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UBS Global Family Office Report 2024: balance is back

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UBS has released its Global Family Office Report 2024, with data from 320 family offices in seven regions around the world. The report, which represents families with an average net worth of $2.6 billion and covers more than $600 billion of wealth, confirms that it is the most comprehensive and authoritative analysis of this influential group of investors.

Among the most notable findings is that portfolios shifted to more balanced allocations, with the largest weighting in developed market fixed income in five years. In addition, confidence in active management as a means of portfolio diversification increased, while artificial intelligence (AI) leads investment themes. On the other hand, alternative investments continue to form a significant part of portfolios, providing an additional source of diversification and return. What family offices are most concerned about, in the medium term, is the danger of a major geopolitical conflict, climate change and high levels of debt.

“Our 2024 report shows that family offices followed through on the plans for material shifts in strategic asset allocation foreseen in 2023’s report. By increasing weightings in developed market fixed income, they reintroduced greater balance between bonds and equities,” said George Athanasopoulos, Head of Global Family and Institutional Wealth, Co-Head of Global Markets at UBS.

Benjamin Cavalli, Head of Global Wealth Management Strategic Clients at UBS, highlighted: “The enlarged and globally comprehensive dataset allowed us to deepen our analysis and gain insights on how family offices’ operating businesses impacted their asset allocation. This enables us to provide them with tailored findings and advice.”

Allocations shift to more balanced portfolios, geographical tilt towards North America

The 2024 survey showed that family office portfolios moved back to a greater balance between bonds and equities. Possibly adjusting for a world of moderating inflation and declining policy rates, this change appears to reflect elevated bond yields, and it is consistent with the moves foreshadowed by last year’s report.

On average, family offices have kept their largest regional allocations in North America (50%), over a quarter (27%) in Western Europe, and 17% in either Asia-Pacific or Greater China. Looking ahead, North America and Asia-Pacific (excluding Greater China) are set to be the top destinations of added allocations, with over a third looking to increase allocations to each of these regions over the next five years (38% and 35% respectively).

Diversifying through active management, as generative AI is the top ranking investment theme

Just as balanced portfolios appear to be back in favor, so too does active management. Amid rapid technological change, shifting rate expectations and uneven growth, the increased dispersion of returns

offers opportunities for active management. Almost four in 10 (39%) family offices globally state that they are currently relying more on manager selection and/or active management to enhance portfolio diversification, up 4% from 2023. On the alternative investment side, hedge funds are used by a third (33%) of family offices for diversification. From a thematic perspective, generative AI is the most popular investment theme, with more than three quarters (78%) of family offices stating it is likely to be an area of investment in the next two to three years.

Geopolitics and inflation lead short term concerns, over five years climate change and debt emerge as top concerns

While economies appear to be stabilizing, geopolitics emerges as the top concern for family offices, followed by climate change in the medium term. Over 12 months, 58% are worried about the possibility of a major geopolitical conflict. There also appear to be concerns that central banks may only be able to cut interest rates slowly, with 37% of family offices stating they have concerns about higher interest rates and 39% about higher inflation. When asked to look further forward over five years, longer-term worries come into sharper focus. While geopolitical conflict remains the top concern (62%), almost half (49%) are worried about climate change and nearly as many (48%) are concerned about a debt crisis at a time when Western countries are burdened by high levels of public debt that might appear unsustainable.

As focus on sustainability increases, family offices seek greater sophistication

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important topic affecting not just family offices’ investment portfolios, but also the long-term outlook of operating businesses. More than half (57%) of family offices with an operating business are either taking sustainability considerations into account already for their operating businesses or plan to do so in the future. As the topic of sustainability matures, family offices need more information and advice. Better data analytics to measure the impact of investments and/or business operations would help in achieving sustainability and/or impact goals, according to 37% of respondents.

Regional findings:

U.S.

US family offices have the lowest (7%) allocations to fixed income, on average, with 59% of those holding fixed income saying they do so to benefit from high yields. Their portfolios have the highest tilt allocated towards North America (82%) and just 8% towards Western Europe on average. In the US, high-quality short duration fixed income is the most popular means of diversification (47%). 83% of US family offices state they are likely to invest in AI. In the next 12 months, the top concern among US family offices is a major geopolitical conflict (57%). Over the next five years, US family offices are most concerned about higher taxes (73%).

