Genevieve Signoret

Genevieve Signoret
Degree: 
M.S. Economics
Year Graduated: 
1999

President and Head of Asset Allocation at TransEconomics

The American macroeconomist Genevieve Signoret founded the boutique asset management firm, TransEconomics in 2001. Its wealth management division offers wealth planning and alternative asset management for Mexican high net worth families, while its asset management division in partnership with Pierre Guillaume manages two Delaware-established funds of funds, TransEconomics Alternative Asset Growth Fund focused on venture capital, and TransEconomics Alternative Income Fund, a portfolio of private equity funds focused on U.S. commercial real estate. She also serves on the board of managers at the closed venture capital fund IA Fund I, headquartered in Austin, Texas.

Signoret is the author of Quarterly Outlook, where in English and Spanish, she lays out forecast scenarios for the global economy and asset classes, and edits emerging market research at GlobalSource Partners in New York.

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Genevieve was the ninth of nine children. She emigrated to Mexico in 1985. Holding economics degrees from the University of Minnesota (1985) and Iowa State University (’99 MS Economics), Signoret has taught economics in the United States at the University of Arkansas and in Mexico at Monterrey Tec and the Autonomous University of Queretaro. At the Mexican Institute for Financial Executives, Signoret serves on the National Economic Studies Committee.

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Until 2009-10, we were a global macro research firm. Now we sell portfolio strategies based on ETFs, so we do the same global macro research for self-consumption and transformation into strategy. We forecast using a scenario approach in a way you won't see anywhere else: we fully develop narratives for our risk scenarios and are utterly transparent about out assumptions.

We don't take custody of anyone's money but we charge a percentage of assets under management advisory. The global macro stuff is as much politics and geopolitics as economics, so we hire political scientists, not just economists. Fundamental research is expensive, but we try to keep costs to a minimum. Our distinctive feature is unheard of — we're a small boutique with in-house global macro research. It is a big deal since we serve corporate treasurers and high net worth individuals, so it's a retail market and a corporate market. In one case, you're selling a ready-made product, in another, a tailor-made service.

We have a small team of five working partners and one financing partner. It's very fun, but the business and management side is huge, so you have to love to sell, train, plan, market, strategize, negotiate, develop products, produce, write, and speak. I live intensely, and it has given me great joy.

I learned a ton at Iowa State to prepare me for this. I learned how to think and drive myself to learn, and how to handle pressure. I use micro when we analyze commodities markets and do our own market studies. I also learned and relished interacting and collaborating with people from around the world. In environmental econ, one of my two fields at ISU, I learned about figuring out willingness to pay and a lot about strategy. Game theory taught me about informational asymmetries, imperfect markets, barriers to entry, and imperfect competition. If you have a business head, all that micro stuff shapes your strategic thinking.

If I were to give students advice, I'd say do an applied thesis with messy data geared toward solving someone's — a policy maker's, a business person's, or an investor’s — real problem. Learn to program, even if it's Stata code or VBA code. It will help you transfer the thinking process to any empirical work later. And because you do tons of speaking, presenting, and training in the non-academic world, students who are research assistants should give lots of research presentations. Better yet, they should teach at least part of their time in grad school. 

I can honestly say that there is no way I could do this job without that grad school preparation. I would change three things about that preparation: everyone should take an econometrics Ph.D. prelim; everyone should have to DO a real world econometrics project even if your thesis is theoretical; every econometrics course should make you do time series forecasting, and not just univariate. Because out in the business world, all anyone cares about are two things: your forecast, and how to make money with it (business strategy or portfolio strategy). As for how to make money with it, you have to learn that somewhere else.

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Today Genevieve resides with her French-Mexican husband, Christian Signoret, in Queretaro. Two of her three grown children are partners in her firm. They operate as a virtual team from home offices in four countries and two continents.
 

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