In celebration of International Women’s Month, Sean Li, together with special co-host Keitha Pansy, welcomes Emilie Cortes, a full-time MBA class of 2002. She is the Treasurer at Compton Foundation and the Chief Financial Officer at Toniic.
Emilie shares how being a “secret genius” paved the way for a finance career and how her love for mountaineering helped launch her entrepreneurial path.
She also talks about how she got into the global impact investing ecosystem when she joined Toniic, a nonprofit organization with a powerful mission aligned with her passion.
Emilie also explains the articles she co-wrote with fellow Haas alum Tracy Gray, which focused on community foundations and five action items that people can apply in their organizations, especially those focusing on gender equity or racial justice.
“Somebody calls me the secret genius because I don’t look the stereotypical image of what a smart person looks like. I like that triple threat because people have low expectations, and then I get a chance to blow them away.”
“The first issue we wanted to dismantle was the misconception that women and people of color as funded managers are more risky. I have not yet seen a single study that says less diversity is better, not one. And I’ve never seen or heard of a study that said polished presentations equals higher returns. So, this is really in the bias land because all the data is that women and people of color are less risky and perform better.”
“If your goal is to help women and people of color and you’re not helping your managers who are women and people of color, it’s quite hypocritical.”
- How Foundations Fail Diverse Fund Managers and How to Fix It
- Goldman Sachs on Women and Mixed Gender
(Transcripts may contain a few typographical errors due to audio quality during the podcast recording.)
Sean Li: Welcome to the OneHaas alumni podcast. I’m your co-host today, Sean Li. And I’m joined by Keitha Pansy. She was one of our recent guests, one of my favorite guests, Keitha Pansy, and I’ll let you take it off.
[00:00:21] Keitha Pansy: Thanks, Sean. I’m so honored to be welcomed and invited to the OneHaas podcast again in celebration of women’s history month. And I am super excited. For our guest today, Emilie Cortes, who is the Chief Financial Officer of Toniic and treasurer of Compton Foundation. But more importantly, my favorite title is my B-School bestie.
[00:00:49] So, Emilie and I, She is my fellow Haas classmate from 2002 from the full-time MBA program. And she is a superstar, so I am completely biased. In having her as our first guest for the international women’s month. And when I say B-School bestie, she is just that 20, some odd years later. But she is a superstar in the world of finance. She has had several pivots in her career, and I look forward to engaging with her. She is not only an MBA, but she is a charter financial analyst as well as a chartered alternative investment analyst. So she’s like a triple threat in the world of finance, and she’s a woman. it’s like having an EGOT, right? An Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. So she has all three. So, Emilie Cortes, I welcome you to the OneHaas podcast. How are you?
[00:01:54] Emilie Cortes: I’m great. I have to say that you’re not biased. You’re just right.
[00:01:56] Keitha Pansy: So I want the rest of the world, the Haas community, to get to know my Em. And as I mentioned, I preface with, you’ve had several pivots, interesting ones in your career, and I have been so grateful to journey along each of them with you since we met in 2000. So let’s start with, what were you doing right after we graduated from business school? What did you do and why?
[00:02:30] Emilie Cortes: So I had several different roles in finance, and you know, part of this too, if you’ve ever met me, I’m 5’1″, I’ll be self-described as curvy. I’m blonde. No one assumes that I’m a quant jock, right? So I kind of have that chip on my shoulder. But then I went into structured finance, structuring, collateralized debt obligations, selling portfolio, analytic tools to hedge funds, and then basically transitioned them to portfolio management. Managing probably about $7 billion worth of Taft-Hartley union pension funds and also foundations, which is how I got connected to the Compton Foundation.
[00:03:07] So then I kind of call, like my first third of my career out of business school was really very, very focused on technical finance.
[00:03:15] Sean Li: I’m going to jump in right there, actually. I would love to hear a little bit about your background, Emilie.
[00:03:20] Emilie Cortes: Well, I’m glad you said that cause I actually, you know, Keitha calls me her B-School bestie. Well, it’s not just because we got along great in business school, but she hails from a small town in Arkansas. I hail from a small l town in South Texas. Um, she went to Howard; I went to American University in DC. And we both show up in Berkeley.
