We kick off our Professor Profile with our Dean and Professor in Finance Nuno Fernandes. He holds a degree in Economics from Universidade Católica Portuguesa and a PHD in Management (Finance) from IESE Business School in Spain. Professor Nuno Fernandes has been a professor specializing in international financial markets, portfolio management, and emerging market risks at IMD, Lausanne Switzerland, Columbia Business School, New York, and Católica-Lisbon.
We want to start this interview thanking our Dean and Professor Nuno Fernandes for his spontaneous availability for this interview.
Could you briefly describe yourself?
I am Portuguese National, that has lived almost half of his life abroad. I have lived in Spain, US, and more recently in Switzerland where my work has taken me for professional reasons. Someone once described me as a financial marketeer. I am obviously a Professor of Finance and deeply like the financial aspect of syncs. However, I also have a keen interest in marketing, and anything that has to do with consumers, their behaviour, and customer experience.
I am a strong supporter of the Portuguese National team, and I try to watch their matches wherever they play in the World. Finally, I am also a great supporter of Sporting.
What does Economics mean to you?
What does Economics mean to me? Well, Economics is about choices and behavior of economic agents. For me, Economics is about a mindset and mental frameworks. And an economist typically will have a critical mindset and will be a critical consumer of statistics, data, and arguments.
Could you simply describe/introduce your research?
Well, about my research. My research is focused on international corporate finance issues. Typically, I use large datasets to test different hypotheses related to capital structure, corporate governance, and the openness of international capital markets. I typically study what I consider to be puzzles or cool topics. Most of my papers I got the idea by reading the Financial Times or the Wall Street Journal. If I find there is a puzzle or something that does not really make sense and goes against common wisdom, I go and I research it deeply using large amounts of data. This is the case for instance of a paper I have on financial conglomerates. I got that idea after I saw general electrics spinning of the financial side of the company. Until then the common wisdom was that it was good to have financial conglomerates and I am studying it right now.
What was your most interesting finding?
One of my most interesting findings I would say is related to sovereign wealth funds. Sovereign wealth funds are these large government investors that manage and invest the reserves of rich countries, for instance Norway, Abu Dhabi or Singapore. Sovereign wealth funds became very prominent during the 2008 financial crisis when they came to rescue many important corporations in the Western World. But the media and politicians where typically very much against the investments of sovereign wealth funds in Western companies. Well, I went ahead and did a large study of sovereign wealth investments and their impact on the companies where they invest. Ultimately, this was a widely published study that appeared in the media all over the World because the results was exactly that sovereign wealth funds have a very positive impact on firm performances.