CFI.co Meets the Vice President of Global Trust: Andreas Thanos
At a time when Greece was descending into the depths of a financial crisis without equal in the country’s history, one firm was doing just fine, abiding by a simple, yet highly effective, corporate philosophy that puts clients’ interest ahead of other considerations.
“Since the trouble in Greece started some six years ago, we have tripled our staff level and saw a six-fold increase in the volume of assets we manage.” Andreas Thanos, vice-president of Global Trust Independent Financial Advisors explains that while banks were tumbling and people feared losing their money, his firm managed to stay one step ahead of the unfolding crisis and managed to fully protect its clients’ capital through diversification of various financial institutions and through different type of financial products.
“As fear mounted that Greece would revert back to the drachma, we began receiving a surprising number of new clients who entrusted their savings to Global Trust. I’m happy to report that none lost any of their money. Throughout the crisis we actually succeeded in obtaining good returns for our customers via corporate bonds, foreign equities and bond funds.”
Mr Thanos, a certified portfolio manager, since 2001 can look back on a long career that introduced him to nearly all facets of the financial sector. He has been monitoring international financial markets since his student days in London back in 1986. Mr Thanos worked in both Greece and the UK as a financial analyst, consultant and broker, for a number of financial management firms of renown. He has managed Greek, European, US and BRIC equity portfolios, Euro and US dollar bond portfolios, for HNWI (high net worth individuals) and institutional investors. He has also served as head of asset management of both advisory and discretionary services.
Mr Thanos has further honed his skills and is now considered an expert in the management of capital in turbulent times.
“Even though the environment has been very challenging over the past six years, it has not been entirely without opportunity. At Global Trust we aim to blaze new trails and pioneer effective solutions to any unexpected circumstance. Success comes through good judgement, hard work, expertise, being one step ahead of what is coming; and above all providing an extraordinary service to our clients”.
Though Global Trust prospered during the lean years past, the firm also has to battle the numerous misconceptions that persist regarding Greece and its business culture. “In some corners of Europe, the Greeks are deemed quite lazy, while in reality some people in the private sector, who during this crisis were shouldered the shortages made, have been working 50 hours a week, or more, for the past two to three years, in order to compensate for others being laid off, or retired. Some of them are getting less money today than before or as much as they were getting ten years ago”.
Mr Thanos readily admits that change was needed and is now indeed taking place. “The problem with that is that change was imposed in rather haphazard way with foreign stakeholders such as the troika (ed. the triumvirate composed of the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) emitting diametrically opposed instructions that often made no sense at all. They were micro-managing a crisis that stood in need of a solid macro policy. Moreover, it was expected that Greece carry out these instructions immediately. This caused havoc not just in the wider society but also in the way it is being run with those doing the running not quite knowing how they were supposed to be doing their job. Radical change imposed from one day to the next without any preparation or forethought whatsoever proved a recipe for disaster.”
However, things did turn around. “With a 26% decline in its GDP and a turning of a primary deficit of more than 13% into a surplus, over the last 6 years, Greece has started gaining respect in the eyes of the international financial community. Previously any trader holding any type of Greek asset ran the risk of being summarily fired if found out. Today that trader is buying Greek assets with great appetite and is likely to be in line for a promotion, or a bonus. After hedge funds moved in and made untold hundreads of millions in the process, investors reawakened to the possibilities and opportunities available in Greece.”
Mr Thanos enjoys long distance running. “I enjoy long distance running as I help manage Global Trust and the capital entrusted to us. Investments are not unlike long distance running in as much as they require stamina and perseverance. Investing is a marathon and decidedly not a sprint”.
All staff members at Global Trust charged, or involved with managing funds, are certified financial advisors. The firm boasts over a century and a half of accumulated professional investment experience. In its current form, Global Trust has been in business since 1998. However, the firm traces its roots back to 1990 when it started as a financial consultancy company. Global Trust is currently expanding its offices in Athens.