ARNAUD SARFATI Societe Generale managing director, financial engineering head of Equity Linked Products If anyone is looking for a volunteer to test a time-travel machine, I would be one of the first to sign up. I dislike the flying part of travel, but I enjoy visiting different countries. I visit Hong Kong three or four times a year. I also travel to Japan and frequently around Europe. Packing is always a chore. When I travel I try to set myself a reasonable pace. Long ago I realised flights take up a chunk of time, and you cannot conduct new business on one. But you can catch up on things that need doing. On outward trips to Asia, I prepare for meetings. I dig into my briefcase and pull out reading material on the latest financial products and industry research. I sleep on the return trip back to Europe. I carry the usual electronic gadgets, such as a mobile phone and a laptop. On my business trips I have to talk to investors, investment product distributors and colleagues. I have to cover a lot of different topics. Advances in connectivity are changing everything, but there is still a long way to go before in-person meetings become redundant. The physical things I carry are as important as the information I carry in my head about new products and initiatives. For example, increased interest in structured investment products in Asia means I have to give product distributors the latest information about our most recent offerings and work with colleagues to develop strategies for clients. Indifferent performance by traditional asset classes has resulted in many investors turning to alternative investment strategies. The idea is to balance the portfolio and increase returns in a variety of market conditions. The concept of using structured products is fairly new in Asia, but people catch on fast. I make sure I am well prepared to answer even the most difficult questions. I carry reference materials and make notes. Hong Kong, unlike some places I travel to, is like the centre of the universe. There is so much vibrancy here. I always get the feeling this is a place where business gets done quickly and efficiently. It is possible to burn the candle at both ends in this business, as you try to maintain a successful business. But the whole exercise would be rather pointless if you forgot all those around you in the process. It is important to stay in touch with friends, family and loved ones, and think of them as a support group. They will be there when you need them. A bit like my trusty briefcase.