A Russian victory seems more likely than a Ukrainian victory, Figes said. "And I'm afraid to say that my views now are even more pessimistic, unfortunately. I think that certainly around the time of the launching of the Ukrainian offensive that was a good deal of wishful thinking about Russia's weakness, wishful thinking in which I myself participated," he said.
He added that oil prices will likely rise, particularly after the Israel-Hamas attacks. "Only this week, (Russian President Vladimir Putin) made a new deal with the Saudis to limit oil production and raise the prices and of course, any escalation of the war will have a multiplier effect on rising oil prices," Figes said.
There is also the decoupling of China from the rest of the world that will have implications on several areas, said George Magnus, economist and research associate at the China Centre at Oxford University in a separate session Oct. 12.
"The range of issues which we get bombarded with in the news, of course, export controls, technology controls, semiconductors, lithography, which this country is obviously world famous for, which the Chinese are trying to copy to the extent that they can have spillover effects on the supply chains," he said.
About 60% of pension funds have zero allocation to China, and the average allocation for those that do stand at 7%, Magnus said.
In a panel titled "The Risks You Used to Ignore, But You Can't Ignore Anymore," speakers discussed how they manage risks, including geopolitical risk.
"We now have a very material period of divergence in countries and where we have an overlay of political polarization which doesn't help. … You've got this bucket of discrete risks, geopolitical risks and energy risk," said Michael Huttman, founder and chair of Millennium Global, which has $18 billion in assets under management.
"We have a lot of elections coming up, particularly in the U.S., and we heard how the results in the U.S. might be for Ukraine. So everything is intertwined."
For Peter Herrmannsberger, CIO of IBM Germany Retirement Funds, which has about €7 billion in assets, liquidity remains a focus.
"You can only address (so much of the geopolitical issues) in a reasonable amount of time with liquid investments," Herrmannsberger said. "The other (reason to stay liquid) is to make sure you're liquid enough to pay the benefits. That's usually not the largest issue, I would think."
"But more importantly … it's the liquid front where you can actually manage risks. And you need to be aware that with all this illiquid stuff, it's a lot harder to match the risks. So this for me would be the three reasons to remain liquid," he added.