Class of 2017 Forty Under Forty

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Nicholas Csicsko Investment Director, Trinity Wall Street
(New York, NY)
Nicholas Csicsko
(Art by Marcellus Hall)

An adaptable, curious and agile mind that moves forward through learning and doing...Has a way with people that makes them want to help—very good with investment managers who usually hide inside their pitchbooks. I’ve never seen anyone with an arc of learning as convex as Nick’s.

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

When I was finishing my doctorate at Juilliard, I never imagined I would be part of a team building a newly formed $2B investment portfolio within a $5.5B, 320-year-old endowment. Training as a musician and composer has provided an unusual perspective towards most things, which I try to bring to our work building Trinity’s portfolio. I have been fortunate to have incredible mentors who have not only made me a better investor, but have been willing to engage in countless debates about investments, process, and philosophy. Having the opportunity to help grow and diversify Trinity’s endowment for the coming centuries is humbling and inspiring as we constantly work to improve.

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

Most of them. I like to worry.

What methodologies have you adopted within your institution?

It’s all new at Trinity, and we are working to integrate past successful habits, avoid those that have been less successful, and create new best practices.

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

Considering we are experiencing one of the best 8+ year runs ever, it is tempting to be seduced to believe that passive is the future. Not knowing the future, I would wager that we are experiencing a cyclical peak that is accompanied by generally positive changes across the active asset management universe. I am also biased to want active to win… time will tell.

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

Longer-term focus, compensation, and contracts. We should not invest on behalf of permanent capital institutions with short-term personal commitments. Governing bodies must also evolve.

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

Thomas Ades.

Ideally, where would that meeting take place?

A bar.

What is the software investment tool that helps you most?

Turning it all off and reading.

What would improve the relationship between you and managers?

More time to understand and develop partnerships.

Why did you choose your current path?

I have always been fascinated by the connections that make the world tick, driving people and businesses. Partnering with investment managers with a focus on people and companies globally is fascinating. This, in combination with the opportunity to help build a portfolio that enables an organization to further their mission, is very gratifying.