Ahmad Khan Senior Investment Analyst,
SSM Health
Ahmad Khan

“While Ahmad’s career with SSM Health remains short, it has been incredibly bright. Ahmad joined SSM straight out of undergrad and immediately became immersed in all aspects of a highly sophisticated and complex $6 billion-plus investment program. In Ahmad’s 3-plus years at SSM, he has gained invaluable exposure in investment operations, risk management, public/private manager sourcing and underwriting and ongoing portfolio monitoring. He has also prepared multiple presentations for various SSM investment committees and leadership team members. Ahmad’s professionalism and external demeanor is incredibly advanced for an individual at the early stage of his career. He demonstrates an objective, data-driven investment framework and provides exemplary research and support for the team’s largest strategic projects.  We are confident that Ahmad will be a highly successful and influential institutional investment leader for decades to come.”

—Mark Cagwin, CIO, SSM Health

The CIO Editorial Team shared a dozen questions with all of our NextGen nominees and asked them each to pick six to answer. Their answers informed our decision to include them as a NextGen. Below are the answers from Ahmad Khan.

CIO: How are you dealing with rising inflation and interest rates?

Khan: Inflation continues to be a hot topic for discussion within our organization. As a health care organization, we get a front-row seat to inflation, given rising costs in health care such as nurse staffing, medical equipment and supplies. A crucial part of our role is to provide a ballast to operations, so inflation is a factor we most worry about in our day-to-day portfolio management. To insulate our portfolios, we continue to allocate toward private markets, particularly real assets. We believe esoteric strategies such as gold/precious mineral mining, infrastructure financing and other niche strategies provide the best hedge to inflation. We continue to explore opportunity sets within these spaces.

CIO: Is cryptocurrency an institutional asset of lasting value?

Khan: Against my inner economist, l believe cryptocurrency has its merits in today’s world. However, I think it is difficult to consider it an institutional asset at the moment. Until cryptocurrency is widely given a platform for use by custodians and banks, it’s challenging for institutional investors to assess the lasting value. Now I wouldn’t say I am skeptical on crypto overall, but rather cautiously optimistic.

CIO: What are the most important alternative asset classes for institutional investors, and why? 

Khan: I believe private equity will continue to be the most important alternative asset class for investors, given the breadth of strategies and managers’ ability to generate tangible improvements to businesses in various cycles. As we have seen more recently, there is no place to hide during turbulent markets. However, private equity has shown resilience when compared to other asset classes. There continues to be a cautionary tale about private equity valuations. However, I see this risk mitigated at the lower and middle market end of the spectrum, where opportunity is given to smaller and niche managers to sell businesses to large funds attempting to deploy a significant amount of dry powder.

CIO: What asset class or investment troubles you most right now—and why?

Khan: Where do I begin … How about private credit? In the past decade, we have seen a significant emergence of private credit strategies across all sectors of the market, both in the sponsored and nonsponsored spaces. Most of these managers have been able to take advantage of a decade of strong mergers and acquisitions activity, which has resulted in a strong performance. However, as allocators, it has been difficult to differentiate between managers and evaluate track records when many managers look alike, and most have not invested in recessionary environments. With so many managers raising and deploying capital today, it will be interesting to see how the private credit space is impacted.

CIO: What is the best way to bring more diversity to the financial industry?

Khan: In my opinion, I believe diversity goes beyond just a change in how firms hire, but rather a change in how we go about welcoming new ideas and perspectives. Even with updated hiring processes, I believe that firms should have more community involvement. I believe building long-term, deep-rooted relationships with underrepresented communities will organically drive diversity in the industry and bring out new ideas and perspectives that can drive results for both firms and communities.

CIO: Which asset manager (exclusive of their firm) has most influenced your growth as an institutional asset manager?

Khan: Truthfully, my CIO: Mark Cagwin. I started my career as an allocator before I knew what an allocator was. I arrived shortly after graduating college, and Mark took an active role in mentoring me. With his guidance, I have had the privilege of not only being involved in the investment-making decision process from day one but also being given key leadership responsibilities within the team. These early opportunities have led to my growth thus far, and I certainly would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for Mark.

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