by Matt Kelly
Wall Street wiz advises on endowment
By Matt Kelly
Bills has come home to U.Va.
44, a member of the class of 78, was named the chief investment
officer at the U.Va.
Investment Management Company in June. He recommends strategies
for investing the Universitys $1.7 billion endowment to
Alice Handy, U.Va. treasurer and president of UVIMCO, who recruited
is a department of the University that reports to a committee
of the Board of Visitors and has four outside board members chosen
from alumni in the investment community.
carries with him a stellar record in the investing field. He was
a senior managing director of and head trader and chief operating
officer for Tiger Management LLC, as well as vice president of
the equity trading and arbitrage division of Goldman Sachs &
Co., both in New York City. He is now happy to put his expertise
to work for U.Va.
his contribution to the University is not limited to recommending
investments. Since 1999, he has taught investing at the McIntire
School of Commerce.
and teaching appeal to different facets of Bills personality.
He enjoyed mentoring younger employees at Goldman Sachs and Tiger
and he said this was part of the impetus to teach school. He said
when he first started, he was not sure if teaching would generate
the same level of enjoyment he got from Wall Street, but the responses
from his students, especially when he helps them understand something,
has made it worth it.
all had great teachers in the past who have helped us figure things
out, he said, adding that many students are pursuing truth,
ethics and honor in business.
is the second time Charlottesville has lured back Bills and his
family. During the familys first return, from 1992 to 1995,
Bills, a 1981 graduate of the Columbia Business School, also taught
at McIntire. He returned to New York for four years, on a specific
contract to continue work for Tiger, then the family returned
here in 1999.
enjoy a challenge, Bills said of going back to New York,
which suits his competitive nature. But he knew he would return
to Charlottesville, which has always held a place in his heart.
Bills and his wife had gone to school here, the community did
not appear on the list of places where they wanted to live until
they started to raise their family. He said there were three or
four communities they were looking at and Charlottesville kept
working its way up the list, partially as a sentimental favorite.
We enjoyed our time [in New York City] but it was never
home, Bills said.
is high intellect per capita and low pretense per capita.
also a great place to raise children, according to Bills, who
has two sons and two daughters, ranging in age from seven to 14.
Both Bills and wife, Sonjia Smith, (College 79, Law 82),
graduated from high school in Hampton, where they were high school
has also taken steps to immerse himself in the community, joining
the board of the Nature Conservancy and being one of two founders
of the Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership. His wife, who
had practiced law in Chicago and New York, is currently doing
local philanthropic work.
Bills enjoys the quiet life of Charlottesville, there are also
challenges here for him as he uses his expertise to advise Handy
on investing the Universitys endowment.
credits Handy with the good performance of the Universitys
I want to help her and learn some things in the process,
him on board is a benefit for Handy, who said Bills ability
complements resident talents. His specialty is investing
in hedge funds, an investment mechanism of aggressive strategies,
including selling short, leverage, arbitrage and derivatives.
However, she said his real talent is in staff development, building
strong work teams, as he did at Goldman Sachs and Tiger.
said he worked with talented people in his previous positions
and developing those talents is important. Just because
you hire somebody who is bright does not mean they will succeed,
he said. You have to get the most from what youve
want a diversity of ideas, and a strength of analysis that allows
an idea to be tested to the maximum possible, using judgment and
the strength of intellectual pursuit to challenge ideas, from
the most junior member of the staff to the most senior, to see
if we can refine it in the best possible way.
thing that is consistent in the academic and the investment world,
[is that] I am a competitive guy. I want to win and to perform
well. But I want to be proud of how I win. I want to be able to
say that I did it fair and square. That is the method we use here
[at UVIMCO and in class].
believes U.Va.s honor code is crucial in both academic and
real world environments. He said that one of the aspects of competing
effectively in the business world hinges on whether or not people
can trust you. In the investment world where knowledge is power,
he transacted trillions of dollars because people knew they could
trust him and he knew whom he could trust, Bills said. He thinks
students should be truthful and honest as part of their own self-interest.
feels his students are more cognizant of the honor code because
he himself has been successful. They think about the honor
code because I say it, Bills said. They believe it
in part because I have been in the real world and successful in
a real competitive world. It gives me more credibility.
said with many of the students, the principles are in place, but
the specifics are not and while some of the students are more
focused, the confusion of youth is still resting upon them. He
said the degree of affluence is greater at the University than
when he was a student, bringing with it a heightened degree of
said some of his students are well intentioned with their plans,
but there are others who have a more concrete idea of what they
want. He meets with all his students personally to help them sort
this out and convince them that life doesnt have to
be a grind.
Bills, it is good to be back at his alma mater, as a contributing
This job is important because of the endowment, he
said of his role directing investments. What performance
we generate effects the scholarships and the buildings in perpetuity.
said while he does not raise the money or determine how it is
spent, he can have a role in keeping the endowment robust, which
will make donors feel good about their investment and give parents
and students confidence in the University.
said one of Bills major assets for the University, besides
being an alum, is his affability.
a genuinely nice guy, she said.