Jes Staley joined BlueMountain in February 2013 as a Managing Partner. Prior to joining BlueMountain, Jes spent over 30 years at J.P. Morgan where he was the CEO of J.P. Morgan’s Investment Bank and CEO of J.P. Morgan Asset Management. He holds a B.A. in Economics from Bowdoin College.
What attracted you to BlueMountain?
Well, first the culture of BlueMountain. The standards set by the Managing Partners were very evident the moment I started spending some time here, from Andrew on down: the integrity, the transparency, and the collaborative nature of the firm.
I think the second attraction is a belief that there is a structural shift occurring in the financial markets as regulators respond to the financial crisis of 2008, particularly in the credit markets. The investment side’s role is going to grow significantly as banks de-risk and as the credit markets become even more idiosyncratic than they have been in the past. And so BlueMountain, with its risk management systems, its investment expertise, and financial wherewithal, will be a significant player as that structural shift occurs.
You said on CNBC that BlueMountain is the New York Yankees of the hedge fund manager space, even though you’re from Boston. No offense taken, but what did you mean?
Well, I’m a Sox fan, so it was tough for me to use that metaphor. When I was with J.P. Morgan, one of the great pleasures of working for that institution was its reputation for integrity and its upright character.
I think that BlueMountain has the same reputation for integrity and character, and I think the people who work here realize that they’re working for a very special institution. And so, while it’s tough for me to admit, there’s a history, legacy, and a certain pride in the Yankee pinstripes. And BlueMountain has the same reputation in the alternative investment space.
You are part of what might be called a great migration of talent from the sell side to the buy side. What wisdom would you impart on someone considering making the same move that you did?
One of the things that I like about the buy side (or the investment side) and I felt this when I was over in the asset management business at J.P. Morgan, is that there’s a really attractive symmetry between what our clients want us to do and what we want to do. We really have a very simple business model, which is to attempt to deliver the risk-adjusted returns that our clients expect, and we are not an intermediary. We work for our limited partners. And the only thing that matters is we safely and intelligently invest the wealth that they entrust to us. So, I think there’s almost simplicity in the fiduciary function, which is very attractive to the buy side.
Could you talk a little bit about what you think are some of the defining attributes of BlueMountain’s people?
It does go back, first and foremost, to integrity, transparency, and collaboration. We do a lot of very complex transactions, and I think we have earned and developed a reputation for working with high levels of confidentiality, and doing so fairly with everyone who touches BlueMountain.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy sailing and hanging out with my kids. We have a boat that was built in Maine and so we like sailing in New England.