2016 Forty Under Forty

Back to Forty Under Forty
Jonathon EckSenior Investment Associate 
Federal Reserve Office of Employee Benefits
(Newark, NJ) 32
Jonathon Eck
(Art by Lauren Tamaki)

“Very smart, thinks beyond the status quo… Jonathan is alreadya terrific asset in the industry.”

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

Perspective. Baby boomers got to work in a period with strong investment returns across basically all asset classes, whereas sub-40-year-olds saw the bursting of the tech bubble and the global financial crisis as the entry points to their career.

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

Saying ‘no’ to funds or strategies that have merit and are managed by intelligent people, but don’t fit with our overall portfolio strategy.

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

David Tepper (Appaloosa Management).

... and where would that meeting take place?

Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

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

A mid-level investment manager—no one famous—gave a presentation to my investment committee. In his flipbook was a page featuring quotes from famous investors like Warren Buffett—except for the last quote, which was from the guy giving the presentation. He glossed over the first couple and talked about himself and his quote in the third person.

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

Class A CBD (central business district) office space. The appreciation has been so great. I don’t necessarily see a crash coming, but I see very little upside left.

Name your favorite food and drink.

Pizza and the latest batch of my homemade beer. As of yesterday that was a blonde ale.

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

Prior to the financial crisis, I saw a large number of securities lending fixed-income portfolios that were packed with CLOs, CDOs, SIVs—collateralized loan/debt obligations, structured investment vehicles—all those acronym-labeled structured securities backed by subprime mortgages. And no one seemed to care because they had a triple-A rating.

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

Bad managers never really go away. They could lose millions or billions and people still give them more money.

Donald Trump is ________.

The person who gives Kevin directions in Home Alone 2.

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

As an avid sports fan, I’m not a big believer in dream teams—they hardly ever work out well—but if I could have four full-time phone-a-friends just to pick their brains, they would be David Swensen (Yale), Mohamed El-Erian (Allianz), Sam Zell (Equity Group Investments), and Warren Buffett.

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

I bought a condo in July 2007, and sold it in 2014 at a big loss.

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

Infrastructure investing within the US. So many other countries have found ways for investors to own infrastructure assets, but we haven’t figured out a structure to get money flowing to needy areas.