[00:03:40] And then when she’s at BGI, Barclays Global Investors, I was working across the street at Moody’s KMV, and they’re crunched up. So it just like there’s some really amazing parallels of two kind of small-town gal showing up in DC and having a worldly experience and then being very ambitious and successful in the rest of our careers and continuing to support each other, both in our career and, and truly, and emotionally. So, I value her very much.
[00:04:09] Keitha Pansy: You know, Em, I completely, it’s, not that I completely forgot about that because I will share my initial written intro of you. I noted that we were both Southern girls, but, you know, I guess because we’ve been on this path for a while together, I forget about you were at American University. I was at Howard University, and then we both landed at Berkeley and at Haas. I think Haas brought us together, but our journeys were parallel, and we didn’t even know each other until 2000, right? Yeah. Thanks, Haas.
[00:04:53] Sean Li: I’m really curious how you came to pick finance as a career path.
[00:04:57] Emilie Cortes: Completely out of survival. I grew up very, it was very little, I call it Goodwill poor I mean, I had a house over my roof over my head, and we had food, but we couldn’t afford new clothes. So for me, I never really had the luxury of thinking. I’m going to be an artist. It’s like, how do I make money?
[00:05:18] How do I be independent? How do I survive and thrive? And I was always good at math and great at school. So that was absolutely just a no-brainer, so that’s why I picked finance.
[00:05:29] Keitha Pansy: Maybe you can share also Em. How many of us were there, like finance? I think the majority of our class. When it came to women, right? We’re focused in consulting and marketing.
[00:05:44] Emilie Cortes: Yeah, that used to drive me nuts. Cause people were like, Oh, I thought you were in Sales. And yeah. They’re like, you’re you seem like a Sales and Marketing kind of gal. And like what? Cause I’m a woman? Cause I have long hair? Like no y’all. Oh, I have a really funny story actually in our micro econ class. So I got this reputation for taking tests really fast.
[00:06:05] I mean, I just think really fast. I’m the opposite of performance anxiety when it comes to tests, and there’s one test I actually completely blew because the professor said, even if you mess up one step, if you carry that errors through and demonstrate that, you know, the concept. Well, I messed up the first one, and it gave me zero credit.
[00:06:24] I’m like, wait, what? So is my first failing grade in my entire life. And then thankfully, he said, whatever you get on the final, if it’s greater than your average, that’ll be your final grade for the whole class. So you better believe I studied my butt off for that final. And I think there were like 200 people in that final exam, and I went so slow.
[00:06:48] It’s like, like molasses and double-checking and triple-checking and like there’s no way of me to get a single error. And in fact, later, I did find a 99 on that exam. And I was still out of 200, like the fourth person to finish. And later, some of the guys said they actually put money on it. And some people lost some money because they thought I would be the first one is usual.
[00:07:12] I mean, like the one test that people would put money on me being first. So somebody calls me the secret genius because, you know, it’s what you judge people by, right? I don’t look very smart, but the, you know, stereotypical image of what a smart person looks like, right? So that sounds, I like that triple threat because people have low expectations, and then I get a chance to blow them away.
[00:07:36] Keitha Pansy: Still, to this day, you are the secret genius.
[00:07:40] Emilie Cortes: Okay. But that’s part of why I have, you know, I call it the trilogy. Why have an MBA, a CFA, and a CAIA? is to be taken seriously, is to have a seat at the table. Because people see that, and they go, Oh, well, I can’t actually blow this person off. They may truly know what they’re talking about.
[00:07:58] Keitha Pansy: I think we as women have to do that to prove ourselves. Would you not agree?
[00:08:04] Emilie Cortes: Absolutely. And you know, I’ve also talked about this with my colleagues who are women of color, who do it even more than I do.
[00:08:11] Keitha Pansy: Hello, sister.
[00:08:12] Emilie Cortes: Yeah.
[00:08:15] Keitha Pansy: Hello? Is she? No, I have not stopped at an MBA and continue to get where letters behind my name. We have to, you know, you know, for the generations behind us, it should not be the case.
[00:08:30] Emilie Cortes: That’s my hope.
[00:08:31] Keitha Pansy: And that’s where we’re working, and that is what we’re working to change. Let’s pivot out of your quant life into what I find as the most fascinating part of your journey today, but look, we’re still on life’s journey, right?
