About the author:
Ray Sturm is a leading entrepreneur in financial technology, and is currently the CEO of AlphaFlow. Prior to launching AlphaFlow, he founded RealtyShares, one of the P2P industry’s top platforms for real estate investing. His early career in finance included investment banking at Bear Stearns, restructuring at Lazard Frères and private equity at CCMP Capital.
Ray has a BBA-Finance from the University of Notre Dame and a JD/MBA from the University of Chicago.AlphaFlow is committed to the highest level of service to our clients. In order to maintain these standards, and open communication and consistent feedback loops, we’ve hired Nick Giovacchini – AlphaFlow’s Client Services Director. Nick hails from the East Coast, is passionate about basketball, well versed in all things finance, and has joined us here San Francisco to play point for our growing client base. We’re excited that Nick has joined us! Learn more about him in our Q&A and reach out to him anytime! Where are you from? I’m originally from Acton, MA which is about 40 miles outside of Boston. I grew up playing a lot of basketball and tennis, and I had some amazing history and political science teachers who inspired me to study politics. That’s what drove me to the George Washington University in Washington, DC and to study Political Science and Psychology. I also spent a semester abroad in Beirut, Lebanon in the spring of 2011 studying Middle Eastern Politics and Arabic (I can still speak a little). After graduation, I joined the Mobile Commerce team at Barclays. What brought you to AlphaFlow? My first role with Barclays had me working on a mobile payments project (something similar to Apple Pay, or LevelUp), which gave me my first real taste of business and innovation, and exposure to the payments realm. I then moved on to the Risk Analytics and Index Solutions team within Barclays, where I was working with some of the world’s largest asset managers to help them better understand the risks and drivers of return in their portfolios, mainly in the fixed income space. The Risk Analytics and Index Solutions group were sold to Bloomberg in the winter of 2015, and I wanted to move to a Fintech start-up. I joined a company called MarketFactory, which helps banks and hedge funds execute their electronic foreign exchange trading strategies. While I enjoyed my time at MarketFactory and learned a lot, I realized how much I missed being part of the investment world. I decided I wanted to get back to it and found AlphaFlow. What really stood out to me about AlphaFlow is that the company is more than an asset manager and that investment decisions are being made with sound underwriting. What really excited me about AlphaFlow is the way we’re building technology and utilizing data to make faster, smarter investment decisions in a traditionally relationship-driven, local industry. Developing our suite of investment analytics to better inform our investing decisions, our portfolio and risk allocation technology, and the ability to leverage and adapt those systems from the short-term residential bridge loans we’re building them for today to other asset classes in the future is incredibly exciting to me. I’m looking forward to being able to work with all our clients to help them understand how each of these pieces works to build them the most diversified portfolios! What’s your view on Fintech? Given how many different realms finance touches, Fintech still has a lot of room to grow and better certain areas. Some places that I see the application of technology to really disrupt are: -The use of AI in consumer fraud detection/prevention -Blockchain/immutable ledgers around custody of securities and transactions -Compliance tech (It sure isn’t fun or pretty to talk about, but risk and compliance are two areas banks and investment firms spend tons of money on every year and look for ways to improve) -More access to previously opaque markets (i.e. more real estate, art and precious gems) What are some of your favorite interests? On the finance side of things, I love tracking equity and global macro markets, and to a smaller extent, credit markets. I’m a voracious reader of many different genres, especially while traveling (when I moved out to San Francisco, I drove across the country to get here!). Being from the Boston area, I’m a big New England sports fan, and I still love to play basketball, ski, water ski and play tennis when I can. I’m also starting to learn Python! What do you like to read? Since I love and hail from a finance background, I read Matt Levine‘s morning emails from Bloomberg, Ploutos on Seeking Alpha, Howard Marks (of Oaktree Capital)’s memos, and Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor. For regular news, I read both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.com and MarketWatch for finance news. While not exactly reading, I’m also a fan of a couple of podcasts. Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale is incredibly insightful into what it takes to launch a successful startup. I also enjoy Motley Fool’s Money and Market-Foolery podcasts for insights into popular stocks and market commentary. On the Real Estate front, I listen to the Bigger Pockets podcast as they have some great episodes on different forms of real estate investing.