2016 Forty Under Forty

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George CrosbyHead of Portfolio Investments,New Zealand Super Fund
(Auckland, New Zealand) 36
George Crosby
(Art by Lauren Tamaki)

“George has been instrumental in the establishment of the portfolio investments team—a major source of active returns.”

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

Technological capability. For one, baby boomers still have landlines. At NZ Super, a lot of people are returning from offshore and have young families. I’ve never worked anywhere that has such a young average age.

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

At times, having to withstand scrutiny of short-term performance results. Even though we say we look past these, and have huge conversations about long-term investing, we do spend time talking about the short term because of this pressure.

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

George Soros. He’s challenged whole markets—breaking the Bank of England, for example—positions that would require such strong conviction not to falter from. You may think you’re right, but if things keep going against you… I’d be really interested to know how he manages to hold his courage.

... and where would that meeting take place?

On a golf course in New Zealand.

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

At a meeting, somebody handing back the other person’s business card, saying, “What am I going to do with that?” Ouch.

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

I wouldn’t say troubles, but I’m trying to work out high-yield credit. I find it very difficult to understand the implications of secondary liquidity disappearance, and what that will do to the default cycle.

Name your favorite food and drink.

Smoked tuatua—a local shellfish. And a lager.

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

One fund that held Greek government bonds, the Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-preferred shares, and basically every big credit that blew up in the crisis.

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

Benchmark hugging. I think it applies to both institutions and private-sector asset managers.

Donald Trump is ________.

Causing huge debate. It’s on the news every night here.

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

George Soros as CIO, with Louis Bacon (Moore Capital Management), Paul Tudor Jones, and Julian Robertson (Tiger Management).

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

We got caught up with the Bank of Portugal in 2014, and have legal proceedings going on at the moment.

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

The big IT companies underwriting finance. Google, Facebook, etc. have better balance sheets than the banks do, and better information on clients, so would be the best underwriters of risk. I’d have thought they would be lending, but they’re not.