Class of 2017 Forty Under Forty

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Patrick De Roy SVP, Research—Depositors and Total Portfolio, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec
(Montreal, Canada) 39
Patrick De Roy
(Art by Marcellus Hall)

He was one of the youngest actuarial candidates ever to complete the grueling exams. Later on, he became one of the youngest principals ever at Morneau Sobeco. And now, at less than 40 years of age, he is a leader at one of the largest institutional investors in the world.

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

When I look at the different jobs I’ve held, there’s one word that links them all: conviction. I’ve always believed in the work I do, in the teams I manage, in the organization I work for. Conviction is key in making good decisions and enacting them while still considering the ideas and arguments of colleagues and partners. Conviction is also an essential part of innovation. It prevents self-doubt from getting in the way of creating a new tool, product, or strategy. Conviction is the thread that has bound my career so far, and I am very proud of what it has helped me, my colleagues, and partners accomplish. Conviction enabled me to be a real change agent in every position I’ve held.

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

Investments that are made to get a “liquidity premium” like private equities. Strong demand for such investments in recent years has driven prices to unprecedented levels. Discipline in asset selection will therefore be even more important going forward to avoid bad surprises.

What methodologies have you adopted within your institution?

I believe robust financial modeling is key to portfolio construction. Throughout my career, I have put a lot of effort into improving financial models and tools, despite knowing they aren’t perfect. They are very useful for sure, but we should never fall in love with them!

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

Although I believe in active management, I think the active vs. passive “value added” debate is a little overdone. In my view, the biggest advantage of active management is the implicit risk management that comes with it.

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

I’d like to see ESG guidelines rigorously incorporated into the investment process. I think that the institutional investing community has an important role to play for future generations.

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

It might not be original, but I would love to spend an hour or two with Warren Buffett!

Ideally, where would that meeting take place?

At Buffet-owned Dairy Queen… eating a Blizzard!

What software investment tool helps you most?

I like to use personalized tools, designed in-house, rather than “off-the-shelf.”

What would improve the relationship between you and managers?

The best way to accomplish great things is to have different expertise sitting at the table. In this way, I believe more cross-business line discussions and channels of communications are key.

Why did you choose your current path?

I didn’t choose a specific career path. I made my own path, seeking out the most interesting challenges. I consider it a real privilege to work in the field.