2016 Forty Under Forty

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Chhayhea SamSenior Investment Officer,Public School and Education Employee Retirement Systems of Missouri
(Jefferson City, MO) 35
Chhayhea Sam
(Art by Lauren Tamaki)

“Chhayhea has developed intoan outstanding asset owner…and has incredible long-term growth potential.”

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

I think under-40 investors are more open to change and adaptable to different, off-the-beaten-path strategies than most baby boomers.

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

Typing up meeting and call notes. It’s a mundane task, but a necessary evil.

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

Warren Buffett. I want to learn how he’s managed to be so successful to this day.

... and where would that meeting take place?

At a small coffee shop in his hometown.

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

Many managers mistake me for a man—on calls and emails—because my last name is ‘Sam’. That first in-person meeting can be awkward.

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

Private real estate. It has had a good run and produced outsized returns—even in core real estate. In the future, the market is bound to turn. It shouldn’t be a surprise—or as bad as 2008—but where we are in the cycle puts us in a more cautious position.

Name your favorite food and drink.

Fajita chicken nachos and a glass of cabernet sauvignon.

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

One hundred percent risk parity. It’s different and interesting. It will work over the long term, but may be choppy in the short term, which could be difficult for some to stomach.

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

When managers and marketers pitch strategies and insist that they’re better than our current managers. If you were really that great, wouldn’t we have already been invested?

Donald Trump is ________.

Unstable. I don’t have a lot of trust or confidence in him as a leader.

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

Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Alan Greenspan, and Jonathan Gray (Blackstone).

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

Earlier in my career, I was more passive in expressing my opinions about decisions. It didn’t do me, or the company, any good. I had to live with knowing that either the company could have avoided bad decisions, or that my more outspoken peers overshadowed me. I have learned to become more open and honest about investment opinions.

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

Infrastructure investing in Africa. There’s a little bit of activity now, but Africa has very young populations that are eager to better themselves through higher education and jobs. Africa needs the necessary infrastructure in place to facilitate job creation for the youth and promote economic growth. This would be a great opportunity for private capital over the next 10 years.