Latin America

Compared to their global peers, Latin American family offices have the highest allocations, on average, to fixed income (27% in developed market bonds, 7% in emerging market bonds). Those that hold fixed income investments mainly do so to preserve capital (63%), help balance risk (58%) and benefit from the high yields (54%). The cash holdings are the lowest, on average, in Latin America (5%). In the next 12 months, the top concern is inflation (60%), while over the next five years, it is climate change (48%) and technological disruptions affecting their operating business and/or investments (48%).

South-East Asia

Among southeastern Asian family offices, 88% believe we will have positive real interest rates for longer. They rely more on manager selection and/or active management to diversify (50%). Compared to their global peers, allocations to real estate are the lowest (6%), on average. A major geopolitical conflict and higher inflation are top concerns (55% each) in the next 12 months, while over the next five years they are higher taxes (59%) and climate change (56%).

North Asia

North Asian family offices have, on average, high cash holdings (14%) and the highest allocations (24%) to Greater China of all the regions. In comparison to their global peers, the likelihood to invest in AI over the next two to three years is the highest (89%). They prefer high-quality short duration fixed income to enhance portfolio diversification (45%). Over 12 months and in the next five years, North Asian family offices are most concerned about a major geopolitical conflict (56% and 70% respectively).

Europe ex. Switzerland

Among European family offices, 38% believe that US real interest rates will fluctuate around zero. Compared to their global peers, the share of family offices planning to make changes to their strategic asset allocation in 2024 is the highest in Europe (42%) and, on average, there is a strong home bias to allocating their portfolios to Western Europe (49%). Compared to their global peers, the share of family offices being covered against financial risks is highest in Europe (67%). Currently and over the next five years, European family offices are most concerned about a major geopolitical conflict (61% and 71% respectively).

Switzerland

Also 38% of Swiss family offices believe that US real interest rates will fluctuate around zero. Compared to their global peers, they have the highest allocations, on average, to equities (29% developed market, 2% emerging market) and only 11% are planning to change their strategic asset allocation in 2024. Swiss family offices have a strong home bias, allocating on average 54% of their portfolios to Western Europe and use precious metals to enhance their portfolio diversification (34%). 76% of Swiss family offices are likely to invest in healthtech in the next two to three years. Over 12 months and in the next five years, Swiss family offices are most concerned about a major geopolitical conflict (62% and 71% respectively).

Middle-East

Compared to their global peers, Middle Eastern family offices have, on average, the highest allocations to real estate (15%) and use high-quality short duration fixed income to enhance portfolio diversification less than their global peers (10%). In the next 12 months they are most concerned about a major geopolitical conflict (68%) and over the next five years they are most worried about a financial market crisis (57%).

KKR Provides $300 Million Corporate Credit Facility to Origis Energy

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KKR and Origis Energy (“Origis”), a renewable energy and decarbonization solution platform, announced that vehicles and accounts managed by KKR’s insurance business have provided a $300 million corporate financing facility to Origis.

Proceeds from the facility will support the continued development and construction of Origis’ pipeline of solar and storage projects.

S&P Global Commodity Insights recently ranked Origis third on its list of ten largest owners of planned solar installations through 2028. Since inception, Origis has developed more than 250 solar and storage projects. In the U.S., the company’s current operating, contracted and mature development project portfolio stands at more than 12 gigawatts (GW), with an additional 13 GW in the pipeline.

“We are on a remarkable trajectory at Origis and focused on delivering for our customers. We are pleased to be working with KKR in this next phase of our growth,” said Vikas Anand, CEO of Origis.

“Demand for renewable energy financing is stronger than ever and we are pleased to support Origis Energy, one of the leading developers in this space,” said Sam Mencoff, Director at KKR.

This investment aligns with KKR’s Asset-Based Finance (ABF) strategy, which focuses on privately originated and negotiated credit investments that are backed by large and diversified pools of financial and hard assets, offering diversification to traditional corporate credit and attractive risk-adjusted returns.

