Healthcare Investing’s Young Guns on What They Like About the Industry — And How They’re Leading Change

For the new generation of allocators, diversity is a top priority.

Andre Zhang, Giovanni Jones, Alyssa Rong, Abhishek Rane (Courtesy photos)

Andre Zhang, Giovanni Jones, Alyssa Rong, Abhishek Rane

(Courtesy photos)

It’s not easy getting started in the asset allocating business. Millennial and Gen-Z investors have some ideas about how to change that.

Institutional Investor spoke with four individuals who recently got their start at Hartford HealthCare and Ascension Investment Management about what they enjoy about working in the industry — and what they believe needs to change. Across the board, the young investors advocated for more opportunities for diverse and nontraditional candidates to work at healthcare foundations and other asset owners.

“My classmates’ dream job was getting into investment banking or private equity or venture capital,” said Andre (Jie) Zhang, a performance analyst at Hartford Health Care. “They had never laid their eyes on asset allocators. I think there is definitely more room for the industry to improve or attract this new talent.”

Zhang, for instance, started out at a boutique ESG investing firm in New York, providing data consulting services for sell side companies for just over a year. It was only then that he found Hartford Health Care.

“It was a perfect opportunity to advance my career path and to let me find what I really want in this position,” Zhang said. “My dream job was always working for the buy-side.”

Working as an allocator, he said, is “definitely the closest job, aside from a trader,” to the investment process. “I would say this is a more intellectually oriented industry where you are not only required to pay your efforts, but it’s a dynamic environment so you have to keep learning,” Zhang said.

Yet the lack of information available on working for the asset allocator side of the business means that college students don’t know about this career path — and institutions miss out on potential talent.

This can include students who don’t attend the elite private universities that financial institutions most frequently tap for new hires, as well as women and ethnic and racial minorities. The resulting lack of diversity is one of the major areas for improvement in the asset allocation industry, according to Giovanni Jones, a 2021 college graduate who now works an investment coordinator at Hartford HealthCare.

“Diversity of thought and diversity in every which way matters,” Jones said. “You can’t work in a place where everyone thinks the same.”

Take Alyssa Rong, investment analyst at Ascension. Originally from China, she didn’t know that she specifically wanted to work in investment management until her third year of undergrad. Her peers who had family in the industry and could network early had a different experience.

“When you want to improve DEI, you don’t have to pick from the existing pool,” Rong said. “You have to enlarge the pool to get the thing going... Hiring or having more open-minded when you’re thinking about interviewing people, maybe that’s something that’s key.”

Rong’s coworker Abhishek Rane, a senior analyst at Ascension, echoed the need to provide opportunities to less traditional candidates.

“I feel if given the chance, people will learn and they will do better,” he said.

Rane — whose current role focuses on day-to-day portfolio management, rebalancing, and building an internal risk management framework — said he has appreciated the mentorship and “solid support” he has received working at Ascension. “It’s really accessible,” he said.

Likewise, Rong praised the Ascension team’s friendliness and camaraderie. She noted that they meet regularly to share investment ideas and thoughts — and even disagree sometimes.

“I appreciate the transparency and flexibility that our team can provide,” Rong said. “If I want to participate in one project, I just have to volunteer.”

Ascension is not alone in that regard. As a junior staffer at Hartford Healthcare, Jones said he has enjoyed cultivating relationships with his team and external managers as well.

“I thought it would be very stern, very serious, but these are people who want a relationship with you and to combine efforts and collaborate which I really like,” Jones said. “I like how the community helps each other learn as well.”

Jones, who says he has a passion for public health, added that he loves the work “because I see it in the hospital.”

His advice to institutions hoping to attract and retain young talent?

“Everyone views work differently,” Jones said. “People of my generation really value quality of life and being challenged to use their different skill sets.”

Jones, Zhang, Rong, and Rane will speak alongside their CIOs David Holmgren and David Erikson at Institutional Investor’s upcoming Endowments and Foundations roundtable in Boston on June 7.