Interviews | Dec 13, 2019 | Cynthia Ramsaran
Talking with… Kevin Mirabile
Each “Talking With…” feature helps you learn about a different Gabelli School faculty member, administrator, or staff member. This week, we’re speaking with Kevin Mirabile, clinical associate professor of finance and economics and director of the alternative investments program at the Gabelli School of Business.
You have a specialty in hedge fund business model risk assessment. What interests you about this subject matter?
So much attention is given to the ability of hedge funds and other alternative investment strategies to generate absolute returns. Less attention is given to understanding the manager’s ability to run a business. Most managers have never run a business before launching a hedge fund, so they might be a bit overwhelmed by the business risks and logistics needed to set up a firm while also focusing on managing money.
Exceptional fund managers get this imperative and launch their firms with the right mix of entrepreneurship, operations, legal, compliance, and risk management resources.
What was it like to actually operate a hedge fund?
I only worked as a hedge fund partner, trader, and COO for 15 months just before the financial crisis. During that time, I learned an awful lot about how hard it is to manage money outside the confines of a big bank or asset management business. When you run a hedge fund, you have to raise your own capital from investors and take care of everything from the phone system to the portfolio management and trading platforms to hiring staff or setting bonus policies.
It is thrilling in one sense. Every day is a new adventure, but it is also very tough. Fortunately, I worked with a great founding partner and some talented staff. Our fund closed just before the financial crisis hit hard. Smaller funds like the one I was with continue to have a real disadvantage against the mega-firms that operate in the hedge fund space. Sometimes failing teaches you as much as being a big success.
How have you used your experience to help give back to the community?
Just after our hedge fund closed, I was asked to be the chairman and a co-founder of a middle school for underprivileged boys in Newburgh, New York. I truly needed to leverage all my operations, accounting, financing, fundraising, and relationship management skills to help move the school from a nice idea to a living and breathing institution. Since my initial involvement, and thanks to the hard work of many volunteers and staff, the San Miguel Academy of Newburgh has helped numerous middle school students escape their high crime and low-income neighborhoods to achieve some amazing results.
I have seen our middle school graduates go on to high performing high schools like Fordham and Iona Preparatory school or attend and graduate from colleges such as the Merchant Marine Academy and Fairfield University.
Favorite movie of all time?
Braveheart! I have literally seen it a dozen times. My wife hates it!
Most productive in the morning or evening?
Definitely the evening. I always teach late classes, and dread 8:00 am meetings. I often stay up late grading papers or preparing for classes after everyone has gone to bed.
New York, of course, but London is a close second.
Dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
George Washington. I would love to hear his perspective on today’s politics!