KKR’s ABF platform began investing in 2016 and now has approximately $54 billion in ABF assets under management globally across its High-Grade ABF and Opportunistic ABF strategies.

Three reasons for continued market optimism

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After a 6% drop in the S&P 500 in April, it took only 33 days for the index to set a new all-time high. Despite fears of stagflation, iCapital’s experts say there are more positives than negatives in this environment and estimate three reasons why we should increase equity exposure, especially if it is underweight relative to strategic allocations.

Reason 1: April’s inflation report should support market spirits

Despite the sticky inflation prints to start the year, iCapital believes April’s inflation reading should support market spirits as it confirms that, with a 3.6% year-over-year (YoY) core CPI and 2.8% YoY core PCE, we are squarely in the “last mile” of fighting inflation. While recent readings may warrant a Fed on hold, they certainly do not warrant a hike – as Chair Powell has stated in recent speeches. With goods disinflation, the two remaining drivers of inflation are shelter (5.5% YoY) and car insurance (+22% YoY). However, the direction of shelter inflation is still lower, as it continues to ease on a month-over-month (MoM) and YoY basis.

The Federal Reserve must also acknowledge that interest rates may influence the demand side of rate-sensitive sectors of the economy, but they do not control the supply. The reason why the last mile of inflation is sticky is that while the Fed’s policies helped reduce demand for housing (new/existing home sales) and demand for labor (JOLTS job openings), they cannot affect the supply side of the equation, which is limited by the number of housing units and the availability of labor. It will take time for the supply side to catch up, as new multi-family units come online and additional workers enter the labor force (most likely through migration).

While recent trends have been firmer than we, and the Fed, would have liked, inflation is now in the 2-3% range. This is a notable improvement from a year ago, when we were still in the 4-5% range. To us, this is a lack of “flation” in the stagflation narrative and, in fact, 2-3% inflation can help sustain pricing power of corporates and, therefore, earnings.

Reason 2: The fears of stagflation in our view seem overblown

With inflation in its last mile, growth has remained strong. Despite the weak headline GDP print, underneath the surface growth was quite strong. Indeed, private domestic final purchases, which capture services consumption and residential construction, rose a solid +3.1%, which is much stronger than the +1.6% headline GDP and in line with the last two quarters of consumption. This trend appears to have continued in the second quarter as the Atlanta Fed GDPNow remains around 4%.

Analysts also believe this level of activity should be supported by a resilient consumer. Even despite some of the weakness in retail sales, which looks primarily at goods spending, real-time spending data remains healthy and is running above 2022 and 2023 levels. Consumption should be further supported by healthy labor markets and real wage growth returning to positive territory for all income cohorts, a welcomed departure from the last two years.

Reason 3: Growth is also picking up globally

The strength of economic activity has not been limited to the U.S.; there has also been an improvement in global economic growth. Global GDP growth, as proxied by the Bloomberg Global Growth tracker, is running at a +4.3% annualized rate for the month of April. This is a stark improvement from the tracker’s +0.8% annualized rate in Oct 2023. In addition, iCapital have also seen economists revise their global growth forecast higher throughout the year. Indeed, forecasts for global growth have been revised higher by 30 bps to 2.90% for 2024.

Investment Implications: Returns worth staying for

After the swift recovery to all-time highs on the S&P 500, we see a path towards 5,500-5,600, especially as earnings continue to inflect higher and broaden throughout the year. With 80% of companies reporting earnings so far this quarter, earnings are coming in better than expected. Indeed, 77% of the companies are beating estimates with an earnings surprise of +7.5%, which is above the 10-year average. And with sticky prices, this should support nominal revenue growth.

Even as the Fed maintains rates at a “higher-for-longer” level, markets still perform well during periods of Fed pauses. Indeed, markets return an average of 9.2% during pause periods. And as long as growth remains strong, we see no reason why the current pause should be different.