[00:08:47] But I do remember the day you called me to tell me. I’m thinking about buying. Well, let me take a step back. Let me share with the rest of the world. Most people, when I describe Emilie, I’ll say I will actually start with she’s a mountaineer and people will give me this strange look like, what’s that? I’m like she climbs. Oh, okay. Like boulders. I was like, yes; she can do that. But then I’m like, no, like Denali or Kilimanjaro. And so let’s talk about this pivot and this interest of you. I remember when you used to ask me, do you want to go snow camping on a mountain? Remember that? And I’m like, no, like no.
[00:09:37] Emilie Cortes: She said she didn’t need to say no. She said, hell no.
[00:09:42] Keitha Pansy: My blood is not built for that. Let’s talk about this shift that started with you climbing, but it also, I think, was the launch pad of your entrepreneurial path.
[00:09:56] Emilie Cortes: Yeah, for sure. And it also, it had a huge impact on even who I am today and the professional risks I’ve taken and things like that. So, it’s probably a year or two after business school; I got into mountaineering. I’m not athletic, never has been, loved the outdoors, but then….
[00:10:15] Keitha Pansy: You are athletic, you are athletic.
[00:10:18] Emilie Cortes: I have never thought of myself as athletic.
[00:10:22] Keitha Pansy: Well, I only have one friend who’s climbed those peaks, only one. That’s you, and you are a girl.
[00:10:31] Emilie Cortes: I am a girl. I am a girl, and I was pretty shocked that I actually did a really good job. So even though I’m small, I can carry really large loads. And I can, I can handle altitude really well, and I’m just built for like, I can do 20 hours without stopping. I’m not fast and don’t look fit. I’m not tall with a nice long stride, but I can do; I can definitely carry large packs for like expedition-style climbing.
[00:10:59] Denali is one of the mountains I climbed as well as an 8,000-meter peak called Makalu. I did not summit, but I did survive. And so it’s, it’s another area of my life where people are really shocked and totally underestimate me, especially if I show up and I’m going to do a trip with a bunch of men early on; I did guided stuff.
[00:11:15] So that would happen. They seriously, every time, would look at you like, Oh my God, we’re going to probably have to carry this woman down the mountain or stuff. And there were so many times when, like the guys wouldn’t have trained and they would be exhausted, and I would like, whisper, Hey, do you want me to take your rope?
[00:11:31] I still have energy. And they’re like, Oh my God, thank you. That’d be great. Tell it to everybody. Cause then, you know, the fragile male ego, right? But that’s because I trained, and I’ve always been like super group-oriented, very collaborative. Well, in the beginning, would lead from behind. Now I’m much more comfortable leading from the front.
[00:11:50] But the thing that that did for me was I would come back to the office and my overwhelmingly alpha male-dominated finance career. And I just stopped being intimidated because I’m like, you guys went to your kid’s soccer game, or you mowed your lawn. Or whatever. And like I climbed Rainier. So why am I afraid of you, right?
[00:12:12] Like honest to God, that changed me completely. And it did then. So then I just bit off, a little bit more. And I started leading, and I found people like actually trusted my judgment and would listen to me, my mind, and it, you know, kind of fast forward. I was very frustrated with the finance world and a lot of the ethos about just kind of chewing people up and spitting them out.
[00:12:35] Not always doing right by the client. I’m not a yes, man. That doesn’t always go over well with management. And so I had this opportunity to buy a small international women’s adventure travel company, and I’ve traveled extensively, internationally, been to all sorts of places that we could run his trips, speak a bunch of languages.
[00:12:56]Had the guiding background, and, you know, I am known to launch into these, uh, soliloquy and take anything that’s happening. Like somebody’s tired and didn’t ask for help. So I’m going to turn that into a lesson for everyone about why do we need to put our own oxygen mask on first in order to be a great teammate?
[00:13:15] Right? So this combining this company, which is called, Call of the Wild, it’s pretty inexpensive. It was less than a house just in case you were impressed that I bought a company. But it really fits so many aspects of my personality, my personal mission. I definitely like ran it like no other adventure travel company is run in terms of the books were actually right, and I could project cash flow and things like that.
