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DEIRDRE BOLTON

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FOX Business Network’s Deirdre Bolton talks with Opportunist’s Managing Editor Leslie Stone about her brand-new TV show, the advantages of alternative investment and what she sees as the biggest boon to the U.S. economy.

Deirdre Bolton joined FOX Business Network as an anchor in February. Today at 1 p.m. ET she will begin hosting a live, markets-hour program called “Risk & Reward with Deirdre Bolton.” The brand-new show will feature the latest news and options for alternative investment, and a variety of experts will join Bolton each afternoon as she explores non-traditional ways to make money beyond stocks and bonds.

“The show is really about giving people tools to help them make better choices with their money,” Bolton explains. “It is part discovery and part education and we are bringing in the best minds in the industry so that we have greater access to these big picture thinkers. People work hard for their money and I want to give them more ways to earn it and better ways to keep it.”

Bolton served as an anchor at Bloomberg Television for a decade prior to joining FOX, most recently as host of “Money Moves,” and co-anchored the network’s morning programming. During her tenure there, she interviewed major financial newsmakers, including, Pershing Square Capital CEO Bill Ackman, Lazard Vice Chairman Gary Parr, and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross. “Bloomberg is a fantastic organization and I have nothing but admiration for it,” Bolton adds. “What’s different about FOX is that the channel is expanding and investing. It is a true media powerhouse. As you know, Maria Bartiromo just moved over from CNBC, so it’s a very exciting time to be here. The network has been fantastic and supportive in giving me assistance and allowing me a lot of creativity, and we are going to do a lot of great things with this new show.”

Opportunist: Congratulations on your new show! What can you tell us without giving it away?

Deirdre Bolton: Thank you. It’s very exciting. In some ways the first half of the show is ‘Charlie Rose’ and the second half is a little bit ‘Shark Tank.’ In the first half we are going to have lengthy discussions with leading thinkers in their field. Those might include top names in hedge funds and private equity, real estate and so forth. Many of our guests will be experts who aren’t necessarily household names but who will be able to help people roll up their sleeves and get started. So it should be a good blend of introducing viewers to theory and practice.

One challenge I really want to meet—and my team and I both accept it pretty readily—is that I want every single term and concept to be portrayed in a very clear and basic level and completely understood by our viewers. The idea is for us to be as clear as possible in explaining and even going so far as to educate everyone, from the novice to the seasoned investor, who wants more choices and power over their money and wants to learn about new products. Maybe it’s an older person who made some great investment decisions up to this point and just doesn’t want to lose what they have, or maybe it’s somebody wanting to take a little more risk. We will be able to give that individual more ideas and more choices about what to do with their money. The show airs during market hours, so of course we will feature current events and breaking news as well.

Opportunist: Now that you’ve got our curiosity up, can you reveal anything about the ‘Shark Tank’ aspect to the show?

Deirdre Bolton: Every Friday we will have a segment called ‘Elevator Pitch,’ in which an entrepreneur will give me his or her pitch literally in an elevator. An expert panel of judges, who are in real life investors, will provide feedback to the business person. Obviously, since elevators can often stop on every floor, the elevator pitch itself is taped. The feedback will be live, and the entrepreneur will be present to hear honest feedback: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Opportunist: You are known for your expertise in alternative assets. What are the advantages of those types of investments?

Deirdre Bolton: What’s exciting about covering this right now is alternative assets are really for everyone. There are so many choices out there besides the traditional 60 percent stock and 40 percent bonds default setup. That’s a pretty recent change because previously everything that falls into the category of alternative assets was only available to ultra-high-net-worth individuals or institutions or big universities. A change occurred within the last two years, so alternative investments are now mainstream and the average investor can participate.

