How have you been a change agent at
your organization? What have you done
that you’re particularly proud of?
I do some of my best work in a team atmosphere, so when I joined Maryland as a
one-person team, I realized I had to find
a way to work in a team without formally
having one. I’ve done a good job of working
across teams and with teams—for example,
instead of just having Absolute Return (my
group) do due diligence on a manager, I’ll
bring in people from public equity or real
estate or credit, depending on the investment, to get a more holistic review. At this
point, I feel a little bit like a small part of
What is the asset class or investment
that keeps you up at night, and why?
All of them, but mainly quant. Even though
many say those fears are overblown, leverage
plus selling pressure should scare anyone.
What methodologies have you adopted
within your institution?
I’m trying to get every team actively involved
in the risk process and taking ownership for
the plan as a whole, instead of a siloed or top-down approach.
Where do you fall in the passive vs.
It depends on the investor and their opportunity cost.
What are changes you’d like to see the
institutional investing community make
in 10 years?
On the public side, I’d like to see the public
side driving the technology. Currently, we
sort of accept what we can get from vendors, which is in most industries typically
a recipe for disaster. But I’d like that in two
years, not 10.
Who is a manager you don’t currently
work with whose brain you’d like to
May be surprising given my comment in #2,
but Cliff Asness. He’s witty, speaks in plain
English, and is a Chicago grad—what a
great combo! Plus, maybe he could set my
mind to ease about quant.
Ideally, where would that meeting take
Pretty sure if I had a meeting with Cliff he
would get to pick the place, but I guess my
home in Maryland so I could have the home
What is the software investment tool
Managing Director Quantitative Strategies Group,
Maryland State Retirement and Pension System
Ms. Burton is a unique force in the public pension
fund community. She clearly possesses the investment
acumen required to fully evaluate the complexities
and risks associated with large-scale multi-asset class
portfolio construction. However, more importantly, she
thinks critically, independently, and outside the box.
that helps you most?
Yikes. I spend most of time fixing the tool
issues instead of using them. The tool that
will help me the most is probably something
we eventually develop internally.
What would improve the relationship
between you and managers?
We have a good relationship, I think, but
obviously, aligning incentives would go a
long way. I’d also like to spend more time
Why did you choose your current path?
I haven’t really followed a pre-determined
path, but that’s led to some really interesting
experiences. But whatever got me here, I’m
so glad it did. This is the greatest job in the
world! It’s like being back in grad school without the tuition burden. I learn so much each
day…and I feel like I’m doing some good.