[00:13:40] But then I did open up to, you know, working with people. I was really working on the culture, being a very inspirational culture, not just perfectly executing itineraries, but really giving something that people would come back and they’d write me letters and say, the horizon looks different to me now.
[00:13:56] And that was so, so meaningful. And then I did a lot of Sales and Marketing and found that I actually kinda liked it. Don’t tell the guys back in business school. Yeah. And it was fabulous, but in the end, you just, you know, when you, when you want to buy or run a business, you kind of want to look at ones where you’ll be swimming downstream.
[00:14:20] You know, the market trends are working with you. There’s growth opportunities. There’s economies of scale. The more you grow, the more you make. That’s not true with venture travel. There is disintermediation in terms of the actual planning of travel, uh, flights, hotels, things like that, self-guided tours, a really growing in popularity versus guided tours.
[00:14:43] And then our company really focused on kind of older women. So older now that I’m in my forties, I don’t like that. But forties to even 70 super-fit women had some disposable income. Because of the generation had grown up a little bit, you know, generation before us didn’t have as much autonomy taking care of the kids more as like their second part of their life.
[00:15:05] I want to do something for me. I want adventure, and I’m not excited about going and doing that with a few 20-year-old guys as the guides. So, that was our niche. And it was very powerful, but our clients were also aging out because the new generation did not want to go guide it. They want the adventurous planning themselves.
[00:15:26] So, pretty much every single trend was working against me. And even those starting to turn it around, and I even won an entrepreneur of the year award here at Bend. I did decide to shut it down in 2016 because I put all my assets into it at that point, and the next one was going to have to be my house.
[00:15:44] And that’s where I had drawn the line. So, I did shut it down, and I have to say, I’m so grateful now with COVID. If I was in the travel business, I would have lost my house. So it is a tough thing at the time. But it did create a launching pad for some other opportunities. And then, uh, saved me from being a wrong kind of business during the pandemic.
[00:16:05] Keitha Pansy: I think what’s what we must note here. You spoke about everything that you were doing to run that business, which you can fall back on what we learn at Haas. Would you not agree?
[00:16:26] Emilie Cortes: Oh yeah. Super well-rounded business professional. Absolutely. And the ability to there’s so many times in my career that I have reached out to my colleagues may have had colleagues as clients on called awhile when I was structuring one of those really large collateralized debt obligations.
[00:16:43] And I needed a line of credit for the equity tranche. And we won’t go into the details of what that is. I never, I didn’t even really understand what the line of credit was. I knew it needed to be 500 million, and that was really big. And so I called; I can’t remember who it was, but they were at Wells Fargo, and I was like, can I ask you all my stupid questions about lines of credit?
[00:17:02] And they’re like, yeah. And through that conversation, then I got connected to their bank, banker, and then was able to have an intelligent conversation with another bank in like single-handed right out of business school with no experience in commercial banking was able to structure a $500 million line of credit, which is part of why I ended up getting promoted to vice president.
[00:17:24] Because I could have like have no knowledge about something and take it all the way to completion and do it on my own, even when I wasn’t very experienced, but the network and the knowledge and everything. I mean, I would definitely not be where I am today without Haas.
[00:17:39] Keitha Pansy: So, we close out, call we can, we can go overseas if you want, or we can go into…
[00:17:48] Emilie Cortes: I mean, I’ll just, we’ll just touch on it.
[00:17:51] I had an opportunity then, so I was like, okay, no more, no business of still fighting, going back to finance. And I got an opportunity. It’s kind of a turnaround situation with my ground handler, my trucking company in Arusha, Tanzania, to help professionalize the family business basically, but it was run by two people that were divorcing and needed somebody to come in that was professional and just run it and take the family dynamics out of it. And in about six months, I like nearly turned the company around but couldn’t overcome the interpersonal dynamics. And so I left, but I have to say that in that short period of time, it was the second time I’d lived abroad a but first time, like working abroad, running a company abroad, running a company with like 200 people, learning their language, the culture, bridging cultures, because we had all of our clients were Western-like tremendous learning experience. And I do wish I could’ve stayed longer, but that’s just how it works. And it put me in a position then where I said, okay, I got to come back to finance. I got to get a quote-unquote, a real job again.
