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17 Signs You Were a CIO in 2017

...Chief investment officer of an institution, that is. Not that the Toyota didn’t already give that away. By Leanna Orr & Amy Whyte.

  • By Leanna Orr

1. You had one of your best performance years ever, and candidly have no idea why. Who knew it was this easy to blow the doors off?

2. Preqin’s quarterly private equity reports made you queasy — $1 trillion in dry power!? — so you stopped worrying when it hit around $700 billion, and learned to love your big, bloated 12-percent-IRR-machines. It’ll all work out... Right?

3. A board member asked you if the fund should be investing in Bitcoin. You patiently explained that it’s absurdly volatile, has no clear value, and is patently not an institutional asset. Then you snuck a look at your Coinbase app under the table.

4. “Scotchy, Scotch, Scotch, mmmm...”: You after every board meeting wraps.

5. You finally stopped feeling like a loser for not being able to get into the hottest venture capital funds, or any VC fund worth your money. Sure, you’ve imagined laughing it up at the Rosewood on Sand Hill Road with ‘Marc’ (Andreesen), ‘Rob’ (Wallace), and some teenagers with $100 million from Softbank. You’d all go to Burning Man together, and seed in the next Uber — no, Slack. Sipping Soylent, wearing Allbirds... Nope, you’ll never be a Silicon Valley insider, and hanging off the edges is way sadder than not playing at all. It’s like that first Saturday night in your 20s, when you and your cat watched Law & Order reruns and felt zero FOMO.

6. You tried (and failed) to make sense of a “black box” AI/quant/big data strategy, and wondered how much longer you have until the robots take over your job.

7. All the managers who made you sit through presentations warning that a “low-return environment” was just ahead and would crush you — but they can help! — have quieted down a bit. #Awkward

8. You feel sorry for the peers who listened to them.

9. The mountain of holiday cards from random asset managers didn’t take up quite as much of your desk (and recycling bin) this year. That useless practice seems to be on the wane. You consider mischievously highlighting this in your ESG compliance reporting. “In-house reduction of paper goods of approximately 45 percent, seasonally adjusted.”

10. You’d happily return to Peak Cold-Carding to never hear the words ‘Trump’ or ‘solutions’ ever again.

11. Thanks to that president and a certain “Little Rocket Man,” hedging against a nuclear war suddenly became part of your risk management plan.

12. There was no escaping Ray Dalio during his months-long book tour for Principles. After years of only occasionally popping up on stage at the Milken Institute Global Conference and in Davos, Mr. Bridgewater himself is everywhere: CNBC. Twitter. Talk shows. Investment trade rags, reputable and otherwise. The New York Times’ best sellers list.

13. You own a copy of Principles.

14. Tweets from @BitchyAllocator — a.k.a. Allocatrix — came up in your feed or casual conversation, and you sensed she’s the real deal. So did @CliffordAsness, who announced a 72-hour Twitter fast after she called him out to “get to adulting,” and pay more attention to LPs like her instead of sparring with random losers on social media. “My office has tens of millions of dollars invested with AQR,” she told him, with all of finance Twitter watching it go down. “The last thing I need is a board member getting butt hurt about your political commentary.” By the way, your instincts were right. She is a she, and an institutional allocator — but we’ll never tell you who.

15. Watching Bill Ackman get taken down a notch makes you smile a wee bit inside. (Exception: Pershing Square investors.)

16. Sexual harassment will be the next bomb to hit the finance industry, you predict, not a market crash. If you’re a woman, you’re revisiting your mental Rolodex of Men to Avoid at Cocktail Parties, and wondering if it’ll be the family office guy who followed you into the women’s bathroom then kissed you on the face, or the hedge fund marketer who you went to dinner with, and began speculating about your underwear preference by appetizers. You hope both.

17. Nine years into a bull market, and the living is easy for institutional CIOs. But you can’t help but wonder: when will the music stop?

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