2016 Forty Under Forty

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Katharine WyattDirector, Investment Funds,Abbott
(Abbott Park, IL) 37
Katharine Wyatt
(Art by Lauren Tamaki)

“Katie’s in-depth investment and operational knowledge and strong work ethic are an invaluableasset for a small investment team.”

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

There is a different investment environment paradigm for the younger generation. The under-40 group has never experienced investing in a high, or meaningfully rising, rate environment.

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

Administration work, tax compliance, audit, paperwork… Basically anything that takes my time away from investment focus.

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

Warren Buffett. There are a lot of complex and highly engineered strategies out there, but I admire the simplicity of his philosophy: Invest like you own the businesses and invest in businesses that can compound returns over the long term.

... and where would that meeting take place?

Fishing in northern Wisconsin. It’s peaceful and you can talk about the world while casting for fish.

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

I didn’t know ahead of time that the prospective manager I was meeting with didn’t speak English, and I didn’t speak his language either. The investor relations person translated the entire conversation back and forth. He was a talented manager, but it made for an awkward conversation.

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

Global fixed income with low to negative rates around the world is concerning. US equities look fully priced considering growth is still pretty low and profit margins are high. Upside looks limited, so your portfolio’s main return engine isn’t expected to deliver you much and diversification via fixed income earns low expected returns.

Name your favorite food and drink.

Seafood and a glass of white wine.

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

An institutional portfolio made up of a random collection of single stocks and commodities exchange-traded funds.

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

When managers raise ever-bigger funds, especially with general partner-friendly terms. And when asset owners have to compete for an allocation to oversubscribed funds.

Donald Trump is ________.

Making a lot of headlines.

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

I’d have myself to oversee it all, and hire a person for direct private investments, an asset allocation and public markets person, and someone to deal with all of the taxes and administration. [Ed. Note: Don’t think we didn’t notice that she failed to answer the question...]

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

I don’t consider it a career misstep, but if I had a do-over button, I would have started my career off differently. I began my investing career in a family office setting. I maybe would have cut my teeth at an investment consulting firm or an institutional investor.

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

Trends come and go. Just focus on your objectives and keep a long-term perspective.