Author: Maha Khan Phillips
Omar Kodmani, CFA, is Senior Executive Officer and Global Head of International Business Development at EnTrustPermal. He was appointed chief executive of Permal Group in 2014, having previously been its president.
PI: If you could change one thing about the investment industry, what would it be?
Kodmani: Investment products and services should be more consumer-friendly. At the moment, the industry faces the same negative perceptions as banking and financial services in general: lots of jargon, high fees, high complexity, difficult to access quality products. A disruptor is needed from outside the sector to make this change.
PI: What is the most important trend in asset management at the moment?
Kodmani: Take your pick: passive, ESG, quant., private markets. My pick is that a new exogenous shock is needed to be a “great leveller” and remind the world that fundamental active strategies matter.
PI: What advice would you give people starting out in the investment profession?
Kodmani: Nothing sets you up like the CFA and do not commit to areas you do not understand (e.g. crypto).
PI: How is technology changing your business?
Kodmani: As a tool, technology should help make investment decisions and improve the client experience. Although there is an arms race in technology spending, it is not an end in itself.
PI: You’ve had a stellar career. Looking back, what has been the highlights for you?
Kodmani: Serving clients, developing great relationships internally and externally, working in diverse cultures and geographies and dealing with surprises (good and bad, macro and micro).
PI: Is there anything that investment professionals could add to their skill-set that would really add value to clients?
Kodmani: More tech-training for enhancing productivity and more ethics and diversity training to enhance global relevance and professionalism
PI: If you weren’t in the investment business, what would you be doing?
Kodmani: Something in music
PI: There’s been a lot of change in the hedge fund industry, and particularly the fund of hedge fund industry. How can it ensure it remains relevant?
Kodmani: Hedge funds need to perform; it is not enough to just blame the environment. Portfolios of hedge funds (fund of funds is a challenged label) need to deliver the right outcomes at the right (overall) price. Relevance can be regained quickly when these things happen. The industry will remain part of the landscape.
PI: What about fee pressure?
Kodmani: Fee pressure is everywhere. Differentiated investment results are hard to find. Fee transparency is a good trend but a “cheapest is best” approach is misguided.
PI: What’s one thing we don’t already know about you?
Kodmani: I thought being a DJ on the side was cool until…