MARKET COMMENTARY

Five Questions with Kate Huntington

09.23.2020 - Kate Huntington

We recently sat down with Kate Huntington, Head of Advisory Solutions Group, to learn a bit more about her background. Kate joined Fiduciary Trust Company International as part of the firm’s acquisition of Athena Capital Advisors, LLC in March 2020.

1. As a senior member of the Investment Management Team, what do you find particularly interesting about building portfolios for clients?

Each building block within a client’s portfolio serves a unique purpose.  What I find interesting is evaluating potential new blocks, not just on a standalone basis, but within an existing portfolio.  For example, our research team identifies private equity opportunities that work best in combination as a diversified yet growth-oriented solution.  Assessing these investments allows me to combine quantitative and qualitative analysis which I find especially appealing.

We also incorporate sustainable investments into client portfolios. Sustainable investing is increasingly appealing to our clients and brings another layer of considerations when choosing investments. The term often serves as a catch-all for everything between traditional investments and philanthropy, but at its core it’s about integrating client values into their portfolios.  These guide us towards opportunities that meet financial objectives and environmental, social and/or governance goals.  Having been involved in sustainable investing for more than 13 years, it’s particularly exciting to see the positive momentum growing in this space.

2. How did you decide to pursue the career you are in today?

After graduating from the University of Virginia as an economics and psychology major, I went in a few different directions. This included working at a real estate advisory firm and an economic consultancy.  While each experience taught me new skills, it soon became obvious that I didn’t want to focus solely on real estate or become an economist.

However, I was drawn to investing and decided to go back to school to learn more about it.  The graduate business program at Yale really opened my eyes to alternative investments. One of the most intriguing classes focused on private equity. The professor often brought in outside managers who pitched their investment ideas to the students. We had to determine if an opportunity was worthy of an investment or not, weighing their abilities, process and potential risk-adjusted returns.  It was an amazingly insightful experience which actually formed the foundation of what would become my career. 

3. Is there a piece of advice you’ve received that you still rely on?

Two words: be authentic. It was part of Athena’s core values and something that’s always stuck with me. 

Authenticity is such an important quality for investment professionals. It’s key to building trust in relationships. As a manager, it is critical to be straightforward with colleagues.  They need actionable, transparent feedback that they can rely on.  Clients expect clear, insightful advice, without a lot of jargon.  Competence in your subject matter, balanced with understanding their needs, helps deliver an authentic approach.

Also, financial services has been a male-dominated industry for a long time. That may make some women less likely to show their real personalities. But I have found the most influential and successful leaders, both men and women, to be those that display their true, authentic selves.

4. What is the hardest part of your current role?

To be honest, my biggest challenge, as well as opportunity, is that my role changed this year. Since Athena’s merger with Fiduciary Trust, my responsibilities have expanded to leading several teams as well as co-leading the integration. I’ve become a manager of managers, so to speak. This requires a different skill set than leading a single team. 

At times I find myself drinking from the proverbial firehose. But it’s been a very fulfilling experience for me, as I have been gaining a more holistic view of our clients’ needs and our offerings. That dynamic allows me to constantly learn more about how to best serve clients and support my team.

5. What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Hands down, it’s working alongside the people here at the firm. I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by smart, collaborative professionals. The unique strengths that each brings to the table, along with a common respect for each other’s views, are part of our daily conversations.

A key point to stress is that every team member offers their own perspective, which is a true advantage for clients. We encourage debate and differing points of view when evaluating investments. In the end, we have been able to make better decisions by valuing this diversity of thought.


 

The information provided is intended solely to provide general information. The information and opinions stated may change without notice. The information and opinions do not represent a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any market, industry, sector or security. Statements of fact have been obtained from sources deemed reliable, but no representation is made as to their completeness or accuracy. The opinions expressed are not intended as individual investment, tax or estate planning advice or as a recommendation of any particular security, strategy, or investment product. Please consult your personal advisor to determine whether this information may be appropriate for you. This information is provided solely for insight into our general management philosophy and process. Historical performance does not guarantee future results and results may differ over future time periods.

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