Elizabeth Jourdan Deputy CIO, Mercy Health St. Louis, Missouri Art by Iris Lei
Elizabeth Jourdan

“Elizabeth is a talented, passionate, and energetic leader with a bias for action that inspires others to follow her vision and footsteps. Elizabeth has made significant contributions to Mercy through her investment expertise and mission-focused leadership and to the investment community more broadly through her portfolio management acumen, collaborative approach and passion to advocate for transformational change. And while many people know Elizabeth as a highly respected member of the investment community, the Mercy team knows her as a great person and teammate.”

— Anthony S. Waskiewicz, Jr., CFA, Chief Investment Officer, Mercy Health

Elizabeth Jourdan has been on the forefront of Mercy’s sustainable investing front for years, and gained recognition for spearheading some of the organization’s forays into socially conscious investing. She serves as deputy chief investment officer for the Missouri-based group, where she joined after working almost four years at Allied World, a P&C insurance company with a $9 billion investment portfolio.  

Jourdan’s responsibilities at Mercy Health System, a Catholic non-profit hospital system, range between due diligence, portfolio management, and sourcing unique, profitable investment opportunities.

She’s an investment committee member of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, a member of the St. Louis CFA Society, and a former board member of the Windsor Education Foundation. She’s also very spirited with regards to women’s rights, and is a founding board member and vice president of St. Louis Women In Investments Network, and chair of the St. Louis CFA Society’s Women In Investment Management Committee. 

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

Jourdan: If you believe we are in “late cycle” (and that’s a big if), it’s one of the more difficult time periods to invest. As we would in any other year, in 2019, we are focusing on the long-term and eliminating the noise. We have the flexibility to look at strategies that may be hard to scale (and that other allocators with larger boats to turn can’t!), and are an interesting risk-adjusted return opportunity. 

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

Jourdan: Technology is both a risk and opportunity: machine learning and artificial intelligence will bring further advances in automation and great opportunities to invest. It will also bring employees further up the value curve and create more quality jobs. However, it’s also important to consider how technology is disrupting certain mature industries when allocating capital.

My team was just in mainland China, and despite the trade-war headlines, it was fascinating to see the innovation taking place and the way digitization is impacting the Chinese middle class.  One example was the penetration we saw of digital payments across retail outlets. WeChat and Alipay are accepted everywhere, and in many cases are the only payments allowed aside from cash—international credit cards were a no-no. We were so sick of going to the bank by the end of the trip! And watching consumers buy KFC instantly with a scan of their phone (and knowing the data these companies are collecting with every scan) was incredible.

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

Jourdan: My family and I took on the challenge of packing up our small NYC apartment and moving to the Midwest for a great opportunity to contribute to a meaningful mission and work with a fantastic team. It was a great risk/reward and I don’t miss overcrowded subway cars!

I have a passion for the relative value complexity of allocating capital and the ability to be entrepreneurial as an allocator. It’s important to be thoughtful about your skill set and what drives you, and to be very intentional about the job choices you make. As one of my mentors once said to me, “No one is managing your career except you.”

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

Jourdan: Moving from cusip-level asset management to allocating institutional capital, and pushing myself to take well-calculated risks.

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

Jourdan: My favorite meetings are with managers who combine humility, intellectual curiosity, and a respectful willingness for debate. Everyone’s time is valuable; do not have your analyst call me and say “Please hold for Mr. XYZ.”

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

Jourdan: At a large group dinner a few years ago, I overheard one manager explicitly call his clients stupid when offering ‘advice’ to a young (allocator) analyst, boasting that if the analyst was smart he would become a PM. Humility is one of the most important characteristics we look for in manager due diligence, and that was a particularly poor judgement call within earshot of potential LPs! I felt especially bad for the fund’s marketer, who looked terrified and embarrassed. We definitely didn’t make an allocation to this manager then…and now it would be impossible because they went out of business.

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

Jourdan: You didn’t say they had to be living, so I’d be fascinated to have lunch with Alexander Hamilton, our nation’s first Treasury Secretary and proponent of the central bank, to hear what he thinks of our financial system 200+ years later.

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

Jourdan: I’d like to see greater diversity of thought across all types of organizations and asset classes because it will help us all perform better.

CIO: What are your hobbies not correlated to work?

Jourdan: Spending time traveling, attending concerts, drinking bourbon and cooking with my husband; running to burn off those calories, reading, and animal rescue.  

Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Jourdan will be a panelist at the CIO’s Influential Investor’s Forum preceding our Innovation Awards Gala on December 12, 2019. She will compete for the title of NextGen of the Year.

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