“It’s a steep learning curve”

What makes Prime Capital attractive to talent from other cultures? What demands are made on new staff members, what prospects do they have? Find out more in our interview with Saâdeddine Yahia, Investment Analyst at the company’s Frankfurt headquarters.

Mr Yahia, what do you look forward to each morning on your way to work?

The fact that I will again learn something new. Not just in relation to my work, but also about people, languages, culture. Literally every door is open to me here. I can go into the office of any colleague and discuss important matters with them. That also applies to the senior managers in the firm. The corporate culture is very different from what I have experienced in France or China. People in senior positions here behave in a down to earth manner, in a collaborative way, without losing any of their natural authority. Normally one would expect to find that in a British or American company, not a German one.

What gave you the idea of working in Germany?

Good question! Well, I was born in Morocco and grew up there, and I studied in France. After graduating in Finance from the École de Management de Lyon, I gained my first work experience with PwC and at the China headquarters of a large French insurance company. Someone I knew drew my attention to Prime Capital. Even while I was still a student, I was very interested in Alternative Investments and Hedge Funds. So I applied for a job in Frankfurt in 2012, was accepted and started here, initially as a trainee. Right from the start, I was astonished and delighted to find that unlike a lot of French companies, for example, a trainee is not just treated as a trainee. You get the ball passed to you right away and are treated as a full member of the team. I just thought wow! – and grabbed the opportunity…

What support did you get, or do you still get?

My first contact at Prime Capital in Frankfurt was Vincent Weber, Head of Research. He noticed that I was very keen to learn and develop my skills. As a result, he became my mentor. My learning curve was steep here, right from the start. Even today, as an analyst and full-timer, I can still turn to him in many matters – and he’s happy and willing to give me extremely valuable answers and tips. Overall, the firm has an innovative, multicultural can-do spirit, which in many respects is rather like the US/UK culture. Despite the easy-going attitude, there are also rules, but they are more descriptive than prescriptive. We enjoy “guided autonomy”. I have freedom to use my own judgment in many areas. If I need a software package, a training session or something for my work, it’s not a problem and easy to arrange. What I feel is rather “German” is the focused style of working here. There’s no constant noise or bustle in the corridors and offices, despite the open culture. The atmosphere sometimes reminds me of a university library.

What are your duties as an analyst?

My duties in our team of analysts cover a wide range of very diverse areas of responsibility. For example, I’m heavily involved in the top-down and bottom-up process of manager selection for our platforms and solutions. I carry out investment research as well as quantitative and qualitative analysis. To do that I regularly travel to London and the US, or I receive asset managers in Frankfurt. Other tasks include preparing market reports, ongoing monitoring of existing investments, writing marketing materials and organizing roadshows. With such a host of different activities, it’s no wonder that every day is different. I’m involved in a lot of ongoing projects and need to work closely with my colleagues.

You’ve never lived and worked in Germany before. What do you notice most? What, if anything, do you still find it difficult to get used to?

As I said, the working environment here is very multicultural. I have colleagues from every corner of the globe and most of the time we speak English. But of course I’m attending German classes and take every opportunity to improve my language skills in the office. I listen and read up on things, so it gets a bit better each day. A really positive surprise was that at Prime Capital, someone actively reminds me that I can take more training courses. I’ve never seen that before. Anywhere else, if I was looking for a professional development course, I had to push for it myself. In fact, the firm has a strong focus on knowledge and training, which suits me very well. I’m pleased when I see myself making progress every day.

What part does technology play in your work and personal development?

A hugely important one. I’m very interested in technology and innovations and read a great deal about it, both in books and online. I have everything I need for communicating with my colleagues and clients, and for interacting with the markets. I’m always up to date. As I said, if I need something else I can arrange it quickly and easily, but of course I have to observe the required security and compliance standards.

How will the alternative investments segment develop as time goes on?

Change processes are fast-paced and accelerating, the cycles are getting faster and, off the top of my head, it’s not easy to forecast too far into the future. Having said that, we are seeing a general trend towards Alternative Investments. Alternative investments and Hedge Funds will gain in importance, become increasingly significant as a source of diversification and indispensable for generating returns in a low interest rate environment. Even if the interest rate environment were to change, solid returns can still be generated in this area. Alternative investment opportunities are increasingly finding favor among decision makers on the investor side. That is particularly true when the risks are managed properly, safely and transparently, as is the case with our firm. Technological innovations can provide valuable assistance in this regard.

What would you like to achieve personally?

I’d like to grow with the firm. As a sports enthusiast, I love the feeling of getting better and better, and growing with the tasks and challenges. A company like Prime Capital which delivers continuous growth makes that possible. I’m nearer to the action and involved in everything. I’d also like to develop on a personal level. For me, that means learning new languages, like German, and getting to know and understanding other points of view. Here again, a multicultural firm such as Prime Capital is an excellent environment with its different European locations. Each day I look forward to tomorrow. Especially if I faced some real challenges the day before. What could be better than that?