The rising stars of 2020

15 up and coming professionals from all areas of the asset management world

Below are the 15 rising stars of 2020, who will be recognized at this year’s The Mutual Fund Industry and ETF Virtual Awards on July 23. Click here to find out more about attending.

 

Abigail Bertumen, General Counsel, Exchange Traded Concepts

Education: Ithaca College (B.A.), 2001, University of Baltimore School of Law, (J.D. Magna Cum Laude), 2008

Mentors: John McGuire, partner, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, Chris Menconi, partner, Morgan Lewis & Bokius

During college Abigail Bertumen worked for a local newspaper in Ithaca. “I always had a mind to go to law school but I was interested in becoming a speech writer and thought I would get into that field by studying journalism and the law,” she says.

As she worked in different newsrooms she decided that speechwriting and journalism might not be for her, but law remained a primary interest. Before law school she found work at Duetsche Asset Management as a paralegal to test out the waters. With that knowledge and her appreciation for the work, she decided to attend law school in Baltimore where she grew up.

Upon graduation she took a position at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Washington D.C. in their investment management group where she had had a summer associate position a year before graduation. Her time there was spent working with open-ended mutual fund complexes and updating and drafting prospectuses, as well as Investment Advisor Act work for advisers and registered funds. While at Morgan, Bertumen also started working with ETF issuers to help them set up their funds.

In the interim, Bertumen had moved to New York and later decided to spend time in London with a Linklaters in their investment management group for two and a half years. Just over two years later she reached out to Exchange Traded Concepts (ETC) when she heard of an opening and as been with them since 2017.

“Exchange Traded Concepts is a white label ETF provider so we work with sponsors and providers to bring their particular ideas for an ETF to the market…we handle registration with SEC, marketing, distribution and all that entails to bring an ETF to the market,” she notes.

At ETC, Abigail leads the legal team including regulatory and fund governance matters for both the ETC Trust and Exchange Listed Funds, as well as other regulatory, corporate and other legal work for the adviser. She also oversaw the reorganization, including the proxy process, of an existing ETC into a new shell fund overseen by ETC.

“We launched five funds with a large mid-Western asset manager called 6 Meridian. They came onboard to work as a sub-adviser with us. That is something we are particularly proud of.”

Watching the company grow and helping expand the business to include portfolio management are things she’s proud of. “To be the senior counsel and one of the senior people overseeing the day-to-day operations is especially gratifying.”

Outside of work Abigail is involved with the Women in Law section of the NY State Bar Association. Recently she had written a memo on cyber-stalking, supporting updates to out-dated regulations.

 

Adam Henkel, Senior Counsel, Invesco PowerShares

Education: Northwestern University (B.Sc/B.A), 2002, Northwestern University School of Law (J.D.), 2005

Mentors: Anna Paglia, Global Head, ETFs and Indexed Strategies, Invesco

Adam Henkel’s first career plan was to work in radio, television and film. He managed to do some internships at the Leo Burnett ad agency’s web design department in Chicago. But his interests slowly turned away from animation and film. “I’ve always been someone that has a creative bent but I found that when you turn creativity into a job it’s actually not all that rewarding,” he explains.

After weighing other career paths he got more serious about graduate school and when down the path of law. His first summer in law school he worked in-house with a division of SC Johnson Wax. “It was a very interesting experience for me and solidified that I wanted to do something in the corporate world.”

Later in law school he found Chapman and Cutler, which he thought to be a good fit for him and where he worked for five years. While there he worked partially in their securitization group but because of the financial crisis of 2008, migrated towards Chapman’s unit trust business. While there, he worked with First Trust and its ETFs and started to learn more about the business. Despite the changes taking place because of the financial crisis, “it was a burgeoning industry and I was happy to get in on the ground floor.”