[00:19:04] Keitha Pansy: I recall us having a conversation when you were there early on. And I was like, girl, what are you doing? And he said, I said, are we sure about this? But we, we weren’t sure. Right. But I remember you saying, I was like, okay, so you’re turning around. Okay. What’s your position? What position are you playing?
[00:19:27] You said I’m a CEO CFO. I’m the CFO. I’m the COO. And I’m a CFO. And sometimes I do actual guides, and I was like, I did the emoji of hitting my face. And then it was like, are they paying you enough?
[00:19:47] Emilie Cortes: No, but it was awesome. Then I learned I love running companies
[00:19:51] Keitha Pansy: You do
[00:19:52] Emilie Cortes: I love doing it all and love managing it all. I just want a more stable income. So that’s where I said, okay. I, you know that, and yes. And actually, you know, the other thing about having, you know, really protect your reputation because having a good reputation. Continuing to stay in touch with people in your network. But honestly, sometimes I’ll call somebody I haven’t talked to in 10 years, and they’ll help me out, right? But I put the feelers out to my network, and I’m like, I don’t know exactly what I want next, but I know this needs to be senior management.
[00:20:30] It needs to be working for an inspired company. It needs to have some kind of flexibility. I just can’t do the commercial bank, being a cog in the wheel. Exactly 08:30 to 05:30 kind of job, right? And then like, like really not just being an inspired organization in terms of the culture, but the mission has to be powerful and aligned with my passion because that was the best thing about Call of the Wild was feeling that every day, I was doing something that I loved, even if I was filling out a permit or something like that, that was very administrative.
[00:20:58] So Toniic, so that came to me from my network that Toniic c-suite, Nonprofit, great culture located in San Francisco, and the mission is to promote impact investing globally. It is the only job that I applied for and, and I got cause it wasn’t going to apply for anything else that was just, you know, just to have a paycheck.
[00:21:19] Keitha Pansy: So now we’re at, we’ve been at Toniic for about three or four years, I think you’re going into your fourth year, right? Um, and your work at Toniic has absolutely expanded your ecosystem of players within the impact space, which I think, if you don’t mind, I want to make sure we drop the nuggets about your recent article, along with Tracy Gray, who is also a fellow Haas alum.
[00:21:51] And you both recently published an article with the Stanford Social Innovation Review entitled, How Foundations Fail Diverse Fund Managers And How To Fix It, and I call on everyone listening to this podcast, we will, we will link it and to take a moment and read that. But in this, in this publication, you and Tracy, you don’t touch on anything that’s new, but what I appreciate about the article is you give us actionable items to take away. And this focuses on, let me share with our community foundations. And so let’s talk about why you focused on foundations. And then I really want to do a deep dive into the actual items, like the five action items you’ve called out in the article. So those that are listening that are in this space, you’re like, these are some low hanging fruit that I can just take away and run with back to my organization.
[00:22:55] Emilie Cortes: Let me back up a little bit, because I think this is, this is important is that I mentioned that I had foundation clients when I was an investment consultant. So Compton Foundation was one of my clients. And when I left finance and gave the industry, the bird temporarily Compton Foundation asked me to stay on and serve on the board as their treasurer. So I’ve been in that role, I’ve been working with them for almost 12 years. And in this role for about 10. And I did it, not only because I cared and they are impact investors and very inspired, but also, you know, I had this thing in the back of my head, I’m going to keep this. It’s kind of like a, if a woman takes off time for maternity, but keeps this one thing going so that there’s no break on their resume.
[00:23:38] So I kept that as my, like, showing that I didn’t have a break in finance, but it ended up becoming very critical because, um, yeah. Manage all of the investments and the budget and got the inside view of how the foundation is run and the relationship with an investment advisor, the IRS regulations about how much can be spent, and fiduciary duty and those kinds of things.
[00:24:03] So that’s why I connected with Tracy Gray, but she’s EMBA 2007. we were at a conference called confluence philanthropy. That’s for foundations that are impact investors. And I it’s hard to remember exactly. I think she was on a panel, and I went up to her, and I expressed this frustration of hearing the same exact questions being asked by the audience members.
[00:24:26] Like I’ve been hearing this for like the last 10 years. And so we had a drink, and we’re just kind of complaining about the state of the industry.
