Learning the ropes at an old-style stockbroker

Career path: Niels Erik Petersen, CEO at the newly opened investment management company, Petersen & Partners, got his first taste of the investment business back in 1983, when he looked up stock brokers in the phone book. He stopped when he got to "R".
Niels Erik Petersen | Photo: PPIM PR FOTO
Niels Erik Petersen | Photo: PPIM PR FOTO

What career path did you envision for yourself when you were younger?

I always liked playing sports, but even though I tried several different sports, it was pretty clear to me that I didn’t have enough talent to make it a living. So I had to find something else.

When did you decide on the career path that you’re on today?

Not until my studies at Copenhagen Business School. I wanted to be an equity analyst, so I sent out a lot of unsolicited job applications to banks and stockbrokers, and I got almost as many rejections in return. Most of them couldn’t see any use for an academic. But when I reached “R” on my way through the alphabet and I applied to Gudme Raaschou, which at the time was a leading stockbroker, I got a job interview and subsequently a student job.

Former Unipension CIO sets up new asset management firm

Which part of your education have you found most useful in your career?

From my formal education, it’s investment theory, no doubt. Not because the theory books have all the answers, but because investing is such a complicated field that you need a frame of reference to gain a perspective on the different options. I was also always interested in psychology, so when behavioral finance emerged it helped me put my practical experiences into words and into a theoretical framework.

Which part of your CV represents the biggest shift in your career?

I’ve worked in the financial sector since 1983, either in analytics, corporate finance, or portfolio management. So from an outside perspective there has not been much change. Often, the most recent events seem to weigh most. So my biggest shift was probably leaving the safe pension fund sector after 15 years to start a new investment manager.

Which leader in the field has inspired you most?

 Events from early on in your career are often decisive in the choices you make later on. To me, it was inspiring to work at Gudme Raaschou, experiencing the culture of integrity and dynamism that permeated the entire organization. I’ve tried to bring that with me throughout my career.

Niels Erik Petersen has opened his own Investment Management Company, Petersen & Partners in October this year. Prior to that he held a position as CIO at MP Pension for an extended period of time.

English Edit: Marie Honoré

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