Henkel wanted to pursue something more in-house and took an opportunity with US Bancorp Fund Services in Milwaukee. “They wanted to build their servicing for ETFs and I was a good fit to offer legal services and help guide other parts of their business in establishing the service model they would have for ETFs generally.”

Three and a half years later Henkel moved to Invesco to work on their PowerShares ETF brand and has been involved in ETF work for the past six and a half years. He works with outside counsel to help lower costs as well as developing in-house commodities law expertise for Invesco’s 40 Act registered products that invest in commodities, and Invesco’s 33 Act registered and listed commodities pools.

“Leading into 2017 I had done a lot of work with our chief compliance officer reviewing and revamping policies…The head of compliance and head of legal came to me and asked if I would be interested in the CCO position,” says Henkel. He took the role for a short while for the adviser and trust generally overseeing the compliance program to the ETFs, before moving back to the legal department.

Henkel also does work with the National Futures Association.

 

Andrew Fleming, Vice-President and Portfolio Manager, Heartland Advisors

Education: Georgetown University, (B.Sc), Finance, 2004, Marquette University Law School (J.D.), 2007, University of Wisconsin-Madison (M.B.A.), 2012

Mentors: Brad Evans, Senior Vice-President and Portfolio Manager, Heartland Advisors

A stint as a wide receiver for Georgetown University never landed Andrew Fleming a football career – mainly because he was never after one.

Fleming had always been a finance major and was interested in business, which is what he thought he would do after law school.

After getting his law degree he worked for three years between law school and acquiring his M.B.A at McKinley Reserve, at a Wisconsin-based family office. He supported the private investment activities of the firm and helped raise capital for its portfolio companies. His work included due diligence, market research, financial modeling, and valuation analysis.

A scholarship at University of Wisconsin allowed Fleming to pursue his business goals by completing an applied M.B.A focused in security analysis, while working as a tutor at the school.

A two-year internship at Heartland Advisors landed him his role. He has been there ever since. Fleming started as a research analyst and morphed into a portfolio manager position about three years after starting.

Currently he manages the firm’s small-cap value fund. “Going to school during the financial crisis helped me develop a healthy scepticism,” says Fleming. “As a business strategy you get a better feel for what’s realistically going to work and what’s not going to work.”

due to the current pandemic, Fleming says there is a more nuanced approach to small-cap companies. “We’ve put up some good numbers in the last three to five years and the reason is that when you think of small-caps you think of two big risks – financial risk and operational risk.”

Outside of work, Fleming works with Georgetown alumni admissions helping to interview potential candidates. He also serves on the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, a local non-profit. He also is a panellist on the Concordia University Wisconsin investment program, which is another mentoring program for juniors and seniors in college.

 

Elizabeth Lance, Vice-President & Legal Counsel, Legislative Affairs, T. Rowe Price

Education: The College of William & Mary (B.A.), Anthropology, 2008, Vermont Law School, (J.D., cum laude), 2012

Mentors: Kathleen Hutchinson, Deputy Director of International Affairs, Securities and Exchange Commission

She’s not quite Indiana Jones, but Elizabeth Lance grew up wanting to be an Egyptologist and eventually worked as an archaeologist prior to finding her vocation in law. Her interests were geared toward biosciences and she worked with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation archaeobotany lab. Her job involved digging for seeds that had been burnt during the Civil War to analyze and assess the botanical history of the region.

Lance is greatly concerned with the environment and environmental studies, which led her from anthropology to Vermont Law School, one of the top environmental law programs in the country. “I took as many environmental and financial law courses as I could and really started to gravitate around securities regulation and the capital markets,” explains Lance. She also studied abroad in France and interned at the SEC.

She initially worked as a contract attorney at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Her work there involved concerns around auto-loan lenders, payday loan companies and for-profit educational institutions. Eventually, after a government hiring freeze was lifted, Lance was hired by the SEC in 2014 at the office of international affairs. “My role was analyzing international regulations that would impact US asset managers. When T. Rowe Price decided to start their international regulatory team, I jumped in,” she says.

