Meeting of the Minds
Jonathan Moffly / November 2018
Greenwich is lionized and demonized, but never can it be accused of being unambitious. Germinating from First Selectman Peter Tesei’s Economic Advisory Council is the dream of leveraging our intellectual capital to strengthen the economy. A new venture, the Greenwich Economic Forum (GEF) seeks to bring together the greatest financial minds to create discussion like a Davos World Economic Forum for the alternative investment space. But key advocates needed to be on board. First Catherine Smith, Commissioner of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development offered the department’s support. Then came the essential backing of Ray Dalio. Soon to follow was Paul Tudor Jones II. The seed sown, roots grew and the momentum built. On November 15 and 16, the Greenwich Economic Forum will make its debut.
How do you assemble a world-class financial summit in sixteen short months? Jim Aiello, Chairman of the town’s Economic Advisory Council, founder of the Greenwich Business Institute and cofounder of the GEF says “collective effort is the secret.” His cofounder Bruce McGuire, fellow Economic Advisory Council board member and president of the Connecticut Hedge Fund Association, played an integral role in championing the dream.
The conference will focus on where the economy and financial industry are headed and the agents of change that will take them there. It will represent diversity in financial sectors, geographic participation and gender balance. To make this “start-up” happen, the pair sought out best in class service partners, Peregrine Communications and the Markets Group to manage the event. The metric for success? Hearing “Excellent job” across the board from participants, they say. For this gathering of type A personalities, there’s a kindred appreciation of the entrepreneurial spirit. As Ray Dalio suggested to Bruce, “expand the aperture” going forward and build on year one.
Its goal is to impact both industry and community. Greenwich is home to people who care about community but also want to make an impact on the world. All of our Gold Coast towns echo these sentiments. We have talent. We have determination.
For Greenwich, the conference—with a campus that spans the Delamar hotel, Bruce Museum and Arch Street Teen Center—will bring immediate economic activity from shopping and dining. But in the bigger picture, it will introduce the beauty, assets and culture of the area to influencers from across the nation and the globe, with the goal of attracting new residents and businesses. What better place to live, work or play? What better place to stand side by side with thought leaders? Growth of financial services on the Gold Coast is imperative for Connecticut. Industry sectors that are nurtured stay; those that are milked leave along with their tax dollars.
At the foundation of what makes the GEF special is an intimate experience. Three hundred people interacting with the best and brightest in their disciplines from near and far. Among the panelists are luminaries Dmitry Balyasny (CEO, managing partner Balyasny Asset Management), Afsaneh Beschloss (founder, CEO RockCreek), Annie Lamont (cofounder, managing partner, Oak HC/FT), Tim Armstrong (strategic advisor to the chairman, Verizon Communications) and Bob Dilenschneider (founder Dilenschneider Group).
According to Bruce: “No one—not one—has questioned the vision.” The resounding response was: “Build a Davos in Greenwich? Sounds like a good idea.” Dream big. Make it happen. The Greenwich way.