He is one of the single greatest centers in NBA history. He won two NBA championships. He was a Rookie of the Year and, later, MVP. And, guess what, hes Texas Teachers newest asset manager. Who is he? Not sure? He was Olympic Champion (twice). Hes a ten time NBA all star and a Hall of Famer. He holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics. Go it? Still nothing? He was an officer in the Navy. Hes a big philanthropist and humanitarian. He got 1320 on the SAT (which was a monster score when he took the test the scorings different now, FYI). He was one of my favorite players growing up. I used to run around and yell his name whenever I blocked one of my friends shots. With me? He is David The Admiral Robinson. And, as it turns out, the Admiral is co-owner of a private equity company focused on commercial real estate that was just given a mandate by TRS. And, I have to say, I think thats pretty cool. Heres a blurb: Admiral Capital Group, a private-equity firm started by former San Antonio Spurs star David Robinson, received $15 million to invest for the Texas Teacher Retirement System under the funds emerging managers program.Big kudos to David Robinson; he was always a good guy on and off the court. In fact, he was such a good guy that when a player today wins the NBAs community service award, the league literally gives them the David Robinson Plaque. Thats legit. look it up. So its nice to see him excelling in this way after his basketball career. Anyway, you may be wondering how one goes from swatting basketballs like flies to managing money for TRS? The Emerging Manager Program. In case you arent familiar with emerging manager programs, these are generally mandates given to (but not limited to) minority-, women-, disabled- or veteran-owned organizations with less than -- usually far less than -- $2 to 3 billion in assets under management. CalPERS, Texas Teachers, Illinois Teachers, MassPrim and a variety of other US public pension funds have these sorts of emerging manager programs. As I see it, the motivation for these programs is two-fold:
- Since the asset management world seems to be predominantly male and Caucasian, these EM programs seek to inject some (needed) diversity into the industry.
- These programs seek to spot and then seed rising talents with favorable terms before they get too expensive. This means that a well-run EM program can generate solid returns for the pension fund (and theres some data to back that claim up). For example, at the end of 2010, Illinois TRS had graduated five of the 19 emerging managers it had seeded. Those five individuals are now managing between 100 to 200 million, having started out with a fraction of that.
Perhaps David Robinson will one day be known as much for his investment performance as his basketball performance? Whats the finance equivalent of a dunk?