Four years after she started at the SEC, Lance took a position at T. Rowe Price. Lance represents T. Rowe Price on important mutual fund policy issues such as proxy voting and ESG.

One focus for Lance has been looking at European Union regulatory issues at the intersection of environmental concerns and capital markets. “I’ve been able to assess the impacts of global regulatory developments related to ESG and stewardship as they are being developed, and advocate for better outcomes for T. Rowe Price and our clients.”

She now manages a team of people who will be implementing new regulations and coordinating across business leaders to assess positives and negatives for the business.

 

Christopher Healey, Associate, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

Education: Tufts University (B.A.) Philosophy and Religion, 2006, George Washington University Law School (J.D), 2011

Mentors: William Healey, father, retired lawyer, Rajib Chanda, partner, Simpson Thacher

Christopher Healey did not have plans to work in law, or especially as a ‘40 Act attorney, despite his father having that kind of career at companies such as Dreyfus, Prudential and Allianz. Christopher’s ambitions were more geared toward teaching, which he did in the South Bronx.

After teaching, “I took the first decent job I could get and that happened to be a paralegal at White & Case working on international bank finance deals and that’s where I decided I might enjoy this as a career,” he says. “It was a stark contrast to working in a school in terms of the environment and how ambitious people were.”

He knew he wasn’t interested in litigation and tried to meet as many people as possible learning about corporate law. During his time there he interned both at the Investment Company Institute and the SEC. He also wrote a Law Review article about the ‘40 Act. “I asked the ICI if they had ever hired a summer intern before and they said ‘no, but we have an empty office and you are welcome to use it and work there for free.’” This is how Healey created the ICI internship program, which now has two or three interns per semester.

In 2010, Healey worked the summer with K&L Gates and ended up there for about three and a half years doing investment management work with closed and open ended funds.

At law school, Healey wanted to work for a lawyer at Ropes & Gray but was unable to do so. Instead he received a call from his soon-to-be mentor, Rajib Chanda, who had moved from Ropes & Gray to Simpson Thacher.

When he moved over there were only about four or five lawyers working primarily on closed-end offerings. Healey was brought on to help clients tap other investor capital beyond large institutions. Today the group has about 20 people and three partners. “We’re helping clients who have traditionally never done registered funds get into that space and learn how to work around the issues,” he explains.

The past year Healey also handled major representations for ride-sharing company Lyft as ‘40 Act counsel in connection with its IPO.

Outside of work, Healey has been co-chair of the D.C’s Bar investment management committee trying to attract younger members.

 

Eric Simanek, Partner, Sullivan & Worcester

Education: Middlebury College, (B.A. summa cum laude) Russian and Economics, 2005, American University Washington College of Law (J.D. magna cum laude), 2008

Mentors: David Mahaffey, partner, David Leahy, partner, Sullivan & Worcester

While studying in Yaroslavl, Russia, as part of his economics classes, Eric Simanek came to a conclusion. “I started to appreciate the importance of rule of law in terms of contractual and business matters, as well as business interactions,” he explains.

It was because of that trip that Simanek came back and decided he wanted to learn about and work in corporate law. Out of law school he went to work at Dechert, focused on mutual funds and ETFs. He also took a year from Dechert to clerk for the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island.

In 2014 he worked at Reed Smith for a year and the joined Sullivan & Worcester a year after. Shortly after he came to Sullivan as a lateral associate, Exchange-Traded Managers Group (ETFMG), with whom Simanek worked at his prior firm, followed him to Sullivan and engaged the firm as the outside counsel.

ETFMG is focused on thematic investments for which Simanek helped form the first ETF focused on shipping futures, the first actively managed US ETF to fully utilize artificial intelligence as a method for stock selection, as well as helping develop an approach, approvals and relief to create a cannabis fund.

