Interview with Investment and Asset Management Legend Angela Rodell
1. Angela you have a storied career in Asset Management. What are the biggest opportunities in that space now?
There is more interest now than anytime I have seen to make an impact through investing. It is relatively easy to deploy capital into impact strategies that are tied to specific firms and funds. For example, it is fairly straightforward to find an S&P500 impact fund that is designed around specific metrics such as net-zero carbon.. The real opportunity, however, is in direct investing in specific impact assets. There is a very real demand for capital in global infrastructure assets that are needed for real environment and social improvement.
2. Similarly, what are the biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge I think is to be creative and more long-term focused on asset management. It is very difficult to get stakeholders and shareholders alike to show the patience and effort needed to deploy capital in meaningful ways, likely forgoing current returns in order to make a much bigger long-term return and impact.
3. Data. How does data play a role in producing ROI in Asset and Investment Management and is the industry adept at harnessing data? What are the learnings here?
Data has the ability to play a significant role in producing ROI because it can really help inform trends for long-term returns. The industry is incredibly adept at harnessing data and making short term determinations. I think they are much more challenged at looking longer term, looking for directional trends and seeing past short term impacts. Finally, understanding the data can highlight underlying risks that impact returns which in turn allows a manager to more actively hedge against those risks, adding to ROI.
4. You have recently joined Pepper as an Advisory Board member. Can you help us with the value proposition there and how it fits into the future of Asset Management.
The platform Pepper has built fills a huge gap in the asset management space. As owners and managers of alternative asset portfolios, data comes from all different sources and systems. Often these different data sources, whether an electronic feed or a PDF document, need to have data loaded manually into a customized system that is not integrated with other risk and portfolio management systems. Pepper provides a platform that allows managers to analyze comprehensive data and gain an understanding of where risk exposures lie and inform any gaps in a portfolio, giving the manager the space and information to invest anew. This information absolutely increases the value of the portfolio as a manager can lean into the risk measures, de-risk where one needs to without necessarily giving up return.
5. Alternatives and Secondaries are burgeoning areas within Asset Management. What are the unique opportunities there in the next five years?
Alternatives and secondaries have changed so much in recent years. When I started with Alaska in 2015, the idea of evaluating the portfolio, selling certain assets and pivoting the alternatives allocation was the exception not the rule. Since then, the idea has gained traction and more asset owners are using the secondaries tool to more actively manage their portfolios. Over the next 5 years, especially if you see asset owners struggling with liquidity and total fund overweights due to down public markets, secondaries are going to be a key to staying invested in alternatives. Lower valuations will allow for many opportunities to those that have cash and asset allocation to invest.
6. Can you comment on the industry as a whole and its relationship to technology? Is Asset and Investment Management tech forward or a laggard?
I think overall asset and investment management is tech laggard. Asset & investment management is still a relationship business and we tend to adopt new tech reluctantly. I continue to see many opportunities for tech to significantly reduce transaction friction and increase price transparency – especially in the alternative, private space.
7. Pls share some parting thoughts with us.
The sheer volume of data today can be overwhelming and difficult to use and interpret with regard to investing. I think those managers that are going to be successful, impactful investors are the ones that are willing to be creative in their data usage, e.g. looking at nontraditional data points to inform potential future performance of an asset, but will only be as good as their data sets.
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