DrPeterVenkman presents: An interesting interview with Frieds. Q's came from myself and other WSO writers. This interview will be a little different because being the social guy that he is, Frieds wished to videochat through Skype. See the previous interviews:
Bio: Frieds is one of the top WSO users and contributing authors: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/karma/top
He has worked in Asset Management. Fried's thoughts about the MBA, brewing, and more below:
Frieds On The Future:
Quantitative easing has propped up markets, and there is trillions in commercial debt tied to , which is a problem in its own right. The Euro Crisis going on is “not an environment conducive to turning things around” economically. Central Bank Planning has also put a serious hamper on any real growth for the future. Frieds does not think that think that the continual Bond-Purchasing program that the Fed Announced will not do anything to spur on real growth over the next few years. He also doesn't see us getting out of it for 10+ years, as a result of the new Mandate. Frieds believes an increase in a certain degree of regulation, especially in the derivatives market leads to a “higher degree" of transparency in such opaque markets.
Frieds on Politics
Zero interest is not sustainable because it doesn’t promote saving. The country needs savers not spenders. He sees money flowing into equities rather than bonds and yield bearing investments because rates are being kept artificially low and equities are the only way to "get any return on an investment". Frieds believes Glass-Steagall needs to be re-enacted. There is too high of a risk for potential fraud without Glass-Stegall, that reenacting it is the only way to protect consumers money. The biggest upside to reinstating Glass-Stegall, he said, is that it would separate the Retail/Commercial side of banking from the Investment Banking, Trading and Asset Management side of things. Most importantly, he stressed that IB’s wouldn’t be able to draw funds from depositors if something goes wrong.
Like many, Frieds believes in overhauling DC. He thinks that a moderate, straight forward political approach needs to be used in order to prevent lobbyists, in general, from taking control. He thinks that job cuts, budget cuts and legislative overhaul needs to happen and it needs to be done from a pragmatic and moderate approach. He also stressed that states are starting to to grips with “taxing out wealthiest people", discussing how it's happening in New Jersey and what the implications really are if the states tax out the rich.
He also believes in stricter criminal penalties for those who commit financial penalties – “If you steal from clients, you should get sued and treble damages in order to make examples of. Force banks to be ethical."
You recently decided to attend. Why? Why not get an MBA instead given your background?
"Well, let's start with the second half of that question and answer that first. I wouldn't, for the love of me, get an MBA unless my employer was paying for it because, well, let's face it, an MBA is a joke. Unless you go to an M7, where you are really just paying for a network, the value you get is diminished the lower down the ranking you are. You also don't need to be smart to get into Business School. All you need for B-School is a good, a story and soft skills. Any idiot can study hardcore for the , have soft skills and a good story and get into a quality program and the truth is that an MBA doesn't mean you actually have a skill you can use. It means you have an education that's a mile wide and foot deep with nothing really applicable to show for it. I'm sorry, but it's a joke. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that MBA Candidates are not smart - far from it, actually - I'm just saying that I find the MBA itself to be a joke. So that left me with the question of what do I do? I wasn't interested in a PhD or a Masters degree and I didn't want to get an MSF, not for not caring about the degree but for not knowing much about it - I never viewed it as an option at the time, and Law was the most appealing because, truth be told, it's better to understand the law where it intersects with business and how the law actually works than it does to understand nothing about it. So now that I've explained why I didn't want an MBA, I guess the question is why Law School. Knowing my thoughts about the other degrees, I thought why not. I thought it would allow me a degree of self-sufficiency that I could always fall back on since a JD is a professional degree, an opportunity to do certain things in finance (from the legal implications in PE, M&A and Restructuring on the banking side to Distressed Debt Investing and Structuring across the board) that I found interesting. That, and it was really just a time and a place type question. I was at the right time in my life, in the right place and had the time, so I said fuck it, lets do this and busted my ass off to get in."
Why did you decide to leave?
"Because I didn't find what I was looking for in. I wasn't happy and in talking to my professors, I realized that I knew I would never get what I wanted out of Law School. Part of it had to do with where I was enrolled and part of it was the realization of how fucked the legal world is. There are 200 Law Schools with either a full or provisional ABA accreditation - that's Twice the number of MBA programs there are offered in the US. If Wall Street could pull off a Con like Law School does, god knows the ire that Main Street would direct at the bankers. Even if you come out of Law School, you become pigeon holed as a for a good 4-5 years and if you don't start practicing law you get looked at as overqualified or have a gap on your resume with . It's not just that, law has a real two-tiered track system. To become a Harvey Spector, and work for a big name firm to make the $160K/Year salary, unless you know someone and have an in that way, you need to be the Top 10%-15% of your class in a T-14 school. When you realize this and then look at the the fact that you're not in the rare group, you really are left with a shit ton of debt and mediocre career propositions - seeing that first hand and discussing that with Career Services made me realize that I'd be better off without this because there was much less upside for me to have. When you finally realize that the only way the only reason to go to is if you really want to be a practicing of some sort, it makes the decision to leave a lot easier as well. I also had a few problems with the system. The teaching methodology automatically comes to mind with this one alongside the fact that Law School prepares you to take the bar, and that's about it. So I said fuck it, walked away with a bit of debt and said this wasn't worth my time, so I'm going to pass. You have to do what's right for you and this wasn't right for me."
What are your short term plans? Do you wish to return toor another area of finance?
