Yusef Kassim – CUP Leadership Board Spotlight- Feb. 2012

 

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?

I work in the Investor Relations group at Eton Park Capital Management, an $11 billion multi-disciplinary investment firm. The core function of this group is to manage the global marketing, investor communication and service related aspects of the fund.  I work in a team of six that manages the relationships with several hundred institutional investors including sovereign wealth funds, public and corporate pensions and endowments and foundations.

Prior to joining Eton Park, I was a Partner and Head of Marketing & Investor Relations for R6 Capital, a multi-strategy hedge fund with a focus on corporate and asset-based investing.  Eton Park, in an effort to further enhance their credit expertise, acquired the assets of R6 Capital in 2007.  I spent most of my career on the sell-side (Goldman Sachs, Gerson Lehrman Group) providing research, financing and coverage to hedge funds, proprietary trading desks and private equity firms.  By 2007, I decided to move to the buy-side and was subsequently recruited by R6 Capital (led by the former co-head of GS Special Situations, a former client of mine).

What is the biggest challenge of your work?

It takes a sincere love of markets and a strong desire to deliver outstanding service to thrive in this field.  I believe every job has some challenges but that is far outstripped by the tremendous opportunities one can create and bring to fruition in this space.  Over the last ten years alternative investments have gained acceptance by many of the leading consulting/advisory companies and public pensions.  Current penetration levels are in the low single digits (in other words, hedge funds make up a very small portion of the standard asset allocation model).  Over the next 10 years, studies project penetration levels to more than double.  Also, sovereign wealth funds are actively investing with hedge funds and looking to co-invest on specific investment opportunities.  IR/marketing professionals serving as the face of their respective firms have an incredible opportunity to forge long term relationships with these potential partners.  Also, IR professionals serving as the repository for investor feedback can be responsive to the changing needs of their clients by creating customized products. While there will always be challenges associated with building out a successful investment management firm those pale in comparison to the daily opportunities you are presented.

What is your proudest achievement?

I worked with a potential investor for over two years which entailed 38 meetings and multi-hour conference calls before they invested.  We had to work through an in depth risk management, legal/regulatory and portfolio review involving multiple counter-parties before it was ultimately finalized. My role was to manage this entire process and it confirmed my belief of approaching partnerships as a long term investment.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?

My top 5 in no particular order would be my parents, Bill Gates (most thoughtful philanthropist of our time), Warren Buffett (best investor of all time), Barack Obama and Anthony Robbins!

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I hope to have a family by then and hopefully a good work/life balance.  I also hope to continue to raise the bar for my profession so that we are consistently viewed as strategic-thought partners to the institutional investment community.

What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?

First, find out what your good at but don’t pursue a career in that field.   Second, find out what you’re exceptional at (which may take longer to determine) and follow that route with all you got.  If you are brave enough to do that you will absolutely make a tremendous impact.