Simanek has developed significant experience with exchange-traded commodity-based invest vehicles. He has worked closely with clients to turn investment ideas into workable products that fit within the requirements of applicable law. In this area, Simanek has impacted the industry by taking a leading role in developing novel products and in obtaining novel relief from the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets.

He also advises investment advisers on issues relating to registration and compliance policies and procedures. Eric often advises ETFs and CPOs in connection with their exemptive relief and the launch of new funds, as well as non-investment companies on issues regarding their status under the Investment Company Act of 1940.

Simanek also serves on the Advisory Board for the Administrative Law Review.

 

Jamie Gershkow, Associate, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young

Education: University of Maryland, (B.A. magna cum laude), Criminal Justice, Government and Politics, 2009, Drexel University School of Law (J.D., magna cum laude), 2012

Mentors: Joan Swirsky, retired counsel, Michael Mundt, partner, Stradley Ronon, Bruce Leto, attorney, Stradley Ronon, Matthew, Co-chair Investment Management Group, DiClemente

Although Jamie Gershkow was not necessarily thinking of financial services, she had been interested in a career in law from an early age. “I graduated undergraduate school at a time of the last recession and received a scholarship to go to Drexel and while there I had a summer associate position at Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young,” she explains. “As part of their summer experience you get assignments from all practice groups.”

After receiving advice and insight from members of the investment management group Gershkow became more familiar with financial services and enjoyed the work, not having previously considered it.

Upon graduation she received an offer from the investment management group. She says Stradley Ronon’s mentoring program really aided her at the beginning where she was matched with someone who was working with ETFs, which is where Gershkow cut her teeth.

Jamie concentrates solely on advising investment companies, independent trustees and investment advisers. Following the adoption of fundamental reforms to regulations affecting money market funds, Gershkow worked extensively with clients in navigating the complexities of money market fund management and regulatory compliance under Rule 2a-7.

Gershkow was elected by her fellow associates for consecutive two-year terms on Stradley’s Associates Committee, and also serves on Stradley’s Hiring and Technology Committees. Gershkow began her career in Stradley’s Philadelphia office and has since moved to Stradley’s New York office.

Among her other duties Gershkow is the lead associate on the fund and independent trustee representation of the UBS Chicago fund complex, a complex with over $2bn in AUM. She counsels with respect to federal securities laws pertaining to the funds and has assisted in the legal work necessary to create and launch several new funds, including those involving unique or novel investment strategies such as impact investing. She participates in board meetings and also drafts and reviews critical documents, such as registration statements, investment advisory agreements, compliance policies and procedures, and board meeting materials and minutes.

Also, she assisted in connection with the launch of Franklin Templeton’s alternative strategy, multi-manager funds, including the drafting and negotiation of sub-advisory contracts with unaffiliated investment management firms, reviewing the compliance programs of proposed sub-advisers, and the drafting of information statements and other filings in connection with the addition of new sub-advisers.

She is a founding member and serves on the leadership board of Women in ETFs – Philadelphia.

Gershkow also serves on the board of the Schuylkill River Development Corporation, a non-profit organization that works with the City of Philadelphia and stakeholders to build, maintain, and program Schuylkill Banks.

 

Jordan Farris, Managing Director and Head of ETF Product Development, Nuveen

Education: University of Michigan (B.A), Economics and Sociology, 2002, Northwestern’s Kellog School of Management (M.B.A), Management Strategy and Finance, 2012

Mentors: Lawrence and Patrica Farris, William Belden, President Amplify ETFs 

It may be hard for some to make the connection from pre-med to financial services, but Jordan Farris was able to do so. With an eye towards pre-med in his undergraduate days, Farris was more interested and intrigued by the economic and business courses than chemistry and biology. He changed direction and the rest is history.

Shortly after graduation, Jordan Farris went to work as a financial adviser for Raymond James & Associates in Ann Arbour Michigan. He also had a stint in Washington, D.C. with Rydex Investments, which had a lot of interesting ETF products that it was bringing to its institutional client base.