Public Markets: Maintaining our cyclical bias

Within public markets, the experts continue to like the cyclical sectors: consumer discretionary, industrials, financials, and semiconductors. While the macro environment discussed above is broadly supportive of these sectors, strong earnings growth has also supported their performance so far this year. Indeed, consumer discretionary, information technology and industrials have all reported YoY earnings growth that has been better than the S&P 500. “We believe this trend should continue, as consumer discretionary, industrials and financials have some of the best earnings revisions ratios over the last three months”, the report said.

Private markets: Favorable growth and income opportunities

Looking at the opportunity set in private markets, iCapital continues to favor private equity, private credit and real estate debt asset classes.

In private equity, valuations are rebounding with public markets, but remain below public market valuations. The analysts continue to believe private equity is a way to access themes such as AI, as managers (GPs) are working to infuse AI improvements to drive value creation in their buyout businesses. With lack of IPO volumes, companies are once again staying private for longer. But, exit activity should continue to improve throughout the remainder of the year.

In private credit, floating rate coupons should remain higher with rates on hold for longer (10-12% income yields). This provides a nice pick-up in yields relative to leveraged loans and high yield. Over time, private credit has provided consistent returns through consistent income, low volatility, and prudent underwriting.

Finally, real estate debt, banks are definitely pulling back from CRE lending amidst the large wall of upcoming maturities. But CRE debt funds do have $77 billion in dry powder to help alleviate the funding gap. Investors can earn ~ 9% yields in CRE debt and benefit from a higher place in the capital structure and equity cushions.

Citi Appoints Mitali Sohoni as New Head of Markets in the U.S.

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Mitali Sohoni has been promoted to the new Head of U.S. Markets at Citi, industry sources reported on Monday.

Sohoni will maintain her current role as Head of Asset-Backed Financing in addition to her new position, according to the specialized media outlet The Trade.

The executive joined Citi in 2004, according to her LinkedIn profile.

During her tenure, she has overseen various business areas, including credit financing, asset-backed securities, clean energy, global infrastructure, the residential sector, Citi Community Capital, the municipal sector, and Citi’s Asset Financing Group.

Meanwhile, Dina Faenson was appointed CEO of Citigroup Global Markets (CGMI).

Faenson will report to Andy Morton, Head of Markets, and will maintain her current position as Head of Markets, Counterparty Trading, and Risk, reported Global Trading.

With over 18 years at Citi, Faenson has held positions of responsibility, including Head of Markets and Global Co-Head of Rates and Currencies for Valuation Adjustments.

Wealth Manager Consolidation Intensifies in Pursuit of Capturing Client Walletshare

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Consolidation continues to haunt the financial services universe, with no signs of stopping, and it is likely that the driving forces behind consolidation in the wealth management industry could affect the competitive environment, according to the Cerulli Wealth Manager Consolidation: Analyzing the Factors Behind a Ripe M&A Deal Environment.

An imperative to become bigger and more profitable has governed much of the heightened M&A activity that has been underway in the wealth management industry for more than a decade, resulting in an environment dominated by key players. According to Cerulli, the top-five wealth management firms control 57% of broker/dealer (B/D) assets under management (AUM) and 32% of B/D advisors, while the top-25 B/D firms and their various affiliates control 92% of AUM and 79% of advisors.

Wealth managers are increasingly focused on providing truly comprehensive wealth management, pursuing M&A to bolster capabilities and capture more of the value chain. While increasing client walletshare has been an elusive industry goal for decades, Cerulli observes a sizeable consolidation opportunity among affluent investors. According to the research, 57% of advised households would prefer to consolidate their financial assets to a single institution; however, just 32% use the same provider for cash management and investment services.

“In the wake of a merger or acquisition, firms rarely emerge as well-oiled machines providing best-in-class capabilities and service offerings,” says Bing Waldert, managing director. “Vertical integration of technology systems, migration of client accounts, and changes in workplace culture are all potential pain points when an organization restructures. As wealth management firms enter new segments through acquisition, they must have a plan to transition clients to service models that meet their needs.”

Now more than ever, due diligence is a step that must fully play out. “Deals that make sense on paper can prove to be cautionary tales when acquirers miscalculate the impact of melding operations,” says Waldert. “In a wealth management environment where advisors and assets are on the move more than ever before, there is increased potential that a deal may have negative ramifications for advisor retention,” he concludes.

