2016 Forty Under Forty

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Jack EdmondsonDeputy CIO,Oxford University Endowment Management
(Oxford, UK) 38
Jack Edmondson
(Art by Lauren Tamaki)

“Jack is confident but witha low ego. Unassuming, a true team player who will go far.”

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

Younger investors challenge the accepted norms of how conventional assets should behave. It’s difficult for some of the baby boomers to question theories they grew up with.

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

Needing patience in decision making and in thinking how and when to react. I’m lucky to have a CIO [Sandra Robertson] who excels in this.

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

Ding Xuedong of the China Investment Corporation. Both from a practical perspective of having to invest such huge amounts of capital, and also strategically how the fund sees global markets evolving. It would be fascinating.

... and where would that meeting take place?

Ideally in his local watering hole. Alcohol is a wonderful shortcut to open conversations.

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

I once had a conversation with a prominent venture capitalist who didn’t understand the financial crisis or how banks really worked. He couldn’t believe the concept of credit creation and was terribly upset about the fact that it was standard practice.

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

Commodity futures. I think it is questionable whether they are useful or appropriate for any asset owner. They have crept into accepted approaches for conventional asset allocation and I think there are some big problems with that.

Name your favorite food and drink.

I’m not flashy—pizza and a beer do me fine.

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

I like wild, as it is often creative and not nearly as risky as standard approaches would tell you. Some of the most exciting and low-risk propositions I’ve seen are in frontier markets.

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

It’s deeply ingrained to speculate about macroeconomics and markets, and to make big decisions based on that. The error rate involved is enormous.

Donald Trump is ________.

A fantastic example of the tyranny of democracy.

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

I’ve been lucky enough to work with some fantastic people here at Oxford and in the industry. I politely declineto name them individually.

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

I wish I had realized how lucky I was at each stage to work with the people who have mentored me, and to learn even more from them.

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

Thinking clearly about how to make money. My job is to make as much money as possible for my investors—pure and simple. Unfortunately, a lot of what takes place in the broader investment world doesn’t help me do that.