While she was an undergraduate at Oxford University, Michelle Clayman was surrounded by the chaos that was England’s financial crisis at the time. Spurred by the desire to understand what was happening, she embarked on a career that now provides answers for the socially responsible investing arena and the area of women’s issues as well.
(Clayman is one of AdvisorOne’s 50 Top Women in Wealth for 2011.)
Clayman, the founder, managing partner and CIO of New York-based New Amsterdam Partners, an institutional money management firm, is Oxford-educated, but turned to the U.S. to further her career after a two-year stint at Bank of America in London because there were fewer barriers to advancement.
She received her MBA at Stanford, then followed that with a stint at Salomon Bros. that got her started in quantitative research. When she founded her own firm a few years later, quantitative research would pave the way for socially responsible investing, now termed ESG (for environmental, social and governance issues).
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“What’s interesting,” Clayman (left) says, “is that sustainability factors can actually be part of a company’s growth story. We manage unconstrained portfolios and SRI/ESG portfolios, and ESG does as well, if not slightly better, than unconstrained. The conventional wisdom around SRI is the Milton Friedman line, that it could only detract from returns. Now more than a third of our business is ESG and that’s what we find of the most interest.”
Also of interest is research into the resolution of women’s issues. Clayman, who supports Stanford’s now-named-for-her Clayman Institute for Gender Research, says that its studies of women’s issues became one of her causes after she attended a breakfast put on by the institute in 1993.