Kathryn Kaminski (Chief Research Strategist, AlphaSimplex Group) received a “Top Women in Asset Management Award” from Money Management Executive in April 2019. She is only one of ten to receive the honor.

Every year, Money Management Executive recognizes women who are making significant contributions in asset management. Many in this year’s group – including co-founders, managing directors, presidents and chief operating officers – have a lot to say about how women have advanced in the industry over the years. To select the winners, Money Market Executive used a nomination process that sought industry participation. Editors then reviewed candidate qualifications in order to select the final ten choices. There has been a keen focus on diversity in the asset management space over the past several years – and for good reason. There is still a striking underrepresentation of women in all corners of the industry. Just 9.9% of firms managing mutual funds are women-owned, according to a report by the Knight Foundation. The disparity in hedge funds is even starker, per the study, with just 4.6% of firms led by women managing only 1.5% of industry assets.

Kaminski, whose mother was a financial planner, knew early on that “finance was never just for guys.” When Kaminski pursued a Ph.D. in operations research at the MIT Sloan School of Management, she joined the Laboratory for Financial Engineering to study the behavior of financial markets. “I was so interested in the practical aspects of investing, I left academia and went into asset management,” says Kaminski, who now applies her background in academic research to solve the looming questions of the private sector.

As chief research strategist and portfolio manager at AlphaSimplex Group, Kaminski is involved in the oversight of $6 billion in investment products, the research and construction of portfolios, and the implementation of risk management strategies. She also serves as one of six portfolio managers on the $4.5 billion managed futures program, the firm’s largest portfolio. Kaminski oversees a 15-person team, and is involved in the decision-making process for all AlphaSimplex investment research, which sets out, she says, “to best solve problems that are unsolvable.” She says she enjoys breaking down the relatively complex field of quant trading. “When passionate about a subject, or when asked a hard question,” Kaminski says, she will explore the idea in writing. She co-authored a book on trend following in 2014, and has published over 40 articles on quant investing, the first of which coined the term “crisis alpha”.

Kaminski mentors young students about asset management while adjunct teaching at MIT. “I tell them about the exciting things happening in asset management, and how to succeed in the business,” she says, noting that her advice resonates particularly with young women. “Having a female asset manager as a professor sends the message that there’s not just one face for the industry.”

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