Asset owners and money managers, like everyone, approach the New Year with a mix of trepidation and excitement, with some resolving to stay the course and avoid worry following a 2018 that was volatile in ways beyond investing.
The ability to withstand downturns and volatility, an embrace of change and diversity, and discipline were among the pledges cited when Pensions & Investments' asked for New Year's resolutions.
Plan and money manager executives preached "the value of patience" and the banishment of "worry, doubt and fear." And some even spoke of personal goals, like getting that 100-meter swimming time down.
What follows is a collection of New Year's resolutions, edited for clarity:
Christopher J. Ailman, chief investment officer, California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento: Professionally: "I will try to not allow the important issues to get in the way of focusing on the critical issues. As a CIO, I will empower my staff and leadership team to run the ship and take charge. We will focus more on the diversity of our team and our managers." As noted by Winnie-the-Pooh in the film "Christopher Robin": "Enjoy TODAY, because yesterday, when it was tomorrow, it was too much day for me."
Personally: "I want to delete more emails and thin my inbox."
Robin Diamonte, CIO, United Technologies Corp., Farmington, Conn.: "To embrace change, be adaptable, learn from past mistakes, take risks, listen more and not to stress over the small stuff (although with $50+ billion in total plan assets — not much is small these days)."
Greg Fitchet, investment officer, Phoenix City Employees' Retirement System: "I will work on developing more effective ways to help plan fiduciaries understand the various elements of risk in the portfolio. I will also continue preaching the value of patience."
Angela Miller-May, CIO, Chicago Public School Teachers' Pension & Retirement Fund: "My resolution would be to continue to strategically construct a dynamic portfolio and investment process that will withstand market downturns and volatility over the long term. I would also like to identify a path to get more minorities and women interested and involved in the careers that the investment industry has to offer. If I am diligent at accomplishing these two goals, I believe that I can impact the success of Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund and further change the face of the investment industry as a whole by making diversity and inclusion a part of its culture."
Charles Van Vleet, CIO, Textron Inc., Providence, R.I.: "Banish worry, doubt, and fear. Remain intellectually at risk, all the time. Use God's gifts in the proportion given: two ears and one mouth. Buy low, sell high."
Theresa J. Whitmarsh, executive director, Washington State Investment Board, Olympia: "The WSIB resolves to … Exercise well: Use discipline and focus to stay on track with our investment strategy even when the market challenges us. Eat well: Stick to a carefully balanced diet of high-quality public and private market investments. Avoid empty calories like hedge funds. Sleep well: Provide our beneficiaries with the confidence to know their retirement assets are well-managed for the long term."
David Villa, executive director and chief investment officer, State of Wisconsin Investment Board, Madison: "We will stick to our strategy of building out the infrastructure, being a destination for talent and increasing the allocation to active management when others may blink and change course in the face of turbulent markets and outside skepticism."
Judy Marlinski, president of Fidelity Institutional Asset Management, Boston: "I'll admit that I'm not typically one for New Year's resolutions — every month or even every week, I try to think about what changes I need to make, and I'm pretty consistent on course-correcting throughout the year rather than holding off until Jan. 1. That being said, I have been thinking about how next year I want to commit more time to focusing on how technology will keep changing our business model."
Stephen H. Dover, executive vice president, head of equities, Franklin Templeton Investments, San Mateo, Calif.: "I will strive to spend less time on daily news headlines and more time focused on longer-term strategic thinking. I also want to take more time to connect with millennials to improve my understanding of their investing goals and expectations. On personal level, I plan to single-task more and multitask less, and as an avid swimmer, I'd like to get my 100-meter times below 1:20."
Dave Butler, co-CEO, Dimensional Fund Advisors LP, Austin, Texas: "Continuing to offer our clients the best experiences we can is something we resolve to do every year and will again in 2019. As we start the year, we encourage investors to have an investment philosophy and approach they believe in. This can help investors remain disciplined whether returns are strong or disappointing."
Nicolaas Marais, San Francisco and London-based president and head of multiasset solutions, Wells Fargo Asset Management: "For 2019, I am resolved to truly live the outcome! It's easy to be anxious when markets are volatile — we want to focus investors on their long-term goals, not short-term noise or fear. I know investors are edgy right now — where are markets going and what should I do? Let's focus on what really matters — protecting and/or growing wealth or earning income. Let's move away from jargon — and focus on practical guidance on achieving an outcome. Let's live it!"
Christopher Philips, head of Vanguard Group Inc.'s institutional advisory services, Malvern, Pa.: "Next year I plan to make concerted effort to put my New Year's resolutions into action both at home and at the office. To start, I'd like to improve my organizational habits and bring balance to my workspace. I often find it's easier to clean up our client's portfolios than the stack of papers on my desk!"
Joachim Fels, managing director and global economic adviser, Pacific Investment Management Co., Newport Beach, Calif.: "Bouts of volatility, like those we saw in 2018, are here to stay even in the absence of recession. A resolution most helpful for investors in 2019 would be to prepare for these rude awakenings in the markets by being defensive but also alert for opportunities that often emerge when markets swing."
Holly Verdeyen, Chicago-based senior director, defined contribution strategy, Russell Investments: "To be a center of excellence for asset owners wanting to drive better outcomes for stakeholders by reducing risk, improving incremental returns and reducing costs."
Rick Lacaille, London-based global chief investment officer at State Street Global Advisors: "To ensure that we add value in every step of our investment process, from ESG to trading to research and portfolio construction; to describe the contours of the investment landscape in all its complexity and ensure our investment teams identify the best opportunities for our clients; and to create the most attractive environment for talented diverse investment professionals to thrive."