Chevy Chase Trust Noteworthy - Q & A with Amy P. Raskin

Q & A with Amy P. Raskin

Amy P. Raskin, Chief Investment Officer

On February 3, 2014, Amy Raskin, joined Chevy Chase Trust as Chief Investment Officer and Senior Managing Director. A well-known thought leader in the asset management industry, Amy brings 19 years of experience in investment management and research. Read our interview with Amy to find out why she came to Chevy Chase Trust and her view of the opportunities in thematic investing.

Why did you join Chevy Chase Trust?

After 13 years at AllianceBernstein, 10 of which I spent leading thematic research and investment teams, I was ready for the next challenge in my career. Chevy Chase Trust is the perfect match for me in terms of both skill set and culture. The firm is a leader in thematic investing and embodies the professional characteristics about which I feel strongly, most notably, an unyielding drive for excellence on behalf of clients coupled with the highest standards of integrity.

Why are you such a big proponent of thematic investing and why do you believe the opportunity for thematic investors is particularly attractive now?

Thematic investing provides clients with diversified portfolios that benefit from economic changes powerful enough to influence corporate performance across multiple industries and geographies. Over time, companies with thematic tailwinds tend to outperform their competitors and provide shareholders with above-market returns.

Today is a particularly attractive time to be a thematic investor for two reasons. First, the asset management industry has moved away from long-term, active investing which creates an opportunity for firms like Chevy Chase Trust. After the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, fear of further losses led investors to pull $1.2 trillion out of active management, (a full quarter of all equity holdings!). About half of this money went into passive index funds, and half left the asset class altogether. Some industry analysts estimate that over 60% of all equity investments are now held by index funds or quasi-index funds. This massive shift toward indexing has likely contributed to the outperformance of the indices over the past several years, as inflows pushed the shares of the constituent holdings higher. Evidence suggests this migration is waning, if not on the verge of reversal. I expect increasing flow to active managers, creating new opportunities for firms like Chevy Chase Trust.

Second, many large asset managers have moved to “style box” platforms in order to satisfy their institutional clients. With “style box” investing, investable opportunity sets are segmented into very narrow categories such as “European Small Cap Value” and “US Large Cap Growth”. This approach works for institutions with hundreds of billions of dollars to invest and large investment teams dedicated to allocating the money. Style box solutions, however, are often not appropriate for individuals who need an investment manager to provide them with a tax-efficient, diversified portfolio that can outperform in a wide variety of market environments. However, this can be accomplished with a customized, thematic portfolio.

In your opinion, what are the challenges to thematic investing?

Thematic investing sounds much easier in concept than it is in practice. Most forward progress accrues to the advantage of the consumer, not a corporation. Therefore, thematic investors must not only identify powerful disruptive trends but also isolate companies that are positioned to benefit from these disruptions for a sustainable period of time. In many market segments, this is extremely difficult because barriers to entry are falling faster than ever due to advances in technology and widespread outsourcing options. Successful thematic investing requires deep research expertise and the curiosity and creativity to envision change. Simply following an index or a quantitative model is certainly easier, but it is far less lucrative for clients over time.

What drives you to come to work every day?

My singular goal is to generate positive outcomes for clients. I feel a great responsibility to perform for each and every client and work hard to earn their trust. This is consistent with the personal approach that Chevy Chase Trust delivers to clients.

In your opinion what are the most important criteria to fostering a healthy, happy and productive work environment?

I recognize that no matter how hard I work, I alone cannot even come close to doing everything required to meet our clients’ objectives. In order to satisfy the diverse goals of our clients, we need to operate as a cohesive team with an unwavering focus on performance. We must trust and respect one another’s viewpoints and encourage active and constructive debates. Team members must be accountable to one another and have the creativity and adaptability to not only adjust to a constantly changing marketplace but also to thrive in complex environments. I have a long history of leading investment teams that leverage each member’s core strengths to perform for clients. When a team clicks, it is a wonderful experience for everyone. I am confident in the high-quality, investment professionals at Chevy Chase Trust and am very excited to join this winning team.

Does your degree in engineering help you understand more technical themes or impact your investment process in some other way?

I have always been an extremely curious person. When I was younger, this curiosity manifested itself in the desire to solve concrete problems so I naturally migrated to math and science. This, coupled with my father’s strong encouragement to earn a “useful” degree, (his words, not mine), led me to pursue engineering. Although technology has changed considerably since I graduated college, my engineering studies taught me to think logically, never stop questioning and to embrace seemingly daunting challenges. I hope I do all of these things every day.

What do you like to do when you are not working?

As a thematic investor, it often feels like the workday never ends as I am continually assessing changes in the world. However, I am very lucky to have a wonderful husband and adorable little son, who truly inspire me and provide a perfect respite from the markets. We love spending time together as a family, often at a playground, zoo or with our extended family. I also have a slight addiction to the NY Times crossword puzzle which I try to complete every day.

Read Amy’s bio »