Santander Names Javier Garcia Carranza as Head of Wealth and Insurance

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The Spanish press has described a “revolution” at Banco Santander this Wednesday. In any case, what the entity has announced constitutes a full-scale restructuring, with the merger of the Investment Platforms & Corporate Investments unit and the global Wealth Management & Insurance business.

Leading this new sector is one of Santander’s strongmen, Javier García Carranza, who is now responsible for Asset Management, Private Banking, and Insurance.

According to an internal memo accessed by the Spanish press, García Carranza replaces Víctor Matarranz, who previously led Wealth Management. From now on, Matarranz will work directly with the group’s CEO, Héctor Grisi, to “support him in executing the strategy,” according to the internal memo.

According to public figures, the Wealth Management & Insurance unit manages assets worth €482 billion ($523 billion). In the first quarter, the unit’s net profit rose by 27% year-on-year, representing around 13% of Santander group’s profits.

With this change, the group’s global areas are reduced to five (Retail & Commercial, Digital Consumer Bank, Payments, Corporate & Investment Banking, and Wealth Management & Insurance) at the expense of the division into geographical markets. The changes were announced at the end of 2023 and aim to simplify the entity’s offerings.

Vanguard Announces Appointment of Salim Ramji as New CEO

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Photo courtesySalim Ramji, new Vanguard's CEO

Vanguard announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Salim Ramji as the Company’s new Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board, effective July 8, 2024.

Ramji succeeds Tim Buckley, who, as previously announced, will retire and step down as Chairman and CEO.

Ramji has more than 25 years of experience in investments, capital markets and wealth management, including a decade as a senior leader at BlackRock, leaving in January 2024. Most recently, Ramji was Global Head of iShares & Index Investing, where he was responsible for managing a majority of the firm’s client assets and evolving the iShares platform to provide an even broader set of innovative low-cost products for investors globally.

His contributions led to expanded investment access for tens of millions of investors, a more central role for ETFs in retirement and wealth portfolios and a more efficient bond market with ETFs as an enabling technology. At BlackRock, he led the implementation of a voting choice platform, which democratizes client access to the proxy voting process.

“It’s an honor to join Vanguard, an institution I have long admired and respected. I am drawn to Vanguard because of the firm’s clarity and consistency of purpose and am very excited to get to work and partner with the outstanding leadership team to lead the company into the future. The current investor landscape is changing, and that presents opportunities for Vanguard to further its mission of giving people the best chance for investment success, which is more relevant today than at any time in the firm’s five-decade history. My focus will be to mobilize Vanguard to meet the moment while staying true to that core purpose – remaining the trusted firm that takes a stand for all investors,” commented Ramji.

Prior to leading iShares, Ramji was the Head of U.S. Wealth Advisory and began his BlackRock career as the Global Head of Corporate Strategy. Before joining BlackRock, he was a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company in charge of the firm’s Asset & Wealth Management Practice. He started his career as a lawyer at Clifford Chance in London and Hong Kong.

Mark Loughridge, Lead Independent Director, said: “The Board welcomes Salim to the leadership team and looks forward to working closely with him as we strengthen and expand our mission and purpose, driven by serving the interests of individual investors. Vanguard’s distinctive structure and culture have helped tens of millions of our investor-owners plan for their future and families. We have significant opportunities for growth ahead, including how technology and the client experience can drive solutions and extend the benefits of wealth management to more investors. Salim is an exceptional leader who is aligned with Vanguard’s mission-driven culture, making him the ideal candidate. Vanguard has an important future, and we believe he is the best person for the job.”

Vanguard also announced that Greg Davis, President and Chief Investment Officer, will be appointed to Vanguard’s Board of Directors and have expanded responsibility for regulatory and government affairs.

Upon the effective date of Ramji’s appointment as CEO, Buckley will step down as Chairman and CEO. Mark Loughridge, Vanguard’s Lead Independent Director, will be appointed nonexecutive Chairman.

