Nataša Marjanović: Knowledge brings profits

I have made it by hard work and a belief that in Serbia as well to learn is worthwhile because here too knowledge has the highest price

Nataša Marjanović is 28 years old and is the director of Delta Generali, the first private pension fund in Serbia. She came to that place as the first financial expert who obtained the certificate of portfolio manager in Serbia. And her CV is completely marked by the word “first”. Nataša had previously passed the most prestigious exam for portfolio managers- CFA- all the three levels. At the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade she graduated before schedule with average grade 9.81.

An answer to the question how she has succeeded to do all that, is summed up by Nataša Marjanović, in the interview for Magazin Biznis, into a few words: by work and a belief that even in Serbia to study is worthwhile because here too knowledge has the highest price.

– Yes, people said to me: “Why do you study so much”, “What do you need it for, this is not the country in which career is not build in that way…” And now that the professional satisfaction has started arriving, the main comment of those same people is: “It has paid off after all”.

– Of course I have lived and am living the life of my generation. Everyone having a 24-hour day at his/her disposal chooses how to fill it in. Without the right people around me nothing would have value, so almost always I find time for meeting friends and going out, although, I must admit, not the partying till dawn which is very popular here. I am not that kind of person. I am more of a sporty type and like to ride a bicycle or rollerblades on Ada.

What is a portfolio manager?

– Portfolio manager is a person in charge of investing a fund’s assets. That is a financial expert who manages the assets invested so as to maximize profits for the given risk, or to minimize the risk for the given profits. In Serbia a portfolio manager is so to speak a new occupation. In order to get a licence, one has to pass quite a demanding exam in front of the Securities Commission, and the condition for the foundation of the pension and investment fund is for the founders to have a minimum of one person with the portfolio manager licence.

How is the Delta Generali portfolio made? How and where do you invest assets?

– Precisely because we are dealing with the pension fund extremely strict rules have been set by the Law. We can invest 30 percent of assets into shares, 15 percent into real estate, 10 percent abroad; up to five percent can be placed on deposit with the bank, and when investing into the state securities there are no limitations. That means, for instance, that you enter share buying when their price is the lowest, that is, at the moment when all analyses show that the share is being devalued.

Is a portfolio manager tested every day?

– Exactly. First in the morning there is the foreign exchange rate report, then with anxiety 13 hours is awaited when the Belgrade Stock Exchange closes, so, if there is a minimum of doubt that perhaps that day there had been a depreciation of the investment unit, tensions do not slacken until at 16 hours you add everything up and the final figure is seen. Although there is no portfolio in the world that is constantly growing, that is, that has no daily fluctuations, it is easy to say that, but difficult to accept.

How did you enter this profession and become a portfolio manager?

– I finished the Faculty of Economics in 2001. and remained working at the faculty. That was the time when the opening of our country began, that is, its return into the international community. And then, almost at the same time, an advertisement of the National Bank appeared. They were looking for young economists and I applied in the most regular way. We took tests, and, as I had done everything well, I was accepted. They asked me in which sector I would like to work and I chose foreign exchange reserves management. It soon turned out that the foreign exchange reserves management is an extremely nice job and an invaluable experience. And then a seminar in Bundes Bank followed, on which there was a colleague from Kuwait preparing the CFA exam. That, of course, interested me and with that preoccupation I returned to Belgrade, consulted with the colleagues at the National Bank, and it was fortunate that at that time experts from Switzerland were working precisely on the establishment of the foreign exchange reserves portfolio management engaged within the IMF mission. And that is how it started. I applied for CFA in 2003.and it took three years -2003, 2004, and 2005 to complete all three levels.

What is your further preoccupation?

– Personal advancement. Now it is the study of the German language, I want to learn it really well. Then there is the doctorate at the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade, because I have an affinity towards science, and I want to continue giving classes and working with students. This year I have made a break in the engagement at the faculty, until the work at Delta Generali begins to move smoothly. My aim is that Delta Generali voluntary pension fund is still a leader on the market and to continue my career and professional success in the spirit of the description that Professor Ljubomir Madžar gave of me: “A person that will have a motivating and inspirational influence on every group in which she finds herself as a member”.

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