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Samuel Isaly: Anticipate the Anticipators

February 9, 2016
Samuel Isaly, Managing Partner of OrbiMed Advisors, joined BIO CEO & Investor Conference attendees for a Fireside Chat, moderated by David Gluckman, Co-Head of the Global Healthcare Group at Lazard.  The discussion called upon Isaly’s wealth of healthcare and pharmaceutical knowledge spanning nearly 50 years, focusing on the value of innovation.

OrbiMed has a simple “secret sauce” to their success, they only employ bright, hardworking, honest and lucky people to manage their funds.  As a firm, they also put a tremendous emphasis on communication, having multiple meetings per week to ensure open lines of communication across the global firm.  Isaly noted that an event or company in Tokyo could have impacts on the U.S. Markets, or visa versa.

TIsaly_CEOPanelhe discussion moved to Isaly speaking about the skills that are dedicated to investing in healthcare, not only do you have analysts with advanced degrees, like M.B.A.’s, but you also have many with Ph.D.’s for an in-depth knowledge of the field and the innovations that are taking place.  Having a diverse team in place provides a full spectrum view of the companies OrbiMed is looking to invest in.

Isaly then took a personal turn, saying that much of the hard skills he uses today he learned while in school at the London School of Economics.  While studying in Europe, he realized that instead of doing well in one continent or country, he needed to focus on one sector – healthcare – worldwide.  He and his team needed to know everything about the industry and areas that impact the industry, on a global scale.  Noting, that even today, emerging markets are “a big deal.” Underscoring his point by saying, “If you look at healthcare as a percentage of developed stock markets, it makes up 13%.  If you look at emerging markets, healthcare makes up 3% of the markets, that percentage will rise.”

Isaly said one of the reasons his team has grown the firm to over $15 billion in assets, and rank as the world's largest healthcare-dedicated investment firm, is by “anticipating the anticipators.”  In fact, it was noted that in his office there is a plaque with that very saying.  Looking long term, what is the earnings report going to say two years from now, is one way that OrbiMed has found success.  A success that was evident by the knowledge shared with the attendees of the BIO CEO & Investor Conference.