In addition, John Murphy, President and Chief Financial Officer of The Coca-Cola Company, will be appointed to the Board of Directors of Vanguard effective June 1, 2024. He brings 40 years of business, financial, and operational leadership experience to Vanguard’s Board, with more than 35 years at The Coca-Cola Company, one of the world’s most iconic organizations. He has served as the company’s CFO since 2019, became president in 2022, and has held a variety of positions during his career, including overseeing global finance operations and business operations in Asia Pacific and parts of Latin America.

Boreal Capital Management Adds Marco Fernández and Diego Castillo in Miami

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Marco Fernández and Diego Castillo have joined Boreal Capital Management in Miami from UBS.

“As part of its ongoing commitment to growth in the wealth management space, Boreal Capital Management LLC, based in Miami, has hired Marco Fernández and Diego Castillo,” reads the statement accessed by Funds Society.

The bankers, with over 20 years of experience, specialize in high-net-worth individuals and families in Mexico.

The team, which joins the firm with offices in Spain and Zurich, has also worked at Citi and J.P. Morgan.

According to the firm’s information, it is expected that this team’s investment advisory relationships “are expected to substantially move the needle of Boreal’s total assets under management and gross revenues during 2024 and beyond.”

Additionally, the statement adds that the arrival of this duo strengthens and deepens the firm’s commercial roots in the Mexican market.

Boreal expects to increase its assets under management by 25% during 2024 and continue with double-digit growth in consolidated net profit, concludes the firm’s statement.

Jimmy Ly Joins Amundi US as new Senior Vice President Offshore

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Jimmy Ly has been named the new Senior Vice President Offshore of Amundi US, the fund manager said Thursday in a statement accessed by Funds Society.

Ly has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. Previously, he was CEO of Tigris and spent four years as Executive Director, Head of US Offshore & Latin America at Robeco.

In addition, he also worked for 14 years for Pioneer Investments and nearly four years for Merrill Lynch.

He will be in charge of coverage of certain parts of the Florida offshore market and the entire California offshore market, according to the statement accessed by Funds Society.

SEC Names Nathaniel H. Benjamin as Director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion

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The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that Nathaniel H. Benjamin has been appointed the Director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI). Benjamin will join OMWI from AmeriCorps, where he is the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

“I welcome Nate to the SEC in the leadership role as Director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. Nate brings deep experience to the Office, having led various workforce development and employee engagement programs throughout two decades in public service,” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler and he thank Allison Wise, OMWI’s Deputy Director, has served as Acting Director of the Office since October 2023.

Benjamin joined AmeriCorps from the Department of Education, where he was deputy chief human capital officer and worked as a change strategist and executive leader for the agency’s operational functions. He was also the managing executive for the department’s diversity, equity, and inclusion program and led the agency’s Diversity and Inclusion Council.

Benjamin previously was the human capital director and deputy chief human capital officer at the Office of Management and Budget, where he directed the human capital strategy, workforce development and employee engagement initiatives, and the diversity and inclusion plan. He was also the deputy human resources officer for the T Family Bureaus at the U.S. Department of State, where he led the civil service staff for three bureaus supporting its arms control and international security missions.

Over a 24-year career, Benjamin has served as a noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force, a civil servant for the Department of Defense, and an adjunct instructor at Trinity Washington University and the Art Institute of Washington. Mr. Benjamin is a certified professional coach and executively trained in strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion management through Georgetown University. He has received several awards for his superior leadership and notable results as a federal human resources change agent in diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. He has an M.B.A. from Johns Hopkins University, an MA from the University of Baltimore, and a B.A. from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

“I am honored to join the Securities and Exchange Commission as the Director of the Office of Women and Minority Inclusion,” said Nathaniel Benjamin. “I will use my experience to address challenges and barriers and strategically lead the Office. I look forward to working with the Commission to further equity and opportunities for all SEC stakeholders.”

Wise joined the SEC in June 2021. Before that, she led 60+ federal partners as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. She also served as the inaugural Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the National Archives and Records Administration. Wise has held several advisory roles on Federal DEI Councils and was the co-founder of the Federal Interagency Diversity Partnership. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Finance from the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business and Executive Certifications in Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Management from both Georgetown University and the Harvard Kennedy School.