2015 Forty Under Forty

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Sarah SamuelsSenior Investment Officer
Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management
(Boston, MA) 33
Sarah Samuels
(Art by Dadu Shin)

“Sarah manages MassPRIM’s $39 billion public equity and fixed-income portfolios, nearly two-thirds of the $60 billion fund.”

Your least favorite part of being an asset owner is...

There are very few portfolio managers running $60 billion, and it changes what you can do. You need to get more creative to find ways to be nimble or invest in niche exposures.

...and your favorite?

The mission: Ensuring we can pay benefits for the retirees of the state of Massachusetts.

Imagine you are an investment consultant: What is the first thing you tell your clients?

I think it’s to do anything you can to avoid short-termism.

Which asset-owning peer—either person or fund—do you most admire?

San Bernardino County. They have a really novel and unique beta-tilting model. About a year and half ago, I started creating an asset allocation model, and tried to find someone who was doing it in a way I envisioned.

The trend in asset management you never want to hear about again is...

Being everything to everybody, in every market environment.

...and the trend that isn’t getting enough attention?

Whatever the opposite of that is. It’s not a trend but when it comes to what I believe in, and what we look for: niche active exposure with skilled investors who aren’t afraid to make bets.

Name your favorite food and drink.

Glidden Point oysters from Damariscotta, Maine, and sauvignon blanc.

What three websites do you visit most often?

Pragcap.com, the Wall Street Journal, and Corporette.com (a fashion blog for working women).

The manager you don’t currently work with whose brain you’d most like to pick for an hour is...

Frank Teixeira—he’s a chartist at Wellington Management. I think he’s a fascinating guy. I’d seen him from afar when I worked there. I never had an opportunity to pick his brain.

...and where would that meeting take place?

My favorite restaurant: Sakurabana, in Boston.

Describe the weirdest interaction you’ve had with an asset manager.

Once, a portfolio manager went to give me his business card. About three dozen $100 bills came falling out of his wallet, which was absurd.

Besides the job you have now, what are your career ambitions?

The career ambition is to run a pool of assets on the asset-owner side of this business.

What asset class or investment troubles you most right now—and why?

Products that expand the mandate across asset classes—the “Go-Anywhere-Answer-to-Anything” strategies that I am not much interested in hearing more about. It’s a big ask.

Name a cultural aspect of asset management that gets under your skin.

Short-termism, ego, and hubris.

In 2025, the state of the institutional investing world will be...?

It’s a good question. If I could predict that, I could retire early!