Class of 2017 Forty Under Forty

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Minoti Dhanaraj Senior Investment Officer, Employees’ Retirement Fund of the City of Dallas
(Dallas, TX) 39
Minoti Dhanaraj
(Art by Marcellus Hall)

Her strategic knowledge of all asset classes and her attention to detail makes her a valuable member of our team. With over 15 years in the financial services industry, she is a future leader in this industry.

How have you been a change agent at your organization? What have you done that you’re particularly proud of?

During the last two years at the Employees’ Retirement Fund of the City of Dallas (ERF), I have tried to constantly consider new frameworks, methodologies, processes, and points of view when evaluating both our investment and business processes. My focus on regularly re-evaluating assumptions has allowed me to provide current, dynamic, and responsive feedback on both business projects and investments.

What is the asset class or investment that keeps you up at night, and why?

MLPs. At the end of 2011, ERF began investing in MLPs. We favored the them due to their low correlation to other asset classes, stable cash distributions, an attractive yield, and compelling relative returns. The low correlation benefit reversed in 2015 when oil prices plummeted, and MLPs followed suit. This required us to re-evaluate the asset class and maintain the discipline to stay invested.

What methodologies have you adopted within your institution?

I have assisted in implementing a better compliance monitoring system and a private equity pacing analysis process with the assistance of our managers.

Where do you fall in the passive vs. active debate?

I am predominantly in favor of active investing. We have managers that have consistently outperformed their benchmarks over a market cycle. In addition, active management can help with risk mitigation by reducing shortfall risk.

What are the changes you’d like to see the institutional investing community make in 10 years?

I would like to see an increase in women within the investment community. I was recently made aware of an organization called Girls Who Invest. They note that only 13% of portfolio managers in North America are women compared to 32% in Asia.

Who is a manager you don’t currently work with whose brain you’d like to pick?

Warren Buffett. I met him during my 2007 MBA Investment Management Group trip to Omaha. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to speak with him at length.

Ideally, where would that meeting take place?

At his favorite steakhouse in Omaha again, or have him visit us here in Dallas.

What is the software investment tool that helps you most?

We are in the process of reviewing some software tools to evaluate both performance and risk. I currently utilize our custodian’s system for most of my analysis.

What would improve the relationship between you and managers?

Our managers are very good at keeping us informed about anything that may affect their firm, product, and/or asset class. They are extremely bright and accomplished people, and it would certainly be great to have more time to learn from each one.

Why did you choose your current path?

Since high school, I have been interested in the financial markets. I decided to study both Finance and Mathematics, and later went on to Chicago Booth to get my MBA. Post-MBA I worked as an Equity Research Analyst and then approximately two years ago started in my current role as a Senior Investment Officer. This has been a great opportunity for me to combine both my education and career background in evaluating all asset classes. In addition, I have enjoyed the added benefit of helping the civilian retirees of the City of Dallas know they can feel financially secure in retirement.