Former Two Sigma Exec Opens Consulting Firm

Karyn Williams and a Towers Watson alum are reentering the advisory game.

Karyn Williams (courtesy photo)

Karyn Williams

(courtesy photo)

Two Sigma’s former client solutions chief Karyn Williams has launched an institutional consulting business, Hightree Advisors, the firm announced Wednesday.

Williams spent much of her career as a consultant, and she’s brought on another industry veteran — former Towers Watson Investment Services senior consultant Mike Dudkowski — as a managing principal.

“There is this shrinking world of independent voices,” Williams told Institutional Investor in a phone interview Wednesday. “A lot of consultants have moved into asset management-like businesses, into OCIO, or turned the businesses over and sold them. One of the most important things about us at Hightree is unconflicted expertise.”

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Hightree is based in Los Angeles, with Dudkowski leading an East Coast office. It specializes in helping smaller endowments, foundations, pension funds, insurers, and health care systems improve “the effectiveness of every investment dollar that stands behind that organization’s purpose.”

Williams has a highly risk- and technology-attuned investment style, developed over time in academia and consulting, as CIO of Farmers Insurance, and at quant shop Two Sigma. Part of Hightree’s pitch is bringing that expertise to institutional funds without in-house investment staff.

Unlike some other consulting firms, “We’re willing to work with clients of all sizes,” Williams said. “The kinds of portfolios you would see us effectively design are risk-aware first. It tends not to be the case anymore that you need 50 managers, but rather fewer that do their work excellently, and have made the critical investments in technology.”

Williams has been quietly building Hightree for some time, she said, and already has a roster of clients.