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Former UNC investor shines

Mark Yusko" who used to work on the University?s endowment now manages an investment advising company in Chapel Hill.

Former Chancellor Michael Hooker had a vision for UNC's money management — a centralized asset management business within the University that smaller schools could employ to handle their money.

Mark Yusko was working toward this end at the University bringing its endowment from the bottom quarter of performance to a $1.5 billion operation.

But when Hooker died of cancer" there was nobody left to champion the vision.

""The board decided they wanted to go slower than I did"" Yusko said.

So in 2004, he left and started Morgan Creek Capital Management, an investment advising company, in Chapel Hill. And after four years, it's managing $13 billion dollars, Yusko said.

We've been successful"" he said.

Starting his business in New York or Boston, which have thriving finance scenes, would have been the typical thing to do.

But location in Chapel Hill provides a competitive advantage, he said.

You avoid groupthink. You avoid crowded trades.""

More and more people are moving into alternative investment management"" Yusko said.

""It's the hot area; compensation is very high"" he said.

And his ties with the University allow him to recruit from the school.

When recruiting, he looks for the basics: intellect, creativity, passion and competitiveness.

And personality — they need to pass the beer test.""

""If I don't want to have beer with you" I'm not interested in having you on the team" he said.

He employs several former business school students, he said.

But the average college student, or the average person for that matter, isn't an expert at money management.

Yusko laughs when he recalls the financial irresponsibility of college students.

When I turned 30" I realized how dumb I was at 20. When I turned 40 I realized how dumb I was at 30" he said.

But if college students start saving now, if they open an Individual Retirement Account and fully fund it, compound interest will reward them later, he said.

Yusko was a biology and chemistry major at the University of Notre Dame.

It was the best training possible for investing" he said. Science is about forming hypotheses and testing them" and that's what investing is all about.""

College students often let themselves fall into their careers instead of taking action" said Brad Briner" a 1999 alumnus who works for Morgan Creek.

""One of the popularly held myths is that if you want to go into finance" you have to be an investment banker he said.

But Briner sought out a job with Yusko.

Investing should be a part of your life" Yusko said. The ultimate goal is to have your money make more than you do.""

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