Stephen Blundin Vice President – Equities & Alternatives, Verizon Investment Management Corp. Basking Ridge, New Jersey Art by Iris Lei
Stephen Blundin

“I love that Steve can ask the high-level strategic questions to the CEO and then get in the weeds with the portfolio manager. He manages a diverse set of assets from public equity to hedge funds to currencies to, most recently, private equity. So his skill set is wide-reaching. He also recognizes the value of client relationships. At the end of the day, it’s all about performance and delivering results. But along the way, the ride sometimes gets bumpy and he’ll work with the manager to improve performance.”

—Larry Fulton, CIO, Verizon Investment Management Corp.

Stephen Blundin joined Verizon Investment Management Corp. right out of college 14 years ago, and he’s steadily developed his acumen to oversee more than $25 billion of assets. His career arc has seen him rise through the ranks at Verizon to become responsible for all aspects of portfolio oversight, including manager due diligence and portfolio construction. Today, he leads the firm’s entire absolute return strategies

He originally joined as an operations specialist in 2005, and moved onto US equities, then hedge funds, liquid alternatives and strategic partnerships, to public equities and alternatives, and lastly to vice president of equities and alternatives.

Blundin holds a B.A. in economics from Muhlenberg College and is a CFA charter holder. His position, despite its challenges, leaves time for ample golfing, travel, and building solid business partnerships.

CIO: What makes 2019 an interesting investing climate? How are you handling it?

Blundin: 2019 is interesting because of how 2018 ended, the current geopolitical atmosphere, the role central bank policy has in driving the market, and being 10 years removed from the Global Financial Crisis. It’s late in the cycle and there are areas of stress, yet the market remains fairly resilient. We are long-term investors, so we try to avoid doing anything drastically different now than we would at other times. That being said, we try to stay agile enough to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. We continue to focus on building a portfolio that can withstand periods of market stress and remain nimble enough to take advantage of those periods.

CIO: After this year, what are the largest opportunities and the largest threats you see on the horizon?

Blundin: I think continued uncertainty is the largest threat, whether around rates, trade, or politics. The potential for missteps in central bank policy or in foreign policy that could have a meaningful and lasting impact on the economy remains a real threat. That uncertainty will lead to volatility and potential opportunity. 

CIO: How did you arrive at your current position? And why did you choose this part of the financial services industry?

Blundin: How I got here is fairly straightforward. I started at VIMCO right out of college and have been here ever since. I’ve had a number of different roles that have given me exposure to nearly every area of the organization over the last 14 years. I started in operations and moved to the investment team where, over time, I worked on our US Equity portfolio, our Hedge Fund portfolio, our Global Credit program, and our Strategic Partnerships. In 2013, I took over responsibility for Hedge Funds and Strategic Partnerships. Now, I am a member of the investment committee and responsible for public equities, hedge funds, FX, private equity and real estate.

This side of the industry is fascinating. The market is constantly changing and forces you to continue to learn and gain knowledge across multiple disciplines. At the end of the day, I want to know that what I am working on has meaning and makes a difference, and this side of the industry offers that. I enjoy the chance to work with smart and interesting people to solve complicated problems that can have a real impact on the people that rely on these funds for their retirement. Over my career, I have been very fortunate to work alongside some incredible people. 

CIO: What was the most important strategic allocation of your career?

Blundin: It’s difficult to point to one specific allocation and call it the most important, especially at this point in my career. Plus, I would say that all decisions are team decisions at the end of the day.

CIO: Tips for money managers who want to work with you, especially what not to do.

Blundin: Be honest and forthcoming. I’d rather hear the ugly truth than be told a lie that we will fact check and uncover. Also, don’t badger. Coming back from time out of the office to find multiple voicemails and emails from the same manager looking for a meeting is not a good look.

CIO: Biggest goof a money manager has made with you? 

Blundin: A manager has lied to me when I already knew the truth. We can’t build a relationship if I can’t trust the person on the other side of the table.  

CIO: Who in the financial world would you like to have lunch with and why?

Blundin: Josh Harris. I’d like to hear about his game plan for the Sixers and talk about his views of the Premier League and the challenges of owning a team outside of the Big 6.

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

Blundin: I’d like to see a more collaborative institutional investing community that makes it easier to work with other investors, not just sharing ideas, but actually partnering to make investments that are mutually beneficial.

CIO: What are your hobbies not correlated to work?

Blundin: Sports and travel. I play as much golf as I can squeeze into a season. I still play soccer and I am a big Philly sports fan. I also love to travel. I try to take a couple of big trips every year with the goal of visiting at least two new countries each year.

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