MLPs, also known as master limited partnerships, are a good example of an alternative asset. So are hedge funds, private equity, venture capital and energy infrastructure. Hopefully, ‘Risk & Reward’ will give viewers other ideas about income streams and be very useful for those who are looking to get a better return. Bond funds, for example, have yielded almost nothing and the U.S. stock market looks close to being fully valued. Bond holders are going to need other choices. Eight of the 10 years I spent at Bloomberg were on one of the markets-driven morning shows, so I am definitely market honed.

Opportunist: Tell us about your path to broadcast journalism.

Deirdre Bolton: Actually, it was quite a winding one. I studied at the University of Iowa and received two degrees in literature—one in French and another in English—and a master’s degree from New York University. After graduation, I went to work for two French banks on an international equities desk. My exposure to Wall Street was through international equity sales and research. I would have to say the biggest event for me was pivoting from Wall Street to broadcast journalism. That prepared me well to be a good journalist and absorb large amounts of material and extract the salient points and put them into context because the more efficient I was in my trading desk language, the more profitable it was. I went straight from the Société Générale trading desk, where I sold European equities to U.S. portfolio managers, to Bloomberg. That was a great place for me to land.

Opportunist: What do you enjoy most about financial news?

Deirdre Bolton: I am having fun and meeting different kinds of people every day and discussing ideas and strategy. It’s honestly a privilege, and I am never bored. I appreciate that it’s very clear cut and money is an easy way to keep score. As any entrepreneur or business person will tell you, it’s very humbling. You can have an amazing business idea but if it doesn’t work that means you have to change. In many ways I am a quantitative person and that is probably what brought me to Wall Street to begin with. I like the fact that your business is working for this reason or your business isn’t working for that reason.

Opportunist: Who is the most fascinating person you have ever interviewed?

Deirdre Bolton: One of my most fascinating interviews was with tennis great Billie Jean King. She spent a little extra time with me and we ended up talking a lot about leadership and she explained how she was chosen as a leader by her peer group in grade school. We got into this conversation about leading by example and how that has an idea of service baked into it. It’s not about just grabbing whatever you can grab. Obviously, as a professional athlete there was discipline and focus and sacrifice and perseverance involved, and those are all traits that play well in the business community too.

Opportunist: Can you predict the biggest financial news stories yet to come in 2014?

Deirdre Bolton: I believe China by its shear heft alone will continue to be in the news. Investment in China and Chinese investment in other parts of the world will likely be a big theme. Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba, for example, whose transactions are bigger than eBay and Amazon combined, just decided to list on a U.S. stock exchange in New York as opposed to Hong Kong. That will be worth watching.

Opportunist: Will there be some high-profile IPOs?

Deirdre Bolton: Oh yes, 2014 is going to be a very busy IPO year—especially for technology companies. Nine or 10 are slated for the next few weeks, and there are about 25 companies in New York City alone currently worth a billion dollars. One interesting aspect, especially for certain kinds of hedge funds and for the investing public, is the rule of emerging markets and frontier markets. There is lots of disruption in Russia and Ukraine and that is affecting investments, but lots of money is going into frontier markets where Westerners haven’t invested before. This is what I would call the global flow of capital. Africa will be an interesting thread to follow.

Opportunist: How does the U.S. economy look to you?

Deirdre Bolton: I think the most inspiring part of the U.S. economy is the tech economy in the sense that you can come to this country with an amazing idea and have your intellectual property protected. The laws still allow you to flourish and, to my knowledge, there isn’t an entrepreneurial model like ours anywhere else in the world. That’s why we have the best mathematicians and engineers in the world and why people come here and start a business. In France, for example, the next generation of entrepreneurs is moving to London because every time they try to start a business in France it’s encumbered. In the United States people are forced to respect intellectual property and as far as the U.S. economy goes that’s one of the greatest boons. We will experience a rise in the intellectual class and entrepreneurs can flourish here because the system allows it.

Leslie Stone is an award-winning writer/editor with more than two decades of experience covering business, finance, real estate and lifestyle issues for newspapers, magazines and online publications. Originally from Virginia, she currently resides in Florida. Follow her on Twitter at @lescstone.

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