As a private wealth manager in Toronto, Tosin began to feel queasy about the financial markets in late 2019. He moved to sell all his positions. Then, sometime late in 2019, he recalls hearing about the coronavirus. He didn’t like what he was hearing. On 13 January 2020, he took his kids out of school in the middle of the academic year and decamped as far away as possible from Toronto.
Tosin didn’t choose Nunavut on a whim. Being a CFA charterholder, he built a screen on Bloomberg for remote places outside of Canada with no CFA charterholders. He ruled out several locations, including:
- Niue. It has four schools (useful for his kids) but he was concerned that with 1,612 people he will continue to be the only CFA charterholder
- Bouvet Island (a dependent of Norway near the South Pole) has a population of 0 and he thought that it will be too cold, even for him
- While Pitcairn is discrete (it is the smallest country on planet earth) Tosin worried that with a population of 48, the private wealth market may not be sufficiently well developed
- The Sandwich Islands with 30 people has no need of an econometric energy pricing expert
He and his family settled on Iqaluit, a city that he describes as the “Los Angeles” of Nunavut (population 7,740). There, he sets energy rates for the government in line with pricing regulators, ensuring that there is no risk-free arbitrage between the regional diesel prices. Jobs don’t get much more stable than that during a century global pandemic in an area where diesel is the lifeblood” for power generation and home heating. Although the Territory is making good progress towards the goal to move away from diesel and to embrace renewable energy, so as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
There are no trees in Iqaluit due to the permafrost. Summer lasts two months. It first snowed in September 2020. The high in Calendar 2020 was in the 22 degrees centigrade range in June--that just isn’t meant to happen, a serious symptom of climate change.
As for entertainment, the family has visited the Hudson Bay Company and seen the Northern Lights, but they have not yet done a huskie ride, vacay on the “land” to hunt for caribou, seal, and beluga, or fish for Arctic Char. Tosin explains that it is important not to do it all at once in Nunavut – you want to stretch the sights out a little bit. Concerned from time to time about what they might be missing, Tosin occasionally reaches out to his friends in Toronto and Oakville. They tell him, “Seriously. You have missed absolutely nothing with the Pandemic Lockdowns.”
Still, Tosin’s kids are feeling a little restless after their 17-month stint in Iqaluit, so they have discussed the idea of moving to somewhere a bit bigger. They have their eyes on either Yellowknife or Whitehorse, the capitals respectively of Northwest Territories and Yukon. Northwest Territories with two CFA charterholders may provide more Quant company (compared to Yukon’s zero CFA charterholders). Sometimes it’s lonely being the only CFA charterholder in an entire Territory.
So now that the pandemic is easing across the globe, does Tosin feel he made a good choice? Absolutely, he says, he and his family got the rare opportunity to experience the Arctic. The isolation they have embraced in the past year was definitely beneficial in staving off COVID, plus surreal and educative complete with lots of cultural learning experiences
After trusting his instinct on the coming of the pandemic, what does Tosin thinks is next for the global financial community? He tells me the following list is what’s on his mind right now:
- The advent of cryptocurrencies and digital currencies and their place in the economy; NFTs.
- Whether the meme stocks BANG (Blackberry, Nokia, AMC, & GameStop) GANG pulling off incredible valuation can be taken seriously or are portfolio asset allocation worthy as their FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, & Alphabet [formerly Google] GANG counterparts
- ESG; whether SPACs are truly value-added
Perhaps most importantly, Tosin will be watching to see how the global central banks will rein in inflation while simultaneously stimulating economy and market growth post-COVID.