Q&A With New Trillium CEO Matt Patsky
Your investment career started in 1984 at Lehman Brothers. How did you find your way into SRI?
My first experience with socially responsible investing (SRI) came a bit early in life. Growing up I had a keen interest in the stock market and actually made my first investment in a mutual fund at age eleven. With only $500 saved from shoveling driveways, mowing and raking lawns, I decided a balanced mutual fund was the best way to start investing. The fund I selected was Dreyfus Third Century Fund, which was one of the earliest SRI mutual funds. It made intuitive sense to me even back then that investing should include looking at the sustainability of the business practices of the companies you are investing in.
After graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, I was recruited to work as part of the technology equity research team at Lehman Brothers in 1984. While working at Lehman, I began to explore incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into the research I was doing. In 1989, as I shifted into the consumer growth space, I began to incorporate these factors into my research.
What was attractive to you about Trillium?
Trillium is one of the iconic brands in the SRI world that I first interacted with as a client. While looking at incorporating ESG factors in my research at Lehman, I met Joan Bavaria of Franklin Research, as it was known then, and was an early subscriber to their newsletter Insight. Joan, along with a number of the early visionaries in the field, had encouraged my thoughts of building a franchise within the sell-side that incorporated these broader issues.
I had long admired the work of both Joan Bavaria and Trillium and was quite humbled to have received a call asking if I would consider the role of CEO of the company.
Trillium’s been a pioneer in SRI research and advocacy since 1982. The field has grown exponentially since then in assets under management, the range of investment products offered and in many other ways. How do you see Trillium evolving in this more competitive environment?
I was pleased to find in my due diligence of Trillium that not only did the company have a brand with authenticity in the area of SRI research and advocacy, but a solid long-term 10 year track record of investment out performance. This is a competitive advantage that I do not believe is well known in the marketplace. Trillium has a long and well- established leadership role in shareholder advocacy. This commitment will remain as strong under my leadership and is a distinct differentiator versus our competition. The firm also was an early pioneer in the field of community investing. This is also a key competitive advantage.
What do you envision for the future of Trillium?
Trillium is one of the oldest and strongest franchises in the SRI industry. We have been incorporating environmental, social and governance factors since 1982. As the broader investment universe is beginning to look at these factors as a meaningful long-term contributor to alpha generation, I believe we are in a very enviable position. We, in the SRI community, have long been waiting for institutional investors, particularly the endowment, foundation and retirement plan market, to recognize the benefit of incorporating non-financial metrics into the investment process. That day is finally arriving and Trillium stands to be a major beneficiary of this trend. I believe we will look back five years from now and still stand as the largest independent, employee owned firm in the SRI industry.