[00:24:34] We then a year later saw each other at the same conference in Brooklyn, heard the same kinds of things, which we will in…
Keitha Pansy: [00:24:28] Is this when you came to visit me in Brooklyn?
Emilie Cortes: [00:24:34] Yes. Yeah. So I was there. That’s right. Yeah. I was there for that conference. And we’re like, okay, we actually have to do something about this. And throughout that next year, we started to work together virtually there’s so many issues and so many parts of the system. And the interconnectedness that’s broken, but we were, you know, really, really focusing on what are the ones that you can change today.
[00:25:16] People get very overwhelmed by systemic change, but there are some things you can literally change today. And that was our focus. And then the next year was right before COVID, February 28th. We were in Puerto Rico, and we’re working on this article in the conference. Where it’s like literally out by the pool, she’s drinking a Mojito, I’m drinking a Piña Colada, and these, especially women, are coming by and going; What are you guys working on?
[00:25:40] And two of those women are now are quoted in the article, Rachel Robasciotti and Kristen Hull her and both impact investors. And they were like, Oh yes. You need to write this. So what we wrote. Anyone that’s read it has said I’ve never seen this before. And like you said, no concept is new, but to just shine the light on foundation practices where foundations are, especially those that are actually focusing their mission on gender equity or racial justice, but are investing in a way that keeps capital out of the hands of the people that are actually trying to benefit.
[00:26:16] And so, because foundations have their programming side, we call it that gives the grants. And the other side of the house is the investments and nary the two speak. And it’s actually hard to translate between the two, right? and that’s part of the problem is that investments are done in a way that often doesn’t consider one’s mission, personal values.
[00:26:40] Even just, you know, does this have any negative externalities? The thing that we’re investing, it’s very, very focused on a really narrow definition of fiduciary duty. Yup. Maximize returns, minimize risks. And we, and we all know like anybody that has like you’re working on your CFP, Certified Financial Planner, you know, these other CFA and CAIA that I have, we all talk about creating an investment policy statement.
[00:27:07] That’s your guiding light and that it should reflect the values of the client in this case foundation. So you think about all these other things. Liquidity duration. Yes, Returns, Risk or Volatility, what the asset class composition should be, Geography. Do you want the US only? Do you want global? Do you want emerging markets? Market Capitalization?
[00:27:30] Do you want exposure to small caps? Large caps? You know, um, Private Equity? But you can have all of these other criteria besides risk and return, but for some reason, you can’t consider the mission and what traditional advisors, traditional investors, institutional investors will use fiduciary duty as a crutch and say, we can’t consider anything else, but risk in return, or we’ll be violating our fiduciary duty, which sounds very scary.
[00:28:00] Nobody wants to get sued for violating fiduciary duty. Well, the concept of fiduciary duty has evolved and that, um, United Nations. Oh gosh, I can’t remember what PRS. Stands for something responsible investing has come out with a bunch of papers about the law in different regions. There’s one on the US UK, et cetera, but stating that you’re actually violating your fiduciary duty by not considering your mission in a very simple example, to demonstrate that is that let’s say you’re into the environment, and you have a hundred dollars, and you want to give $5 to green peace.
[00:28:35] Okay. So foundations have to spend 5% each year on average towards the mission, but then you invest the other 95% in Exxon the year before the oil spill, right? So this is actually how the entire system works is that 5% on average is spent each year, and the other 95% is invested without consideration to the mission.
[00:28:57] So, now, there’s much more as one of my passions actually, cause I’m a nerd. It was about fiduciary duty and the application of it. And that one’s values or mission is part of your fiduciary duty. You cannot be violating that, especially if you’re a foundation, your charitable institution. The whole reason you’re tax-exempt is to fulfill that mission. So now the other thing about Tracy, so Tracy’s all set. She’s an African-American female. She’s also ridiculously overqualified. She’s been a rocket scientist at NASA. No joke. Um, she has run companies, she’s running a fund of a fund right now called The 22 Fund.
[00:29:35] She is a trustee on a university endowment, so she has all these roles too where I’ve entrepreneurial experience running a nonprofit that’s an impact investing network, has been an investment consultant, been on the advisory role, been selecting managers, right? And that in between us, the number of, you know, designations that we have is ridiculous.