"My short term plans - Well, they are still in the works. I've got a few things lined up that I'm doing. It's nice to have a little time to think about where I'm going. You know what might be fun to do - become a brand ambassador for a company like Diageo, Chivas or a Pernod Ricard. I mean, it could be awesome repping a brand and being paid to drink for free, come up with drinks and have a good time. At the same time, I could totally see using that as an in for doing Equity Research focusing in on the Beverage sector. Honestly, I don't know whether I'll return to banking, but I might try and do something different in finance. I might try to get back into Asset Management. I honestly don't know. I still have been following the markets, still have my views and a few trade ideas that I like. I would still love to get back into Asset Management, but at the same time, I'd love to trade or find a niche that works for me. At the end of the day, I'm not sure what I want to do, but finance is not out of the realm of possibility."
You recently started a brewery. What inspired that? Do you think that could ever become a full time job?
"I wouldn't say that I started the brewery. I would say that I was brought on to help develop and grow the business. I knew the two guys from college, Chris and Ricky, who called me in to help and they had a friend who they were working with. As to what inspired the brewery idea, that goes back to college. When I was a sophomore, I would go through a case of beer a week. I'd make it a point to try new beer every week. It wasn't just beer, I'd do that with liquor too. I'd basically learn to tend bar and started with making mixed drinks before learning how to make real drinks. I was also Home brewing twice maybe three times a month with one of my fraternity brothers. We were way ahead of our time as it wouldn't really catch on in my fraternity house until I was a senior and we had a few of the younger guys still interested. It saved a lot of money on beer, but it still didn't stop me from going out and buying beer regularly. Brewing, especially all-grain brewing, is a long drawn out process, so we would be brewing for 4-5 hours on a Sunday, and that's just to get the unfermented wort. The brewing cycle took approximately a 6 weeks to complete before we were ready to try the finished project, so we would be drinking beer and trying whatever we could and just figuring out what styles me and my fraternity brother wanted to brew."
"SO, I was brewing in college and every so often, we'd have a few pledges that would be interested in hanging out and watching the process (especially because when we brewed, I made sure that the kitchen was spotless before brewing and we'd start at 10AM so that meant pledges were cleaning the kitchen at 9:30 so I had a good clean space to work in). My Senior Year, I really didn't brew. I had a lot of things that were going on which kept me busy in the fall. I think I brewed two, maybe three times that entire year. Instead of brewing, I'd be drinking craft beer instead. It's not that I didn't have any patience to brew, but I was busy with other things. So whenever I was asked by the Pledges for an interview, I'd end up splitting a six pack of craft beer with them. Two of the pledges from my Senior spring, Chris and Ricky took an interest in the fact that I brewed and ended up starting to brew themselves about a year and a half after I graduated. While I was around though, we would hang out, watch Hockey and drink and discuss craft beer and the discussion of brewing for ourselves came up again but we really didn't pursue it because they were pledging and I was graduating at the end of the semester. Fast forward two/three years later and Ricky, Chris and a few other of my fraternity brothers are brewing every weekend because of the fact that drinking craft beer and brewing started to take hold in the house again. On the other hand, I wasn't brewing because I didn't have the space to brew and store anything. I'm not saying you need a massive space, but to brew, you still need space where you can do everything and I didn't have that where I was living. After Chris and Ricky graduated, I'd end up seeing them both about 3-4 times a year at football games, alumni events and the occasional BBQ and they'd bring what they'd brew, so I got to try what they were brewing and it was a hell of a good product. About a year ago, I get a call from Ricky and he says "Hey, Chris, my friend and I are thinking of starting this Brewery. You want in?" and I jumped on it. This was one of those the opportunity presented itself, so I had to take it moments and I came on as the business guy. So after some serious planning, we finally got our LLC formed, and the rest is now being written as we speak. Now my job actually starts and we can get the ball rolling on my end."
"AS to whether this would become a full time job, eventually maybe. I don't know. I hope it does because it would be a fun job to have. I'm a firm believer in creating something and being able to show pride in your work, so I hope this takes off so I can share something I'm proud of with consumers everywhere. At the same time, this isn't an easy business to get into. This is a very saturated field; you're competing against a lot of companies and, most importantly, growth is not easy in this field. Our shop is based out of Philly/Southeast Philly area, where you already have a number of companies, many with a major regional presence, like Sly Fox (~3,600 Barrels Produced a year), Fegley Brewworks, Lancaster, Victory (~58.000 Barrels Produced a year), Weyerbacher, Yards (~22,000 Barrels Produced a year), Yuengling (~2.5MM Barrels Produced a year), Troegs, Flying Fish (~12,000 Barrels Produced a year) and River Horse to compete with on top of a number of local breweries that haven't broken out of the Main Line yet. For us to compete, we need a product that everyone can drink such as a quality IPA and a beer that differentiates our product from everyone else. We need the Merlot, the IPA, and then we need our own fantastic beer that people will demand to be on tap wherever they go. For brewing the hardest part is making sure you have enough support with orders to get off the ground and get your beer out there. If you can get your beer on tap at 5-6 venues and it develops a following there, then it will be requested at other bars. Word of mouth is the biggest way to get people asking for our product on top of us being out there and promoting it. Right now we're focused on Philly (and in PA in general) until we get enough of a following that we can expand slowly into New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio and Delaware to start because those are our nearest markets to expand into when we are ready. So I guess the answer is, I want to but it depends on how this grows and expands so I can move from doing this part time to a full time job. Worst case for me is that I stay part time. I don't complain with that. Full time would be much cooler, but it's still fine by me to do it part time too."
Two best Frieds quotes about his future
"Fuck if I know"
He also described an excellent scene from Ratatouille (a fantastic Disney/Pixar film and if you haven't seen it, you really should. It's a fantastic film, in which Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Brian Dennehy, Brad Garret, Janeane Garofalo and Peter O'Toole all lend their voices to) where at the end of the movie the antagonist asks for an order of “perspective” and finds what hes looking for when he is served his meal. Frieds stressed this movie a lot when we talked about his future because that's what life is, he said, "It's a great deal of perspective and how we find what we are looking for through it".