After working at a branding start-up company called The Electric Sheep Company he moved back into finance and worked with Northern Trust. Later he went back to school and while getting his M.B.A served as a Senior Vice-President of institutional business and development for DirexionShares. “I got a good education in terms of capital markets and product development as well as complicated client interaction,” notes Farris.

Farris wanted to say within the ETF industry but on the distribution side. In 2013 he worked with Guggenheim Investments as a Director of Product Development for ETFs.

In 2016 he was offered the opportunity to work at Nuveen as part of the launch of its ETF business. He is responsible for developing and bringing Nuveen ETFs to market, as well as overseeing the ongoing management of the funds. “I think it’s really important, when joining a firm, to connect with investors and understand what their evolving needs are in terms of an investment product,” adds Farris. “I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do in terms of an asset raise. It’s not easy to launch an ETF business in the market these days and we were able to launch a business with 13 products and more than $1bn of assets under management.”

Within the firm, Farris often takes the lead on speaking and press engagement opportunities. Outside of work he is involved with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program and shares the local board chair of Women in ETFs.

 

Luis Ochoa, Vice President Strategic Planning, BNY Mellon

Education: Stanford University, (B.A), Economics, 2008

Mentors: Randall Temple, Director, Corporate Chief of Staff, BNY Mellon, Whitney Duggan, Director, Business Management and Strategy Execution, BNY Mellon Wealth Management

The study of economics can be a lot like fencing. The “lunge” or “parry,” and the back and forth, or up and down, of the match can also describe the rhythms of the economic cycle. While at Stanford University, Luis Ochoa trained in both.

He explains that he has always had a strong passion for economics. “I gravitated toward the problem-solving mindset, to work on challenging business questions and identify opportunities for companies such as what new markets to enter or what they should consider in a strategic partner.”

Upon graduating, Ochoa joined Deutsche Bank as an investment banking analyst focused on industrial companies. There he was interested in gaining experience in financial statements analysis, corporate evaluation and financial modeling. “It was a tremendous opportunity to lead industry analysis and advise companies on their strategic response,” he says.

He then moved to Jefferies & Company in 2010 where he focused on mergers and acquisitions, also for industrial companies. He later spent time at Capital Capable Group, where he analyzed customer demographics and provided strategic support for new product launches.

While volunteering with a not-for-profit which was focused on professional development, Ochoa met someone who suggested he apply at OppenheimerFunds, where he landed a role as an associate, helping to form the corporate development function and creating a process to assess acquisition opportunities.

After taking time as an independent consultant for traditional asset managers, Ochoa moved to BNY Mellon in 2018.

“I was particularly attracted to BNY Mellon because of its position as an industry leader in financial services and this was a major opportunity for me to partner with top talent and dive deeper into investment management and strategic planning with major players in the space,” says Ochoa.

Ochoa has made important contributions to the formation of the company’s digital organization, where he played a leading role in establishing processes and structure to ensure that the work across the organization could scale—including how to extend digital aspects to the wealth management business. Part of Ochoa’s work has also involved creating cross-functional teams to identify value-add for the client experience.

Further, Ochoa impacts the culture at BNY Mellon by championing diversity and inclusion. As a leader of BNY Mellon’s multi-cultural employee/business research group (3,000+ members), he has helped the company build relationships with diverse talent organizations such as The Alumni Society and the Hispanic IT Executive Council (HITEC). Outside of the office, he’s an active leader of the Stanford Latino Alumni Association.

 

Matt Hanna, Portfolio Manager and Managing Director of ESg Investing, Summit Global Investments

Education: University of Florida (B.A.), Political Science, 2006,

Mentors: Jim Hanna, Owner, Century Awnings

It didn’t take long for Matt Hanna to realize he wasn’t going to go to law school. “It’s not like how it looks on Law and Order,” he explains.  A self-professed “math guy,” Hanna took a job at Raymond James Financial in St. Petersburg, Florida right after graduation. While working there he went to night school at the University of Tampa to get his M.S. in finance.