[00:29:58] So, you know, by teaming up, we became so much more powerful than either of us speaking on our own, because we literally have every aspect of financial services covered between the two of us, and then bringing together our passion for what’s often referred to as emerging managers. But I don’t love that term cause sometimes emerging managers can also be just early managers that can also can be, um, you know, white men, and in California, I think it was prob 16 actually kept pension funds.
[00:30:33 Like the CalPERS and whatnot from defining emerging managers with any kind of criteria about women or people of color. So it’s been, I think, I feel like the term has been perverted a little bit to call emerging managers. I also just like, so this is my beef to that emerging managers sounds like it’s the special category, additional due diligence, more concerned about risk, like really this other uncertain state.
[00:31:01] And why? Because it’s run by women and people of color. So I’m kind of trying to get away from talking about diverse managers, which just means they’re managers at whatever stage, but those who are running it are women or people of color.
[00:31:12] Keitha Pansy: I’m with you on the nomenclature, but most banks still call their programs emerging manager programs.
[00:31:21] Emilie Cortes: They do. I was actually in a Toniic event where we were talking about this in a breakout session. And there was a, a white man who runs his own fund, and I just gave him the same spiel that I did now. And he’s like typing away. Like, man, he’s like, I don’t mean to be rude. I realized we do this.
[00:31:39] We do exactly what you said. And I’m typing to everyone to tell them we need to stop doing this right now. I was like, wow. That is just so awesome to see like one conversation. Has instantly changed the way this man will run his advisory firm, and that’s part of why I take the time to do these kinds of things and educate folks about how this system works and how it’s set up and how it really does, um, keep capital out of the hands of women and people of color.
[00:32:06] Keitha Pansy: It really does. So effective today, we no longer use the terminology Haas community of emerging managers. It is diverse managers. So you and Tracy, you talk through five due diligence structural barriers. This is per your, that foundations and they’re related. Investment committees can easily break down and do today for better outcomes for women and BIPOCs or which five parks are black, indigenous, and Latin X people of color.
[00:32:53] So let’s talk about first outcome or what we can do or what foundations. And I think actually this is not just for foundations. I think these, these five points, any investor along the spectrum from an individual to an institution, either a .com or a .org, can walk away with these low-hanging fruit and change how they look at their investment structure today. So let’s take the first one.
[00:33:26] Emilie Cortes: Taking one real quick step back because this is a super, super important statistic. that there’s about $70 trillion of assets under management in the United States, uh, as Knight Foundation study and also the US government accountability office, multiple studies cite this of that $70 trillion 1.7% is controlled by women and people of color combined.
[00:33:53] So, you know, I’m, I know that there can be like a little bit of defensiveness if you’re a white guy listening to this. But when I say white men, it is because there is, um, 87 point, sorry, 97.3% of assets in the United States are controlled by white men. So there isn’t representation on how capital is allocated, which entrepreneurs, um, the capital trickles down to how those entrepreneurs are hiring people and what kind of policies they’ve put in place or what kind of products and markets they serve. So it’s not that I’m anti-white man. It’s that I go that 97.3% or say 98, I’m a CFO, and doing math in my head is not great. 98.3% is run by my white men. And so that’s where we took a step back and said, why? And we hear the same things over and over and from foundations and why we picked foundations. And you’re right. This could find anybody is because their mission is to do good in the world. Their mission is often around gender equity and racial justice, right?
[00:35:00] This can go to Anyone, but here we’re really picking on them because your charitable status is based on fulfilling this mission, and you’re doing these things. So we really thought, I mean, we had a long, long, long list, and we picked these five because we said you can do this tomorrow.
[00:35:15] Keitha Pansy: Let’s go back to your earlier comment where you said, you know, legally, they only have to align 5% of their investible assets towards their mission. That leaves a whole another 95% that you said your 5% can go for climate crisis, but then the 95% I’m going to invest in ExxonMobil.
