2016 Forty Under Forty

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Chris HalaskaCIO,Memorial Hermann Healthcare System
(Houston, TX) 38
Chris Halaska
(Art by Lauren Tamaki)

“He’s transforming the investment program into one that his peers look to for forward-thinking investment ideas.”

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

Sub-40 investors seem more open to systematic and quantitatively driven strategies, while baby boomers frequently prefer more traditional analyst-driven fundamental investing.

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

Firing a manager.

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

Warren Buffett.

... and where would that meeting take place?

The Blue Bell ice cream factory here in Texas, because we both love ice cream.

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

Once at a hedge fund conference, I had a one-on-one meeting with a prospective manager. When I arrived, investor relations had to go wake up the CIO who was napping on a couch. Once he came to, he babbled on for 15 minutes about how there were no good investment opportunities in his fund. As you can imagine, we didn’t invest and I wasn’t surprised when the fund shut down...

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

Energy. It’s amazing how the price of oil is having such an impact on the broader markets, both domestically and across the globe.

Name your favorite food and drink.

Ice cream (see above) and Dr. Pepper TEN—it’s my daily afternoon caffeine kick. I’m not a coffee drinker.

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

One is very conservative and had 85% of its money invested in cash equivalents and fixed income. Another institution had 95% liquid equities, much of which was concentrated in just a few technology stocks—and this was back during the technology bubble.

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

The arrogance of some of the ‘star’ managers. Nobody can be right 100% of the time. I always appreciate managers who are aware of potential shortcomings with their investment thesis.

Donald Trump is ________.

Entertaining, but probably not our next president.

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

Since I happen to have a precisely four-member team here at Memorial Hermann, I would ask them to join me: Kris Chikelue, Ross Willmann, Danielle Villarreal, and Josh Vario.

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

Thinking interest rates are going to go up sooner than they have and positioning some of our fixed income portfolios accordingly.

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

Investing in professional athletes. Imagine a fund that takes equity positions in college athletes as they’re being drafted into the pros, and you pay a certain dollar amount to own some portion of that player’s future income stream. Not sure if this should be a mainstream asset class, but it would be fun...