How have you been a change agent at
your organization? What have you done
that you’re particularly proud of?
Overseeing the successful implementation of
our Absolute Return and Private Equity allocations, along with recommending the adoption of the ACWI IMI benchmark for our
entire Public Equity portfolio. The benchmark change has allowed us to evaluate the
Public Equity portfolio more efficiently, with
fewer managers and less overlap, compared
to when we implemented the US and non-US
What is the asset class that keeps you
up at night, and why?
Fixed Income and the impact low rates have
on the rest of the portfolio. Balancing the
allocation tradeoffs between return-seeking and downside-protection asset classes
is challenging. I think it’s fair to question
whether asset classes traditionally relied on
for safety can be considered safe anymore.
What methodologies have you adopted
within your institution?
Continually emphasizing and seeking ways
to maximize the few competitive advantages
we have compared to the average investor,
including our scale, funded status, and long
investment horizon. Trying to time the market, evaluating managers on short-term performance, and hiring too many managers
are things we should avoid; they diminish
Where do you fall in the passive vs.
Active management for the majority of the
portfolio, with an emphasis on managers
whose philosophy and process align with
our long investment horizon. I don’t buy into
the ‘active management is dead’ arguments;
there are certainly flaws in passive strategies that shouldn’t be dismissed. We’ve had
success over time hiring active managers in
many areas. It’s the conviction we have with
a manager’s philosophy and process that
ultimately keeps us with a manager during
inevitable periods of underperformance.
What are the changes you’d like to see
the institutional investing community
make in 10 years?
While I enjoy learning about the successes and
challenges of my peers, I don’t spend much
time thinking about changes I’d like to see the
institutional community make, and I don’t
seek validation from them when I make my
recommendations. Hopefully readers don’t
take that the wrong way. It’s a full-time job
for me to attempt to position my employer’s
portfolio and governance process for success.
Who is a manager you don’t currently
work with whose brain you’d like to pick?
Howard Marks, co-chairman of Oaktree.
Ideally, where would that meeting take
What is the software investment tool
that helps you most?
Morningstar, custodian data, and Excel. I
have a wish list of software I’d like to have.
Chief Investment Officer, City of Milwaukee ERS
After the death of his predecessor, he took the reins,
hitting return targets and diligently negotiating lower
What would improve the relationship
between you and managers?
Asset owners and managers should remember that we share a fiduciary duty to the
same members. Keeping lines of communication open and viewing the relationship as
a partnership increases the likelihood of success for our managers and us. This includes
sharing credit with managers during good
years rather than just blaming them when
things aren’t going well.
Why did you choose your current path?
During a summer internship at a full-service
financial planning firm in Memphis, I had
the opportunity to see how important it is
for people to receive sound investment and
retirement planning advice. I also learned
about the CFA Program working there. I get
great personal satisfaction knowing I play a
role in providing retirement security to the
City of Milwaukee’s 27,000+ members.