Class of 2017 Forty Under Forty

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Jordan Levine Assistant Treasurer & Director of Investments,, American Chemical Society
(Washington, D.C.) 39
Jordan Levine
(Art by Marcellus Hall)

Gifted at sifting through a lot of information and distilling from it clear and concise conclusions... He has an ability to think in terms of first principals. He is one of the rare individuals who manages to synthesize both the practical and the professorial. To wit, he once wrote to a manger suggesting that they apply a Brier score to more rigorously evaluate the quality of their analyst’s forecasts.

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

Introducing a framework where additions and removals to the portfolios are evaluated within the context of expected marginal contribution to risk and return. Fortunately, we have the transparency and understanding in our portfolios to implement such an approach with less guesswork than many peer institutions.

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

Equities; it is our largest risk contributor.

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

Mostly passive, with the caveat that it depends on the market. If there are a sufficient number of investors with quality information, then I am passive all the way.

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

I expect that 10 years from now, the reality of unfunded pension liabilities, particularly at several large state and municipal plans, will further taint the perception of how the institutional investment community is perceived by the public. I would like to see the community broadly communicate funding issues to stakeholders that are likely to be the most adversely impacted well ahead of time.

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

Seth Klarman.

Ideally, where would that meeting take place?

I wouldn’t be picky.

What is the software investment tool that helps you most?

Bloomberg.

What would improve the relationship between you and managers?

Better performance, lower fees, and clawback provisions where applicable would improve the relationships. However, in terms of a low-cost way to improve the relationship, I always recommend emphasizing facts and data over stories. I prefer to receive raw cash flows in Excel and calculate the IRR myself, as opposed to receiving an IRR in a PDF with an alternate calculation methodology and a story in a footnote about how the methodology used in the calculation is superior.

Why did you choose your current path?

I believe it is important work and there is an opportunity to add significant value if I do the job well. Also, I enjoy the relationships with peer institutional investors.