After the global economic collapse, Nili Gilbert ’03 saw a need for a financial-services firm that would prioritize consistent growth and stability over big-ticket trends and volatility — and return honesty and integrity to investing. So the former Invesco analyst co-founded Matarin Capital Management, which in six short years has won many awards — including PSN Top Gun honors for excellent investment returns and top-performer recognition from eVestment. And, as one of the few majority-women-owned firms of its kind, Matarin serves as a beacon for diversity in finance.
Here, she discusses her business — and the industry — in her own words.
Building a Model for Generations
The world doesn’t need just another asset-management firm. We perceived a need to deepen the ties of trust between the asset-management industry and the clients it serves. We felt it would be meaningful to build something that would last generations, even beyond the lifetimes of the founders. We wanted to imbue our firm with our values — our motto is “Investing with insight and integrity” — so that we are able to project them into the industry and thereby support them in the world.
A Personal Investment
The bulk of our assets are from public pension funds. A lot of our end beneficiaries are teachers, firefighters, police officers, city workers, judges — people who have been in service their whole lives. We’re very conscious of the fact that the work we’re doing every day is to ensure their retirement futures.
Focusing on the Human Element
At Columbia, I designed an independent study with Professor Ray Horton that focused on how to value intangible goods, particularly social goods. Fast-forward to today at Matarin: our investment style focuses on understanding the relationship between the human decision-making process and the underlying economic or business fundamentals that drive asset prices.
A Spotlight on Diversity
There are too few women in finance and even fewer who are portfolio managers and owners of their own firms. When you drill down further and look at African American women, the numbers are very, very low. So while I don’t necessarily wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and say that I’m a pioneer, when I look at the data, I know, unfortunately, that I am. At Matarin, we value having diverse perspectives because we think it’s the best way to support great decision making. We also think it’s important that young women and people of color have models for what a successful career in this industry can look like. For this reason, we are also willing to be out there and be visible in the community.