Hedging bets with Emmet Mung

Emmet Mung isn’t our usual pick for Flipside. He’s embedded in a segment of campus that hardly recognises our paper; when I first contacted him about doing this interview he had absolutely no idea who I was, or what I did. I had no idea how to interpret his behaviour at first which left me feeling a bit unsettled; I initially had no idea if I was making him uncomfortable or not but he more than readily told me when this was the case. By the end, I managed to get more than a few laughs out of him. Still, it’s not often an LSE student has an entire meme subculture around them. For those of you as of yet uninitiated I’m talking about “Emmet Mung Memes for Investment Banking Teens”.

Emmet is quick to dispel the lingering association between himself and investment banking. He explored it in his first year but was disappointed to discover that securing an internship was far more mundane than he had imagined. “I don’t like studying businesses insofar I prefer markets.” He also thought the actual day-to-day involved a lot of tedious work – facetime, pitching and the like. 

Additionally, he didn’t like the fact that investment banking didn’t involve any sort of risk-taking. He feels like “everyone does it because they don’t have a clear plan of what they want in the future”. He appreciates that hedging makes him feel like he has “skin in the game”. Despite this, he obviously tried hard enough for people to make a whole meme page about him.

Emmet is now in his third year of Government and Economics and is the president of LSESU Hedge Fund Society. He was invested into the role as president by former president and fellow Carr-Saunders resident Jake Fernandez. Back to his time in Carr-Saunders, Emmet was mostly known for playing the saxophone (this fact has been related to me by several former residents of Carr-Saunders). He actually spent his first year as the treasurer of LSESU Music Society, although he admittedly doesn’t remember it very much. It all feels very far away to him now as he doesn’t play nearly as much as he used to, for his time has become occupied with other things.

Under Emmet’s leadership, the managing body of the society has grown from 10 to 60 people; the society itself has over 200 members. It’s managed to host guests like Crispin Odey, one of the City’s most prominent hedge fund managers and Carles Pol, the Executive Director at Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking. 

He credits their ability to pull such high-profile guests to the pure determination of the committee. Committee members send out hundreds of emails every week to the personal assistants of big names in the City, highlighting the society’s prestige on campus in the hopes that they will get a few responses. The strategy works beautifully and the allure of such big names on campus has attracted attention from the general public as well. Emmet describes businessmen and financial journalists queuing up to enter packed lecture theatres. 

Emmet credits his fascination with markets to his uncle Simon Ogus. He reveals to me that roughly half of his family is Ashkenazi Jewish, but is reluctant to give more details because it’s complicated. Nevertheless, he describes his uncle, a leading macroeconomic analyst, inducting him into the Lion Rock Institute – Hong Kong’s leading free-market think tank.

Markets led him to study Government and Economics. He had originally planned to study history and archaeology at Oxford but decided against taking up his place because he ultimately felt like they were things he could study himself. The rigour of political science and economics appealed more strongly to his analytical mind and there was always a feeling that history was a bit too artsy for his liking. He liked knowing that there was an element of predictability in economics and political science but also knew he didn’t want to be an academic because again, there was no “skin in the game”. He felt there was no punishment for getting things wrong, a thread which also came up in his avoidance of investment banking.

Unlike many of his compatriots, he doesn’t pretend to be apolitical. He readily identifies as economically conservative. He admits, however, that he hasn’t given the social spectrum as much thought. He’s controversially described himself as being in the pro-Beijing camp of the Hong Kong protests, though he admits to violence on both sides. He grew up in Hong Kong and was actually tear-gassed last summer but he thinks the protestors have made demands which are too economically left and disrupt the rule-of-law. In any case, he’s planning to stay in the UK and “hopefully join one of Europe’s largest macro hedge funds”.

photography by Angie Abdalla

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