- Bilal Hafeez says he’s tapped into a lifestyle shift happening in the financial industry.
- The London-based Nomura currency analyst sends wellness newsletters – tips and tricks for shaping up, eating better, and maximizing brain and body potential.
- “I like to write on something other than the minutiae of markets.”
There’s a lifestyle shift happening on trading floors.
And Bilal Hafeez says he’s tapped into it. Almost daily, the London-based Nomura currency analyst sends wellness newsletters – tips and tricks for shaping up, eating better, and maximizing brain and body potential. He somehow also manages to crunch data and crank out research reports at his day job.
Hafeez’s mailing list has swelled to more than 2,000 readers, not only in his office in London, but at banks and hedge funds in cities including New York, Geneva, Singapore, and Cupertino, California (he has at least one fan at Apple).
The newsletters are frequent and dense, containing an astounding amount of information that rivals the output of full-time wellness gurus.
“I like to write on something other than the minutiae of markets,” Hafeez, 41, said in an interview. “It’s really touched a nerve. There are so many people on our trading floor who do triathlons, people are religious about diets, there’s a really high awareness around health.”
(Hafeez doesn’t drink, so he admits his views might be slightly skewed by not witnessing debauched scenes in City pubs after markets close on Thursdays and Fridays.)
Even still, he says many of the traders he knows are moving toward vegan and Ketogenic diets.
“You see this with hedge fund people and people in banking, they want to optimise physicality,” he said. “The way they obsess about financial markets is the way they obsess about their health, typical ‘Type A’ personalities.”
Alex Hess is one of them.
“The value is that he reads voraciously and compiles it in one list,” says Hess, a macro strategist at New York hedge fund Third Point who says he practices high-intensity interval training. “I’m super into health.”
In one newsletter, Hafeez lists the vitamins and supplements he takes. Below are some of the more obscure ones:
- Lion’s Mane – a mushroom supplement known for amping up brain power.
- Cordyceps – a fungus that lives on certain caterpillars in the mountains of China but supplemental forms are grown in labs. Good for kidneys and vitality.
- Milk Thistle – thought to be good for the liver and for reducing the risk of diabetes and cancers.
Fund managers who have read his content cold call him: “They say, ‘I’ve seen this, but also, what are you thinking on the dollar?'”
He limits phone and email checking to only three times a day, and is ruthless about “inefficient” meetings. He asks for notes of the meeting in advance, ask what the agenda will be, ask for minutes of the last meeting, who will be chairing, and who is accountable for outcomes.
“Very quickly you won’t get invited any more!”
Here’s his morning routine:
- “No phone. Upon waking up, I make sure not to check my phone as it will contaminate my mind. It’s important I hold my ideas and thoughts that have developed during my sleep. In fact, I keep my phone in a separate room.”
- “Simplest physical work-out ever. One push up, one sit up, one sun salutation, one squat. The secret of physical fitness is regularity. Such a low bar for reps ensures I will never miss this work-out! In fact, I haven’t for many years now. I add extra work-outs later in the day or week.”
- “Shower power. When showering I note down all my ideas on my water-proof note-book. Then, I end the shower on freezing cold and stay in it as long as possible. Exposing myself to temperature extremes makes my body more resilient.”
- “No stress dressing. I wear clothes that I have picked the night before. This ensures I minimise using decision-making energy on trivial things.”
In one recent letter, he ranked his favourite podcasts. For macroeconomics, he picks, among others, Macro Musings with David Beckworth and Sinica Podcast; for investing and trading, he likes Capital Allocators and Conversations with Tyler.
He also has high praise for The Tim Ferris Show, with “productivity and health hacker” Tim Ferris.
“I get more feedback on these types of notes than anything else I produce,” he says. And his bosses’ reaction? “They appreciate all of this work, there’s a big appreciation of health in the workplace.”
Hafeez also runs his own podcast. In one, he mused on pop culture: Captain Marvel, Avengers Endgame and the Meaning Of God.
It’s a big swing from his Nomura content. Just take a look at a chart from a recent piece Hafeez sent about rate spreads:
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