JAMES A. NORUNGOLO
US BANK WEALTH MANAGEMENT
VICE PRESIDENT, RESEARCH AND DUE DILIGENCE
What’s top of your to-do list right now?
Completing the onboarding and introduction of a fairly complex alternative beta strategy.
What is keeping you awake at night (work wise)?
Incredibly compressed risk premia. Late-cycle reaches for yield and return-chasing seldom end well, or gently.
Where are you seeing client demand?
In my areas of coverage we've been having discussions around the relative value of bank loans compared with high yield debentures, as well as equity managers with relatively high margins of safety and a demonstrated ability to protect well during market corrections.
Best meeting you’ve ever had?
The best meetings are when you can get a real sense of the cohesiveness of a team, a sense of a truly shared set of values and investing tenets. We hired a small equity boutique last year that runs a single, concentrated large-cap core strategy. Both in our final interview in Minneapolis and during my on-site visit, you could see these were humble investors, people who genuinely like one another, with strong conviction in their philosophy and process.
Worst meeting you’ve ever had?
We interviewed a manager for an international equity mandate a couple years ago. They had a strong track record and were undeniably talented. However, despite us attacking the question from multiple angles over three hours, they were simply unable to articulate a process. I find it impossible to recommend a strategy if I have nothing more to rely on than one person's gut instinct.
If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?
I would have a flat in Lisbon or Porto, and I'd be running a blog that combines my love for travel and photography.
What are your interests outside of work?
I'm an avid supporter of Arsenal Football Club and Minnesota United FC, and I’m active in the supporters’ groups for those two sides. I play soccer regularly, as well as cycling and skiing. I've hiked almost 300 miles in Ireland and on the Appalachian Trail over the past three years, and I go to
see indie rock shows at our local clubs as often as possible.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I'm checking two items off my bucket list later this month when I go to Copenhagen and then Reykjavik. New Zealand and Chile are high on my list for the next adventure.
If we gave you $100,000, how would you invest it?
I would keep about 25% in cash and short high quality fixed income given the current valuations out there. I would put 15-20% in diversified emerging markets equities, as global synchronized growth and a benign outlook for the dollar, coupled with reasonable valuations and good fiscal positions in many sovereigns, make both select emerging equities and shorter duration emerging market debt look like good relative value propositions. Shorter duration EM debt would get 5-10%, and I would split the remainder between durable, high quality US Large Cap and EAFE Small Cap.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Photography, creative writing and building an amazing mixtape. And I can still deliver a sweet cross onto a a forward's head to land a goal on Sunday mornings.