2016 Forty Under Forty

Back to Forty Under Forty
Erin AbouzaidCIO,Stony Brook Foundation
(New York, NY) 36
Erin Abouzaid
(Art by Lauren Tamaki)

“Erin is a peer I think very highly of, and someone you should get to know. She’s fantastic.”

Name the most noticeable generational divide in investment style between sub-40-year-old investors and baby boomers.

I’m all about data, so I’d be curious to see how living and working through the financial crisis affected both generations. For me, I’d just started at State Street in the risk management group in the summer of ’07. Asset owners would be calling up, asking for scenario analyses, whole-portfolio exposures, wanting to know, “How bad can it get?” That experience made me even more risk focused.

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

Personally, it’s tough being a one-person investment team.

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

Jim Simons, who founded Renaissance Technologies. But he also happens to be on my investment committee…

... and where would that meeting take place?

After one of our meetings, probably.

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

I must be too nice, because a lot of managers keep calling and calling and calling me. Even after I’ve said four times in emails that I’m not looking at that strategy, and stopped answering the phone, they’re still trying.

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

With illiquid assets—private equity, venture capital—I’m worried about what everyone’s worried about: Valuations.

Name your favorite food and drink.

Ice cream and coffee.

What’s the wildest institutional portfolio you’ve seen?

When I see the NACUBO-Commonfund reports, I’m always surprised (partly in a good way) at the small institutions with basically 60/40 portfolios. They’re being realistic about what they can do.

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

How do you evaluate allocators’ performance? Size, balance sheet, goals—they’re not apples to apples.

Donald Trump is ________.

Hopefully going to return to real estate sometime soon.

Name your four-member investment dream team for your own family office.

Can I just put it in Vanguard?

What’s the biggest investment or career misstep you’ve made?

I’m sure I’ve made mistakes that haven’t been realized yet. But when I first started here, I thought the committee expected me to come with tons of recommendations. The best thing to happen was the chair Ashvin Chhabra telling me, “You’ll never feel comfortable recommending specific strategies or funds until you’ve met with 100 managers, even if you never invest with any of them. So go do that.” It gave me patience to build a foundation.

What should be an investment trend, but isn’t (yet)?

I think there are too many investment trends. We don’t need another one.