How have you been a change agent at
your organization? What have you done
that you’re particularly proud of?
Stripping out unnecessary complexity. I had
the opportunity to redesign our largest DC
plan’s investment lineup a few years ago;
we moved to white labeled and customized
options. Doing so improved and streamlined
the lineup, improved the Plan’s governance
structure and simplified the members’ decision-making process.
What is the asset class or investment
that keeps you up at night, and why?
Both private and public market valuations
are stretched, however taking into account
record levels of inflows, unrealized value
and dry powder, it is difficult to ascertain
whether an illiquidity premium actually
exists in privates.
What methodologies have you adopted
within your institution?
Making more meaningful allocations within
our hedge fund program, resulting in a more
concentrated portfolio. Investors tend to
underestimate the impact of netting risk in
a portfolio where performance fees are paid.
Where do you fall in the passive vs.
Both are appropriate, as long as the exposure matches what you are paying for it!
What are the changes you’d like to see
the institutional investing community
make in 10 years?
More time spent on what really matters
and less on relative performance to some
arbitrary benchmark. Whether the goals
are closing a funding gap, achieving a sufficient retirement outcome, or maintaining
purchasing power…not beating some benchmark by ___bps.
Who is a manager you don’t currently
work with whose brain you’d like to
Howard Marks—he focuses on getting the
small things right…consistency, discipline,
and minimizing errors. Also, his newsletters
are always an entertaining read, particularly
where he throws sports into the mix.
Ideally, where would that meeting take
Anywhere. His choice.
What is the software investment tool
that helps you most?
Not an investment tool, but Headspace helps
me navigate through all the clutter that gets
thrown at us on a daily basis.
What would improve the relationship
between you and managers?
Why did you choose your current path?
I got my first taste of this industry when I
Senior Portfolio Manager—Hedge Funds,
Univest Company B.V. (London, UK) 33
Tom drove the strategy and implementation of
a customized investment line-up for our DC plan.
He was also instrumental in transitioning the program
from a fund of funds structure to a portfolio of direct
allocations, greatly reducing costs.
was probably 12 or 13, helping my parents
make choices on their 401(k) plans. My
parents grew up on small dairy farms in
Poland before moving to the US and working in their blue collar jobs, so given their
language barrier and my knowledge (or lack
thereof) at the time…we probably settled on
a highly sophisticated portfolio by using the
(1/n) approach with the dozens of options
provided. Fast forward to when I moved into
an asset owner role and I realized it gave me
a platform to make a difference by stripping
out the unnecessary complexities and provide our members with the tools needed to
achieve their goals.