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By Russel Kinnel | 08-25-2017 10:00 AM

Collaborative Process Key for Thornburg

Thornburg CEO Jason Brady says his team is able to focus on the business in Santa Fe and provide clients with a differentiated process.

Russ Kinnel: Hi, I'm Russ Kinnel, director of manager research for Morningstar. Today I am joined via satellite by Jason Brady, who is coming in from Thornburg's office in Santa Fe. Jason is CEO of Thornburg and has been since January 2016.

Jason, why don’t we start with the big picture. What have you focused on since becoming CEO?

Jason Brady: So, the big thing for us at Thornburg is getting our customers to understand our investment process. We feel like we have a sustainable competitive advantage there, and it's very important that folks who invest with us, who trust us with their money really see how that investment process is working. So long term, collaborative, with a broad perspective--those are things that really drive our results over time.

Kinnel: Can you elaborate a little more about what it is about investment process that you feel is your competitive advantage?

Brady: Sure. We have a number of folks sitting here in Santa Fe--actually all of our investment professionals are here in Santa Fe--and when we have folks from disparate disciplines or look at disparate parts of the market place come together they really, something, frankly, quite wonderful happens, which is sharing of information and that team-based, collaborative approach gives you a much broader understanding of what's going on in the marketplace. As head of fixed income I've had long conversations, traveled with folks who run our international equity portfolios, and I think in a lot of places that kind of relationship would really never develop. So that drives our broad mandates and really drives our broad understanding of the universe, it truly gives us a good sense of risk and reward across a number of different asset classes where we have been successful.

Kinnel: Well, you have kind of already answered my next question a bit, but I want to give you a chance to answer the obvious one that everyone is asked these days is, what about the threat of passive. How do you justify, make your case, when so many people are shifting to passive investments these days?

Brady: Sure. Passive clearly has a place in the marketplace. If folks really need a very particular exposure--it used to be 15 years ago firms like ourselves could just say OK, well if you need to access say emerging markets or broadly defined bonds or municipal bonds etc. you need to find somebody to do that for you. Today with number of passive options folks can just access those asset classes themselves. So it's critical that we differentiate ourselves, certainly with outcomes for our clients, but also with our process. If you want a different outcome, a differentiated portfolio, you are going to have to do that, it's with a differentiated process. I think that’s what we offer. Again, the results have been excellent over time, but its really, hey, what are we doing differently such that if you want that difference, if you want a different exposure, here's how we provide it for you.

Kinnel: I wanted to follow up also with asking about doing business in Santa Fe. Obviously, most fund companies are centered in some of the biggest cities in the U.S. or outside the U.S. What are the challenges and opportunities of being in a place like Santa Fe?

Brady: I spent about a decade being fortunate enough to build a team here in Santa Fe around fixed income before I became CEO. And certainly, there are folks who really want to be in, say, New York or London etc. But actually, I think over time most folks are looking to concentrate on their craft, and Santa Fe really gives you an opportunity to do that. It really has given me the opportunity to build a team and now continue to build our company. I am more likely to be woken up at night by coyotes howling than anything else, and my commute went from over an hour when I lived in Boston to about 8 minutes with three stop signs. So you really get a chance to focus on the business and focus on the issues at hand, and frankly, communicate across the team and so those things are definitely positives.

Kinnel: Well, thanks Jason for joining us.

Brady: It's been my pleasure. Again, thanks so much Russ.

Kinnel: From Morningstar, I'm Russ Kinnel.

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