In 2009, he was promoted into a more asset management role, doing mutual fund research, asset allocation and risk management for Raymond James’ Turnkey Asset Allocation program. Hanna had his challenges during that time including a new baby on the way, going through graduate school and a hearing deficit he had been experiencing for some time. “I didn’t think much of it, I just wanted to succeed,” he says.

Summit Global Investments is one of the firms that would come to visit Raymond James, which is how Hanna go to know them. When they posted an opening for a portfolio manager, Hanna took a chance and 10 years after Raymond James, he moved to SGI. Matt has been a critical component in both the quantitative and fundamental aspects of the firm’s equity mutual funds. In addition, he has been able to develop a process for its multi asset class and tactical strategies, while also working on business development strategy.

At SGI he created the 2019 SGI Environmental Social Governance Report, which details the ESG process for SGI within investment management, shareholder engagement, and its corporate culture. In addition, Hanna is a critical portfolio manager in all three of SGI’s current mutual funds (SILVX, SGLIX, SCLVX). As a lead quantitative portfolio manager he has incorporated innovative methodologies in all three funds. Hanna led the SGI team in creating tactical strategies based upon a multitude of differentiated, independent, yet interconnected trading signals.

While achieving these milestones, Hanna was able to become a CFA Charterholder, Certified FRM, and CAIA Charterholder.

Hanna is working on getting another graduate degree in applied economics.

 

Michel Levy, Chief Operating Officer, Equitable

Education: University of Maryland College Park (B.Sc.), 2001, Finance and General Business

Michal Levy managed to be a part of the investment management community even before she graduated. In 2000 she worked as a summer intern at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter researching stocks, analyzing Morningstar reports and portfolios as well as working closely with brokers and the senior vice-president to earn about their daily routines.

Following her graduation in 2001, Levy took a job with Putnam Investments as a performance analyst, which allowed her to analyze, measure and interpret the investment performance of Putnam’s mutual funds. While there she also reviewed reports for accuracy and reasonability and performed ad-hoc reporting analyses for institutional and international clients.

Levy spent the next seven years both as an associate and then vice-president, portfolio valuation with Duff & Phelps. Much of her work related to providing financial and accounting due diligence to private equity and strategic clients. Also, as vice-president, she provided valuation advisory services to alternative asset managers related to private loans, preferred and common equity, derivative securities and limited partnership interests.

For the last eight years, Levy has worked with Equitable Investment Management Group starting as Assistant Vice-President of Corporate Strategy and Business Development, then Chief of Staff, HR Measurement and Research, Senior Director Funds Management Group and finally onto her current role as Lead Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Funds Management Group.

She is responsible for setting and driving the strategic direction of the group, overseeing the implementation of fund launches, mergers, and restructurings; establishing fund pricing and profitability; developing project and departmental budgets; and leading board communications.

Michal was recently named the President of the 1290 Funds Trust, a retail mutual fund complex launched in November 2014, which she has served as commercial business leader since inception.

Part of what stands out at her time with Equitable is the launching of a full fund suite of 18 funds, expanding the distribution footprint, designing and implementing a variable compensation program for the wholesaling team, and developing and implementing branding/key messaging and data analytics initiatives.

 

Steven Levine, Senior Associate, K&L Gates

Education: Tulane University (B.A.), Philosophy and Political Economy, 2008, Brooklyn Law School (J.D.), 2013

Mentors: Joe Chioffi, attorney

Before even entering or entertaining law school, Steven Levine went to work as a paralegal at The Dreyfus Corporation following his undergraduate degree. Commuting in from Westchester, the prospect of working in the iconic Met Life Building in New York, also made the job an attractive one for Levine.

