Research is the cornerstone of Inquire Europe’s existence. It is therefore no small task to be responsible for distinguishing which projects will receive sponsorship from the institute on an annual basis. Theo Nijman, Academic Coordinator at Inquire Europe, provided insight into his role and the broader changes which are shaping the way the financial community is conducting and delivering its proprietary research.
What trends have you observed in research project topics since the pandemic began in 2020?
Research projects are increasingly on how to structure a portfolio and nowadays always without exception the methods are data tested. Twenty years ago, the projects also sometimes included theoretical papers, for instance on derivative pricing; these elements of research have largely been shifted to specialized conferences. As the availability of data has drastically improved, most research is now reliant on European data rather than data coming out of the US.
Of course there are new techniques that are used which were not heard of in the beginning of the century, such as machine learning, text analysis, copula’s and quantile regressions.
How do you make your selection for sponsorship amongst the research proposals that you receive and review? What are the factors that you take into consideration when determining which themes are of most value to the broader investment community?
The program committee (consisting of representatives from the sponsors) selects the papers to be put on the program. Likewise, a research committee selects the papers that are sponsored. My task is only to make a preselection of say 15 papers or proposals out of the 80 that are often submitted. I try to use the criteria that Inquire has chosen: the papers and proposals should be top quality (potentially publishable in the best international journals) on topics relevant for the audience.
Inquire Europe seminars often have specific themes (such as illiquid assts, sustainable investing) and then obviously the vast majority of papers to be presented should align with that overarching interest. All other things being roughly equal I implement a small preference for papers and projects of young European researchers, in line with Inquires preferences. This way Inquire Europe aims to encourage them and to improve their links between young academics and quant finance practitioners.
What are the most dominant characteristics that have evolved in investment research since you have been the Academic Coordinator of Inquire Europe?
Fortunately, the availability of European data has improved greatly – as already referred to above. Another major change is that there are many more researchers affiliated with European universities who are shifting the frontier of knowledge; this is proven by their publications in the best academic journals in the field (such as Journal of Finance, the Review of Financial Studies and the Journal of Financial Economics).
Members are welcome to access the archive of Inquire Europe’s published research here.