Lessons From NYC's First SALT Conference On Finance, Technology, Geopolitics

Why should I go?

That’s the question some were likely asking themselves as SkyBridge Capital, a global investment firm, looked to bring thousands of the world’s foremost investors and thought leaders together for three days of high-level collaboration and networking.

Let’s answer the question with some key lessons from New York City’s first SALT event.

The Context: Founded in 2009, SALT events are the convergence of asset managers and owners, entrepreneurs, investment advisors and policy experts.

Designed to educate attendees on topics most understood by world leaders and renowned fund managers, SALT also offers the opportunity to network with those businesses and individuals making an impact on how the broader world works and lives.

The event isn’t all business though. Attendees are afforded high-class dining and fun via afterparties hosting exceptional talents, musicians and the like.

NY 2021: SkyBridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci, former Trump White House communications director and Goldman Sachs Group Inc GS alumnus, hosted SALT NY 2021 (Sept. 13-15), one of New York City’s first big events at the newly renovated Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

This was New York’s first SALT event; 10 times before, the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas — famous for exotic parties, concerts, and dinners — was the location. 

"Our goal has always been to empower big, important ideas and foster a community to address shared challenges," Scaramucci told Reuters ahead of the event.

"We're also bringing SALT to NYC for the first time to help spur revitalization efforts in the city, and want to demonstrate leadership by returning to some semblance of normalcy while maintaining a safe environment for our attendees."

Despite a concerning coronavirus resurgence, the flagship Wall Street conference saw record attendance, running out of food and seats for its nearly 2,300 vaccinated delegates and speakers.

In large rooms, famed investors, businessmen and politicians of the likes of Steven Cohen, Jon Najarian, Kevin O’Leary, Catherine Wood, Sam Bankman-Fried, John Kelly and Jeb Bush talked about everything from the implications of innovation to immigration, equality and regulatory evolutions.

Midway through, SALT hosted The Chainsmokers at the Marquee New York, among other, more private events.

Lessons From SALT: Despite there being too many lessons to share, we're honing in on a few, starting with one offered by a panel featuring Cohen of Point72, Ilana Weinstein of The IDW Group, Dmitry Balyasny of Balyasny Asset Management and Mike Rockefeller of Woodline Partners.

“If you remember nothing else, talent is everything.”

That’s according to Weinstein, who said human capital is as important as financial capital. The reason being: you can’t generate alpha if your firm does not have the wherewithal to attract and retain the best and brightest.

In a conversation between Andrew Sorkin of CNBC and Wood of ARK Invest, SALT attendees heard a different perspective on the inflation debate.

Wood argued that market forces are making the world highly deflationary: for instance, with new technologies, she said cost drops while demand picks up. Alternatively, there is the potential for creative destruction as well as cyclical deflation. 

“The bull market will not end at least … until the number of millennials peaks,” Wood said. 

In a talk on why diversity can yield better results, Rupal Bhansali of Ariel Investments discussed emerging themes with respect to market structure and factor investing.

“Ignorance is not bliss. It’s loss,” she said. 

In another chat, David Rubenstein of The Carlyle Group and Jeff Blau of Related Companies talked about private equity and real estate.

The takeaway from that conversation is that in addition to private equity being a sort of high-achieving underdog, it’s tough to proclaim the existence of a bubble.

“You never know you’re in a bubble until it’s over,” Rubenstein said in a justification of lofty valuations; COVID-19, among other things, brought on a massive transformation in the way people are living and working.

Additionally, both sides of the equation — the business and investor — are better experienced to deal with downsides, he said. 

"The industry has so much more talent to make these companies work." 

Takeaways From SALT: Apart from the aforementioned perspectives, key themes for the conference include cryptocurrency, inclusionism and talent.

The world is transforming; both people and businesses are inclined to associate with technologies and talented people that are more diverse and efficient.

As Ksenija Pavlovic of Pavlovic Today summarized: “SALT sparked the conversation on crypto. SALT talked Afghanistan. SALT partied with Chainsmokers at Marquee. New York, the engine of America, is up and running.

“The American dream is still alive.”

To learn more about SALT events, click here.

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Posted In: NewsPoliticsEventsGlobalTop StoriesMarketsTechGeneralAndrew SorkinAnthony ScaramucciAriel InvestmentsARK InvestBalyasny Asset ManagementBellagio HotelCatherine WoodCNBCDavid RubensteinDmitry BalyasnyGoldman SachsIlana WeinsteinJeb BushJeff BlauJohn KellyJon NajarianKevin O'LearyKsenija PavlovicMarquee New YorkMike RockefellerNew York CityPoint72Related CompaniesRupal BhansaliSALT ConferenceSALT NY 2021Sam Bankman-FriedSkyBridge CapitalSteven Cohenthe carlyle groupThe ChainsmokersThe IDW GroupWhite HouseWoodline Partners
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