At Dreyfus, Levine had been studying for the LSAT and had an eye on law school, especially as his father was also an attorney. Because of the financial crisis of 2008, however, Levine thought it better to stay in his job for the time being. “I remember walking across the street and seeing the Lehman Brothers marquee changing over to Bear Stearns. I saw people walking out with boxes and here I was just out of college with a salary, health insurance and decided I would not leave this job to go to law school.” Instead he went to law school at night while keeping his job.

A lot of late nights allowed Levine to complete law school with only an extra semester added on. He had also left Dreyfus to join Fred Alger Management to give him broader exposure to various fund groups and matters related to the organization.

“I knew I always wanted to go to a law firm and I was not a summer associate so I reached out to various firms for opportunity once I graduated and it was an attorney who was my outside counsel who connected me to K&L Gates.”

He started there in 2014 and because he had been living and breathing mutual fund law, Levine was able to hit the ground running.

He represents a wide array of the firm’s investment company clients, with particular knowledge and expertise in all aspects of fund offering disclosures, credit line and securities lending matters.

Currently, with Covid-19 affecting the economy, Levine says work has been even busier. Besides his regular activities he is now working on related disclosure activity.

Levine is also working on closed-end funds, particularly some of the battles underway with activist shareholders targeting the space.

Outside of work Levine and his wife are involved are various charities including Miriam’s Kitchen in Washington, D.C.

 

Tom Staudt, Chief Operating Officer, ARK Invest

Education: University of Notre Dame (Bachelor of Business Administration), Finance and Economics, 2010, Michigan State University, (M.A.) Telecommunications Policy, 2012, Newhouse School at Syracuse University (M.Sc.), New Media Management, 2013, Cornell University, (M.B.A.), 2014

Mentors: Steve Masiclat, Director New Media Management, Newhouse School, Tim Staudt, Sports Broadcaster, Catherine Wood, CEO/CIO, ARK Invest

Tom Staudt has media blood flowing through his veins. His father is the longest serving broadcaster in Michigan’s history. With that upbringing near East Lansing he had aspirations of working in financial services but with a mind towards media and communications. As a result, after graduation, he worked in TV selling advertising for WILX in Michigan, which paid for him to go to Michigan State University where he received an M.A. in telecommunication studies and media.

In order to further gain connections and learn more about the media, he continued his education receiving a Masters of Science in new media and eventually an M.B.A. at Cornell University. “It was never my plan to get three more degrees but it was always reacting to the opportunities that presented themselves in those circumstances,” notes Staudt.

It was a fateful introduction that helped Staudt land his job at ARK Invest. He joined shortly after the firm was founded in 2014. After having served as associate operating officer and head of the development team he was named the firm’s Chief Operating Officer in September of 2016 at the age of 29. In his early days at ARK, Tom was responsible for helping to build and launch one of the market’s first and, at that time, only actively managed equity suite of ETFs. “I was working to set up the custodial accounts, trading accounts, brokers and traders,” he explains.

As with many start ups, Staudt says he moved from doing a bit of everything to honing in on one or two areas. He also played a pivotal role in helping the firm complete two strategic partnerships, with Resolute Investment Managers (American Beacon Funds) and Nikko Asset Management of Japan that provided the firm with global distribution capabilities. “By leveraging the American Beacon sales force, ARK got a sales force for the firs time,” says Staudt. “It was a pivotal moment because we really needed a sales and distribution force.”

“We also launched M&A activity by forging a strategic partnership with Nikko along with American Beacon, with the plan to provide distribution outside of North America.”

What started as a firm with $300m in assets under management has grown to over $11bn, and moved from a simpler focus on a small number of ETFs to growing out a broad product range.

Staudt explains that working at a start-up has been “a kind of hobby” but he is also an avid sports fan and hopes to visit all the national parks with his wife.

