Class of 2017 Forty Under Forty

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Kevin Smith Chief Investment Officer, Carpe Investments
(New York, NY) 39
Kevin Smith
(Art by Marcellus Hall)

In the family office space for 8 years, he has a very strong network and a wide range of capabilities on the investing side in both direct investments as well as allocations

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

I was hired to build the investments platform for a single-family office, so there was a tremendous amount of change both structurally and philosophically to the organization. The most important part of building out the family office, and what I am most proud of, is creating an investment platform that reflects the personality, interests, and goals of the family, while at the same time incorporating my own investment biases.

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

Any direct investments in the private credit or equity markets. By definition, all public market investments publish all relevant information in the public domain in an easily digestible format. Once you take those investments to the private markets, you need to spend much more time, energy, and resources making sure you are up to speed on all aspects of the investment. It naturally creates much more stress and concern that you may be missing something.

What methodologies have you adopted within your institution?

Examining all investments on an after-tax basis. Ignoring short-term market volatility.

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

It depends on the asset class we are talking about, but if we are only talking about public equities and debt, I sit on the passive side of this debate. Information as it relates to public investments are disseminated in such an efficient manner and there are so many sophisticated players in the market place that are trying to create alpha through security selection is just incredibly challenging. Incorporate fund fees to that and it becomes an extremely challenging value proposition.

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

I would like to see an accelerated youth movement of sorts. If you look at most of the fastest-growing industries in the world, they are mostly led by the younger generation and I don’t think the Institutional Investing Community should be much different.

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

Ray Dalio. Whenever I am asked about “must reads” from anybody wanting to learn about the markets, I send them the link to his 30-minute video “How the Economic Machine Works.” Bridgewater’s use of historical analysis to examine where we are today and where we could be headed has always been the most useful approach for me to formulate investment strategies.

Ideally, where would that meeting take place?

My office.

What is the software investment tool that helps you most?


What would improve the relationship between you and managers?

Hard to generalize, but one thing I will say is that it is always very obvious which funds don’t put enough resources towards client reporting and IR infrastructure. This always becomes most obvious during times of market volatility.

Why did you choose your current path?

To be fair, if I was actually able to choose my path I would be playing for the NY Knicks. I would describe my career thus far as less a strategic path and more an iterative process of working hard and taking advantage of the opportunities as they were presented to me. I would advise anybody in this business to always keep their options open as much as possible.