Investment

What makes a top investment expert for a family office? The anatomy of the top 100

Is there a set of skills, educational background, or even gender that makes a top investment expert for a family office? Of course, there will always be outliers among the best investment experts in the world, but given the backgrounds of Family Capital’s top 100, some traits are more discernable than others. Here is a detailed breakdown of the expertise and backgrounds of the top 100.

If you want to be a top investment expert like a chief investment officer of a single-family office it helps to have a higher degree. That probably goes without saying, but the breakdown of educational backgrounds of the top 100 shines a light on what degrees and from what universities might be favoured more than others.

Only 11 of our top 100 were women

Fifty-six of our top 100 had MBAs, with Harvard MBA’s the most popular by some way – 13 had an MBA or masters degree from the Boston-based university. Stanford and Columbia were the next most popular, with both having seven each with MBAs or masters degrees from these universities. That was followed by six with MBAs from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Yale and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University each had three MBAs or similar degrees among the top 100.

Interestingly, top business schools in Europe like INSEAD and London Business School tended to be underrepresented, with only one from each having an MBA from these schools. Although marginal, the Europeans on the list were less likely to have MBAs, but many of them had some business education. Seven of our top 100 had PhDs.

Sixteen out of the 100 had just a first degree. This might seem rather high given the level of expertise required to be a top investment specialist at a family office. But no doubt practical experience and contacts help to bridge the gap on any perceived or otherwise in educational skill differences between these individuals and those with higher degrees.  

Ten of our top 100 has worked for Goldman Sachs in the past, with most being employed by a big bank sometime during their career, most straight after university. Ten have also worked for another family office before joining their current position. As the professionalization of the sector continues, this number is likely to grow as a total proportion among the top 100.

Most had started their careers gaining general asset management and corporate finance expertise, but gone on to specialize in areas like private equity. Nine of our of the 100 had exceptionally strong venture investing skills and five had very strong impact investing/social entrepreneurship backgrounds and expertise. Five also could be described as possibly more entrepreneurial than the others as they had started their own investment business or startup. Three could be described as predominately real estate investment specialists and only two had a strong hedge fund background.

When it comes to gender, only 11 of our top 100 were women, suggesting the sector, as Family Capital has written about before, might have an issue with gender equality.

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