 

Vadim Avdeychik, Of Counsel Investment Management Practice, Paul Hastings

Education: Saint John’s University (B.A.) English and Philosophy, 2004, Hofstra University School of Law, (J.D.), 2007, Georgetown University Law Center (L.L.M.), 2010

Mentors: Barry Barbash, Senior Counsel, Willkie Farr & Gallagher

Vadim Avdeychik was 10 years old when he immigrated to the United States from Ukraine.

Following his studies in English and philosophy he got a taste for financial services working in a Long Island brokerage firm right out of college.

Prior to joining Paul Hastings, Avdeychik was the Vice President and Counsel at Pimco and Assistant Secretary to the PIMCO-managed closed-end funds. Formerly, he was an associate at an international law firm and prior to that, ERISA Enforcement Advisor with the Employee Benefits Security Administration.

“After my time at Pimco I wanted to get back to a law firm because I enjoyed the financial aspects of the law,” he says.

At Paul Hastings Avdeychik helps counsel mutual funds, closed-end funds, ETFs, business development companies, hedge funds, and their investment advisers. He often advises on the formation and operation of registered investment companies (including those implementing alternative investment strategies), alternative fund structures, fund governance, regulatory issues involving public and private funds, and investment company status issues.

Avdeychik also has experience and works assisting pre-IPO and public operating companies, specialty finance companies, investment banks, financial product sponsors, and other entities in determining their investment company status or the status of the products they sponsor.

Over the last year, Avdeychik has published numerous articles on various topics related to mutual funds and asset management industry. For example, in 2019 he published an article titled Responsible Investing: Legal and Compliance Considerations for Asset Managers in the Review of Securities & Commodities Regulation

Avdeychik also stays involved in the New York City Bar Association, specifically in their Investment Management Committee. He also helps on the Impact Investment and Fintech Committees.

 

Wu-Kwan Kit, Senior Vice-President, Senior Counsel, Pimco

Education: University of Pennsylvania, (B.A.), 2002, University of Pennsylvania Law (J.D.), 2007

Mentors: David Sullivan, Partner, Nathan Briggs, Partner, Ropes & Gray

“The beauty of going to Penn is that it allows students a lot of flexibility,” says Wu-Kwan Kit, who majored in Biological Basis of Behavior and French with a minor in Healthcare Management before she entered law school. The French comes from an interest in languages and having grown up in Canada, while the behavioral classes were simply out of interest.

In between undergrad and law school Kit worked as a paralegal for Hughes Hubbard & Reed. It was there that she was bitten by the law school bug and found corporate law more interesting than litigation.

But her law career began in New York at Schulte Roth & Zabel focusing on hedge funds and private equity funds, and not in the registered products division.

After three and a half years there she moved to VanEck Global as an in-house legal. She started there on hedge fund work but morphed to their ETF and mutual fund side, which is when she began learning more about 40 Act products.

In the spring of 2016, Kit moved to California and took a job at Pimco where she has been ever since. When she started the idea was to work on ‘40 Act funds. However, when she arrived one of the attorneys had given notice, which allowed her to focus on closed-end funds more than she had in the past. “Being the new person, I was the lucky recipient of the closed-end work,” she notes. “But it’s been really great. It was a new area for me and it was a really good learning experience.”

Kit also does a lot of work behind the scenes dealing with rule-making and regulatory issues that come down from the SEC. Part of that involves working with industry groups, looking at rule proposals and considering comments. In the event of new rules, she works with operational and other teams for implementation.

Kit has been instrumental on a new type of closed-end fund structure as well as launching Pimco’s first two interval funds. “They are not too common in the closed-end world and so it has been a new process and very interesting for me,” she adds.

Kit has also led projects relating to preferred share offerings, tender offers and other complex closed-end fund transactions and initiatives. She also has represented Pimco in a variety of issues taken up by the ICI and the SEC.

As a Penn alumnus, Kit says she is still involved in interviewing candidates/students, although it is an informal role.

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