Alexandra Coupe Associate Director, Quantitative Equity Strategies, Pacific Alternative Asset Management Company, LLC
Alexandra Coupe
(Art by Victor Juhasz)
“Alexandra is a cornerstone of our portfolio management team. She possesses a unique combination of quantitative abilities, market instincts, and interpersonal skills, which have served her well in her relationships with the CIOs of many of our most important clients. She is a creative thinker and we have relied on her to work with our clients to design solutions for a range of investment challenges. In addition to all this, she is a pleasure with whom to work and I am so proud of her many successes.”

—Jane Buchan, PAAMCO CEO

Coupe is adamant in keeping her investing team informed as the PAAMCO associate director talks big data, diversity, and challenges as we move forward in this digital age.

Finding new talent with an eye towards PAAMCO’s emphasis on emerging managers and customized mandates, Coupe loves her job as well as the thrill of due diligence and determining where the puck is going with the firm. Touting collaboration and a team-oriented culture, Coupe makes sure the investment team and other departments are all informed on ways to improve returns for the company. Other than a brief stint at Green Street Advisors, Coupe has spent her entire career at PAAMCO.


CIO: What are the accomplishments you are most happy to have achieved recently, and why?

Coupe: PAAMCO is a collaborative and team-oriented culture, so while there are many accomplishments, the glory is hardly my own. On this note, though, I’m particularly proud of the role I’ve played in increasing information sharing between the investment team and other departments. For example, I’ve spent a lot of time with our in-house Treasury group to learn more about borrow rates and their volatility across regions. This has been helpful as I evaluate quantitative strategies in different geographic regions. These insights are now being shared with portfolio managers across our strategies, and it is rewarding to see our collaborative culture in action to improve the investment process.


CIO: What would you be most excited to accomplish in the year ahead, and why?

Coupe: I approach every year with the same goals: 1) Find return-enhancing investment solutions for our institutional clients and 2) Balance my professional aspirations with the demands (and joys!) of raising my three children.


CIO: What’s the most rewarding aspect of being an asset owner?

Coupe: Investing is fun, but the way we invest here at PAAMCO is particularly rewarding with the emphasis on emerging managers and customized mandates. I love finding bright new talent and helping to grow a business while at the same time generating returns for our clients.


CIO: What’s the most challenging?

Coupe: Good decisions, bad outcomes. It is incredibly challenging to spend a lot of time, resources, and brainpower to thoughtfully understand an investment and structure it in a way that we see as having a lot of potential, and then find that it doesn’t turn out the way we expected. Whether it’s an external market event or a change to a key factor in our investment thesis, it is frustrating to have an extensive due diligence process and high expectations for returns, and it just doesn’t work out.


CIO: What are you most hopeful about in the future of the industry?

Coupe: An increase in diversity, and not just the type of diversity we typically think of (e.g., ethnicity, gender, etc.). I am hopeful the industry will continue to benefit from an increase in diversity of backgrounds and education. I believe a breadth of experiences enables us to make better decisions while also better appreciating the diverse needs of the clients we serve.


CIO: What are you most cautious about?

Coupe: I am excited about the increased use of data and technology in investing, but I am also wary about how it is used. As we’ve seen lately in the news, there are many nuances to data—how it’s gathered, stored, used, and protected—that may not be clear to those involved. Further, we are seeing how advances in technology, like on-demand cloud computing, are enabling investment strategies across even small firms that were previously confined to the very large and well-funded firms. However, just because someone is able to now employ methods like machine learning or artificial intelligence doesn’t necessarily mean the strategy will generate acceptable risk-adjusted returns.


CIO: As a leader, what are the most important aspects of the industry you hope to change over your career?

Coupe: That’s a big question! I hope to continue to work towards better alignment of interests between asset owners and managers. I would like to continue to advance creative thinking about investment structures such that both asset owners and managers feel they are partners working towards a common goal of delivering returns.


CIO: If you had one piece of advice for your peers, what would it be?

Coupe: Find a field or a job working with people you like. So much of the fulfillment of my job comes from doing work I enjoy with people I admire and like.


CIO: What are the biggest current trends you are seeing that have surprised you?

Coupe: The rapid adoption and acceptance of artificial intelligence and machine learning has surprised me. Just a few years ago, the murmuring of a new machine learning technique and strategy seemed limited to the more quantitative strategies. Today, we often hear about fundamental managers using machine learning or AI as part of their process. These are methods that have been around for decades, but it is amazing how quickly they are being adopted in a variety of applications.