2016 Forty Under Forty

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Todd CorbinCIO, New York Public Library 
(New York, NY) 39
Todd Corbin
(Art by Lauren Tamaki)

“You have got to get Todd onthe list before it’s too late.”

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

Younger investors are actually more risk averse, from what I’ve seen: We’ve seen two 20% to 50% corrections in equities in the same decade. Anyone whose formative years were in the 1980s and ’90s would be forgiven for persistent optimism—those were great times.

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

Anytime an opportunity presents, it’s frustrating how 20-plus dedicated funds pop up.

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

David Tepper (Appaloosa). He seems to have an uncanny feel for the market.

... and where would that meeting take place?

Wherever he wanted.

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

A health care manager I met with while I was at Citigroup seemed calm, cool, and totally normal—until a trader walked in and handed him a note. This guy turned from polite Dr. Jekyll to insane Mr. Hyde, screaming at the top of his lungs. It was frightening. If that fund stayed in business, I doubt the trader still works there.

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

[Pushes a chart of private capital assets under management, 2000 to 2015, across his desk.] I see significant extension risk in private market funds. How is $2.8 trillion in unrealized value going to clear?

Name your favorite food and drink.

Chocolate chip cookies and vodka martinis.

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

I’ve heard rumors of a reasonably large public pension fund that’s basically 100% risk parity. At some point, that strategy is going to hit a bump in the road—or worse.

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

Among allocators, openly criticizing a manager’s strategy, team, or business in what’s supposed to be an introductory meeting. Why be egotistical about it? Just don’t invest.

Donald Trump is ________.

Hopefully not the next president.

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

CIO: David Swensen (Yale). Deputies: Dane Fraser, Kevin Hill, and Jeff Kelly—three guys I’ve worked with before who are very smart.

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

Early on in my tenure here, doing too much too quickly. Putting your stamp on a portfolio as the new CIO, having 12 recommendations to present at a board meeting, keeping the team busy—none of those are good reasons to invest.

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

Simplification. We tend to have too many managers, allocate to needlessly complex strategies, and grossly overpay for alpha that’s fleeting, by definition.