August 9th Minutes re Seminar with Murina Chan:
Xiaobo Wang introduced briefly about Murina Chan.
WCM and her personal life
Murina Chan first became involved with WCM eight years ago. She attended events and joined the membership committee before becoming a director on the board 3 years ago. She was recently appointed to the role of WCM Vice President in May 2007.
Aside from work and personal activities, she also likes to give back to the community through volunteer work and fund raising for charities.
She enjoys focusing on personal develop and building people skills to expand her scope and learn more. She achieved this through her time spent on WCM, especially during her time on the board.
She values “balance” throughout her career. She started to focus more on her balanced life after starting on the fixed income trading desk at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. She started to workout during the morning time and paid more attention to a healthy lifestyle. Now she has completed marathons in different locations, such as New York, Chicago and she is currently training for a marathon in Hawaii.
She also loves traveling as she travels for work purposes as well as for pleasure.
She completed her economics degree from The University of Western Ontario. She was shy at a young age being one of five girls in her family. To overcome her shyness, after university, she backpacked around Europe for a few months and lived abroad working in an accounting firm in London. A year later, she moved back to Toronto, joined National Bank, and started her CFA studies. Later on, she switched to OTPP to join the Finance Department in Swaps & Derivatives with a focus on financial reporting and valuations.
Moving up within OTPP
She started to build up her work relationships while she was in the finance group at OTPP. Two years later, she switched to the Research and Economics department doing programming and testing of regression models.
During her time in the research group, she was also responsible for the board report which allowed her to communicate to many of the VP from different departments. She then landed her position in the fixed income department – trading floor after two years of proving her knowledge, people skills and work ethics in the research area.
Being on the trading floor desk is different from reporting, valuation and programming work as it is more male-dominated the focus is on trading and making strong returns for the portfolio.
Suggestion One: Communication styles differ among various departments. On the trading floor, do not take any comments personally as sometimes handling the traders communication style can be a challenge. Speak up to make sure you are being heard.
Suggestion Two: Be an expert on something, i.e., knowing & owning a certain skill and proving your value (knowledge).
Suggestion Three: Be “on top mind” of your boss so you can be noticed and remembered. Book time with your boss on an on-going basis and let them know what you are working on. However, be professional and respectful of their time availability. When trying to discuss issues or when presenting a problem, do convey the facts but also offer solutions/alternatives and the benefits of the resolution. Be sure to offer value in your solutions.
Suggestion Four: Get coaching. She started to have a life/career coach to help in attaining her goals in her career, such as moving to the next position level. Also, while at WCM, she participated in the mentorship program and found a great mentor to help support her and offer suggestions in her development.
What she is doing now?
Murina has been at OTPP for 11 years and has worked in three different departments. She is currently the Assistant Portfolio Manager for the External Manager Fixed Income portfolio. They analyze hedge funds and private equity style funds with a holding period for 5 to 7 years. Strategies in the portfolio may include buying distressed debt funds who invest in companies going through corporate restructurings and leveraged loan funds investing in companies going through a refinancing or M&A. The fixed income department has plenty of exposure in US, Europe and Emerging Market, and now looking for more opportunities in Asia.
When selecting the fund managers, she looks for managers with experience, long track record and strong expertise in their strategies as it is the skill set and pipeline that is a key success factor. Also of importance is to examine when profit was made during certain market conditions, as well as the way losses were handled.
Legal and operational due diligence is performed on all funds. It may take a few months before a deal is closed because developing a long term strategic relationship is important in finding managers with similar investment styles consistent with the portfolio’s objectives.
She also maintains contacts and builds relationships with the managers. It is critical through monthly calls and monthly reports to obtain full transparency on all the investments held in a fund. When investing in the manager, she needs to focus on the underlying assets, while most of the time the managers are not willing to share the information of the assets. Though it can be challenging at the beginning, she is able to negotiate the full disclosure requirements by ensuring the information is used for risk monitoring purposes and the focus is on the risk of the fund’s exposure.
She also sits on some of the funds’ investment committees to evaluate the credit quality of the investment names and approves deals that are allowed to be invested on behalf of the portfolio.
OTPP and the market
In the last few years, the fund and its portfolios have experienced superior returns. However, given the recent volatility in the markets, opportunities have shifted to take advantage new buying opportunities
OTPP is comfortable with the short term volatility as the market does present some buying opportunities and it is confident in the long term outlook.