2016 Forty Under Forty

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Helen ChristieInvestment Executive,BP Pension Scheme
(London, UK) 38
Helen Christie
(Art by Lauren Tamaki)

“Helen is renowned for her hard work, in-depth knowledge, never-ending patience, and good humor—and, the last year, has led implementation of the fund’s first liability-hedging program.”

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

Younger investors often take a more analytical approach to decision­-making and make greater use of available data and technology, while older colleagues are able to rely more on instinct and relationships with trusted contacts.

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

Having to keep on top of so many disparate subjects and activities. But having said that, the fact that every day is different is what I love most about the job.

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

Jeremy Grantham, from GMO. He has an amazing ability to cut through the constant market chatter to provide clarity, context, and perspective.

... and where would that meeting take place?

The restaurant at the top of the Gherkin building, which overlooks the City of London, would seem a suitable place to have lunch with someone so well known for his clear-sighted market perspectives.

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

The head of sales for a boutique manager admitted to me during the course of a meeting that all of his firm’s products were rubbish. It was a quick meeting.

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

I, and many of my colleagues, will rely on the pension fund when we retire. So I worry about all asset classes all the time!

Name your favorite food and drink.

The cardamom buns baked by a Swedish bakery in Hoxton, East London defy description. Best enjoyed with a cup of strong coffee from the cafe next door.

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

Luckily, I have no anecdote to share here!

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

There are too few women in the industry.

Donald Trump is ________.

The owner of a Labrador called Spinee.

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

I’d have Warren Buffett as investment chief (of course), Howard Marks (Oaktree Capital), Angelien Kemna (APG), and Antti Ilmanen (AQR).

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

No regrets so far. It would have been nice to have predicted the timing of the 2008 financial crisis, obviously.

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

Focusing on the long term rather than obsessing about the next couple of months. But I’m not holding my breath.