Wellington’s next CEO sees active management gain weight back

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(Bloomberg) – Jean Hynes knows the value of persistence.

Hired after college by Wellington Management in Boston as an administrative assistant, she rose through the ranks of research and portfolio management for three decades. In June, she took over as CEO when Brendan Swords left the private company, which had roots dating back to 1928.

The Boston-area native and daughter of Irish blue-collar immigrants will be the first woman to lead Wellington, which manages more than $ 1,000 billion. She joins a growing list of female CEOs overseeing some of the world’s largest fund managers, a group that includes fellow Bostonian Abby Johnson of Fidelity Investments.

Hynes, 52, faces a challenge as investors across the industry have shied away from stock and bond pickers for cheaper index funds for years. Wellington is best known for serving institutional clients and sub-advising active mutual funds for companies such as Vanguard Group. It also has $ 32 billion in growth in alternative assets, including private equity.

Hynes understands the task ahead. Wellington’s relationship with its largest client, indexing giant Vanguard, dates back to the 1970s. She is the lead portfolio manager of the $ 49 billion Vanguard Health Care Fund, which posted net outflows for the fifth. consecutive year in 2020, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

In excerpts from a Bloomberg interview, Hynes discusses active management, private equity and the lessons it can offer other women on Wall Street.

With the surge in active equity fund outflows, why do you think Wellington can thrive in the midst of secular change?

It goes back to our true north, to our belief in investment excellence. If we can consistently deliver alpha over a long cycle to our clients, we believe we will gain market share even if active management loses some. Second, with bond yields being where they are, alpha will play an increasingly important role in how clients meet their investment goals. Active has a place – perhaps an even more important place – to move forward. We have all the ingredients to deliver this alpha.

Wellington has just raised its third late stage private equity fund. Will the alternatives become more important as the markets change?

Five or six years ago we launched our first private fund, which was a late stage growth fund. And we have just raised the third vintage of this fund. It’s very exciting for us. When you think about how more and more companies are staying private longer, when they would have gone public, it’s just very close to what we do on the public side. We also launched our first vintage from our biomedical fund two years ago. Both of these strategies have been successful, so I would expect us to continue to invest in this area, where we have the talent.

You earned a degree in economics from Wellesley College. Why did you accept a position of administrative assistant?

I interviewed for two jobs, one with a better title, then in Wellington, which was an administrative job. But I knew when I arrived that I would also be doing work as an associate researcher. At the end of the day, it was the people – I really liked the people I was going to work with. And there was a recruiter, I often say that I wish I could go back and find her. She was very persuasive and said, “This business is special. You are going to have a lot of growth paths. So I just took the risk that she was right and it turned out to be true.

What lessons can you share as you rise through the ranks as a wife and mother of four daughters?

When I had my first child in 1998, I remember going to my manager to tell him that I was going to have a baby. He was very supportive and said, “You can continue on your path or if you want you can take a different path. I also remember that the then CEO came to see me and said, ‘You are 24/7 in your head’, which as an investor you are 24/7. 24/7 in your head, but that doesn’t mean you have to be in the office. Wellington has given me enormous flexibility. My husband and I put together a schedule that worked. I was very early and left at 4pm for a decade. But nothing stays the same. Wellington allowed me to adapt to changes. From a personal philosophy, there were a couple of things that were important. To be at dinner. My daughters were my truth tellers. After I became a managing partner, I thought everything was fine until I asked them how things were going and they said, “You’re not enough at dinner.

You have decided to remain a portfolio manager even if you become a CEO. How to balance the two roles?

I have to be very organized and thoughtful. I have defined how I am going to devote time to the practice as well as to my research in health care. We appointed a president for the first time, Steve Klar. I will be very focused on the investment platform. He will focus on our customers and our infrastructure platform. When you think of Wellington, we only do one thing: we manage customer money. And so, staying an active investor will allow me to stay close to that, the crux of what we do. Very close to talent. And as I grow as an investor, how can I help other investors grow? This will help me to stay close to initiatives, how we are going to develop talents.

© 2021 Bloomberg LP


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