Dubai: The tenth edition of Anthony Ritossa’s Global Family Office Investment Summit began on Sunday with participants from over 40 nations and representatives of more than $4 trillion in investor wealth, in what is described as the world’s largest gathering of family wealth.

A panel comprising of veteran investors started off the summit by discussing and looking into macroeconomic trends, geopolitical risks and economic challenges seen for the remainder of the year and beyond. The panel took a look into where elite investors are to deploy capital and how to protect their portfolios from various risks.

Panellists who engaged in the discussion included William Hess, Co-CEO at Beijing-based PRC Macro Advisors; Serge Conesa, founder and CEO of Switzerland-based Immersion4; Peter Rafferty, a portfolio manager at Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and Stergias Voskopoulos, CEO of Bahrain-based Kanoo Capital.

Looking into how the trade relations between the United States and China are impacting the world economy and whether the effects will persist this coming year, Hess, who is part of PRC Macro, an economic advisory firm involved in data and analysis about the economy in China, said he is “constructive” about the truce happening this year, but warned that the issue will “linger” longer than the initial deal.

“There were many reasons and occasions for either side to walk away from a phase-one deal and they haven’t, for that reason and we don’t think either side wants to bear the consequences from the talks falling apart again, so we think we are going to get to the phase-one deal, Hess said, adding that the phase-one deal is “the end of the beginning.”

“However, we think this issue is going to linger longer than the phase-one deal. The phase-one deal, although the headlines are about tariffs, we think this is really about negotiating the rules of engagement with China going forward.”

Conesa, head of Immersion4 — a firm which offers an alternative for storing data locally that uses less energy and water, discussed themes investors should pay attention to going forward.

“There is a new currency, which is data. When we talk about energy consumption, we talk about data, and vice versa, and there is a higher need for data and energy management,” Conesa, divulging also into details of effective ways of reusing electronic waste, and how it is an area worth investing in.

“So it’s more about understanding local experts in the markets and trying to allocate, ” said Peter Rafferty, a portfolio manager at ADIA — a sovereign wealth fund owned by Abu Dhabi which manages the Emirate’s excess oil reserves.

Voskopoulos, head of Kanoo Capital — a large family-owned conglomerate based in UAE which offers height safety equipment and service, stressed on how the need of the hour is to focus on areas like waste management and sustainability.

Where to invest in 2020?

An elite panel at the conference discussed what would be the “one big theme” to look out for the coming year.

Hess sees that for the next year “China will try and break out of the dollar system, watching its own digital currency really going full-steam ahead with its own RMB-based payments system.”

“On a global investment level, if you want to make an impact — invest in technology while based on eco-conservation,” Conesa added. Voskopoulos said that he would go for “sustainable business models and adoption of proper technology,” while Rafferty suggested buying into the existing ”fear levels” in the markets.