2016 Forty Under Forty

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Michael BarryCIO,Georgetown University
(Washington, DC) 39
Michael Barry
(Art by Lauren Tamaki)

“I’ve known Mike for many years, giving me a front-row seat to watch him develop and refine his investment skills. Georgetown’s endowment is in great hands.”

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

A noted lack of patience. I tend to see that in some of the younger folks. It could be good or bad.

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

Feeling the pressure to act when we ought to just hold fast in our investments—plus having too many investments to begin with.

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

Hugh Hendry of Eclectica Asset Management. He’s a global macro guy, very eccentric, and just runs counter to everyone else on the planet. He’s probably been wealthy two or three times; his fund goes up and down, up and down—but mostly because he doesn’t have the right client base.

... and where would that meeting take place?

In a London pub.

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

Having a meeting with a representative of a macro manager—while, through a glass wall, I watched the CIO screaming at the top of his lungs. I saw him throw a stapler at someone’s head.

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

Hedge funds—for not taking risk.

Name your favorite food and drink.

I hate to say it… but I’m not much of a foodie. Sushi and sake?

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

A foundation in the mid-Atlantic region run by a Georgetown grad who has a 10-year track record better than Yale’s, and has 70% to 80% in alternative assets. [Ed. Note: A drink on the CIO team if you can guess who this is.]

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

The hedge fund world’s unnecessary insistence on not providing transparency. It’s delusional for a $500 million fund to not talk about their shorts because they’re worried management might not speak to them or “the Street might attack us” if word got out. Give me a break. We deserve to know where our capital is invested.

Donald Trump is ________.

So many words come to mind, but what do I want to show up in print? Donald Trump is... an entertainer.

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

Todd Corbin of the New York Public Library would be my CIO, and my current private and public market deputies would be there as well: Kristi Craig and Chris Gill. And then Kevin Hill—he’s a real estate guy.

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

Missed opportunities and lost money. I’d say passing on John Paulson’s fund in late 2006 was the worst of the first type. Oops.

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

Impact investing. In our world, we have by definition 100% of the assets, and spend 5% on our mission. The other 95% is just getting financial return. If we could figure out how to have a social return on that 95%, we’d have a huge impact—like 20 times what it is now.