Class of 2017 Forty Under Forty

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Laura Hill Portfolio Manager, Alternative Investments, Advocate Health Care
(Downers Grove, IL) 36
Laura Hill
(Art by Marcellus Hall)

Laura has been impactful on making significant changes to the Advocate manager lineup since she joined Advocate about 3 years ago. She is smart, inquisitive and not afraid to ask managers the hard questions. She is definitely a rising star among asset owners.

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

I’m particularly proud of the most recent three years of my career, during which I’ve gotten to help with the heavy lifting in the buildout of Advocate’s in-house investment program. I’ve had to pivot among numerous asset classes, and think outside the box in terms of ways to get the best risk/return and diversified exposure, not conforming to strict buckets or drawing lines between typical asset class labels. I’ve worked hard to build a roster of managers that share our values and are good partners as well as good investors.

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

If an investment kept me up at night, I’d suggest we immediately do something to resolve it. I would be up at night if we were significantly invested in core open end real estate or highly leveraged buyout funds.

What methodologies have you adopted within your institution?

Over the past few years, I have built out several reporting tools that have helped increase visibility into our portfolio, including forward private equity commitment modeling, exposures monitoring, and a hedge fund sizing tool.

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

It depends on the asset class, as well as your team size and limitations of the organization. If you can’t structure your team to monitor active manager behavior, or stomach tracking error over a reasonable period of time, then you probably will end up terminating active managers at precisely the wrong moment. For our traditional equities portfolio, we are almost entirely with active managers, but we recognize we are fortunate to have the right team and governance in place for this structure.

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

Diversity. Hire investment professionals that encompass a more diverse set of gender, ethnic, and educational/work backgrounds. I am 100% confident this will be a return-enhancing endeavor.

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

The best part of this job is getting to pick the brains of countless extremely smart and successful investment managers every day. So, I’d like to pick the brain of an entirely different type of manager—probably someone like Mark Zuckerberg.

Ideally, where would that meeting take place?

One of Facebook’s super-hip offices, I imagine involving something like a beanbag chair-based conference room and fresh-squeezed green juice machines (or is that very 2014?). Anyway, I’d have to show up wearing a puffy vest to fit in.

What is the software investment tool that helps you most?

Excel. It’s like the Swiss army knife of finance.

What would improve the relationship between you and managers?

Fee transparency and more dialogue while structuring terms.

Why did you choose your current path?

This is one of the few careers that lives in the intersection of investigative journalism, finance, economics, and relationship building. I feel very fortunate that I get to do this, all while supporting Advocate’s healthcare mission.