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The 2015 Hedge Fund Rising Stars: Robert Kennelley

Fluent in Mandarin, Rocaton Investment Advisors’ alternative investments specialist is a quick study.

  • By Tyler Davies

Robert Kennelley

In these times of low interest rates, raging equity markets, currency wars and economic uncertainty, you don’t need a sense of humor to be an alternative-investment consultant — but it helps. Robert Kennelley, 31, is smart and funny. In his spare hours, the director of alternative investments for Norwalk, Connecticut–based investment advisory firm Rocaton Investment Advisors enjoys improv comedy. He’s also fluent in Spanish and Mandarin. The son of an oil company executive, Kennelley grew up mostly in Indonesia and Malaysia. He attended the International School of Kuala Lumpur and earned a BA in East Asian studies from Princeton University. Kennelley learned Chinese during college; he even had to defend his thesis in Mandarin. After Princeton, he went into investment banking at Deutsche Bank in New York, becoming an associate in 2009. The next year, Kennelley left Deutsche to get his MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business. While studying, he had internships in emerging-markets fixed-income sales at HSBC Securities and as an emerging-markets and high-yield credit fixed-income analyst with bond manager Rogge Global Partners. Keen to be a part of the capital allocation process, after graduation Kennelley began a job as a research specialist, with a focus on alternatives, at Rocaton, which has $440 billion in assets under advisory, and quickly rose at the firm, gaining a promotion to director in 2014. Although the role hasn’t afforded him much opportunity to put his language skills to work, he has been able to use another talent: writing. Since joining Rocaton, Kennelley has penned four white papers on alternative investing for the firm and its clients — including his most recent, published this month, entitled "Incorporating Alternatives in an LDI Growth Portfolio."

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