[00:35:38] Emilie Cortes: What’s actually worse than you said, because that 5% includes administrative expenses. So if your administrative expenses are 2% and you’re giving away 3%, and then there’s this whole thing, which I’m also nerdy and passionate about, is what we call perpetuity versus spend down. So, you know, the 5% is partly based on if you give away 5% or spend 5% a year, and your returns, you know, in the past were 8% on average now they’re pressing for like 6. Uh, from a diversified portfolio. So you make 8% over the long run, you spend five, and you grow your Corpus, so you could give more. But the percentage that you’re giving is really, really small. So this is actually a really hot topic now is that are foundations created to live in perpetuity to be basically self-serving as its own organization and its own bureaucracy and create employment? or do foundations exist to fulfill that mission? Right? And that’s why at Compton, we actually voted to spend down in five years because one of there’s two main pillars and one is around women decent security. We believe that getting more women involved in government policy decision to go to war, how wars fought post reconciliation, you know, actually improves national or global security. Right. The other is climate change. So like, what are, what are we sitting around for giving her a 5% a year when you’re fighting climate change?
[00:37:06] Keitha Pansy: I mean, if you put, the assets around those issues, peace, and safety, climate, education, healthcare, racial, and social justice. Then there will be, there won’t be a need to have a Corpus in perpetuity.
[00:37:22] Emilie Cortes: Right. What are we gonna, what are we looking at 30 years? If the climate continues at its current rate, right? I might argue with something like education. You don’t just fix education in the next five years. That might lend itself for a longer duration, but, but most missions I’m like, yeah, you haven’t really got, so there’s that, but I don’t think it’s checking the box, I think has been done this way for so long and you’re fulfilling the requirements, but you can spend more, you can spend 8%, 10%, you can spend out fund for non-violence discover their donor, um, passed away and she left it in her will she wants him to spend out in 10 years. Why not? So that’s part of it, but the other aspect is that it’s not, there’s no, mal-intent from the investment side, doing different than the program side than the grant side. Just the two are siloed, and investment people don’t always think in a social justice, right? Or they’re even
[00:38:25] Keitha Pansy: Don’t always? Hardly ever.
[00:38:27] Emilie Cortes: I know, or they are criticized, if they even like the thought crosses their mind, right? But again, this is why we picked on foundations, because if there was an area where investments could and should be considering this there, right? I mean, of course, I think it’s everywhere, but that’s why, like, you know, Tracy’s involvement with the confluence philanthropy community, being a trustee on an endowment, muse the treasure of a foundation being a CFO Toniic, where we have lots of foundation members, we just felt like we needed to, to lift the veil on these practices that are really easy to fix.
[00:39:04] Emilie Cortes: So the first issue we wanted to dismantle was the misconception that women and people of color as funded managers are more risky. There is just a ton of data out there. In fact, there’s some really good stuff on Berkeley’s we, women in leadership conference had a bunch of resources about every aspect of diversity actually improves performance. I have not yet seen a single study that says less diversity is better. Not one.
[00:39:32] But why is there this misconception of risk? Well, when people are different than you, you have biases, right? You can’t identify with them. You don’t speak the same language. We hear things like, Oh, their presentations weren’t very polished. Tracy’s heard this. And she’s like, what do you mean by polished?
[00:39:52] It’s like the secret handshake you don’t know. And I’ve never seen or heard of a study that said polished presentations equals higher returns, right? So this is really in the bias land because all the data is that women and people of color are less risky and perform better. So, you know, Goldman Sachs put out in an article that funds in the US run by all women or mixed-gender teams actually outperformed by a hundred basis points or 1% in the first three quarters of 2020.
[00:40:28] I mean, that’s, that’s pandemic time, and they outperformed by 1%. That’s huge. Another thing I’ll say is like, I’ve never seen a study that even evaluates the risk or return trade-off of white men. And so when you think about like 2008, when the Russell 3000 dropped by was like 40% or so. I mean, if you just extrapolate that 98.3% statistic is all of those funds and companies being run by white men, and nobody asks for any kind of justification. There’s no criticism.
[00:41:10] Keitha Pansy: That was actually my most favorite statistic and quote in this article, which was by Kristen Hull, the founder and CEO of Nia Impact Capital. And that was a quote of what happened with the Russell 3000 in 2008.
[00:41:27] Emilie Cortes: So, this is also one of my favorite quotes. And this happened at the pool when she walked by, and she literally said when the Russell 3000 index dropped by 38.7% in 2008, no one questioned the white men managing it. And so, and like I said, there’s no studies to evaluate white male performance.
[00:41:50] Keitha Pansy: Well, they would never do studies on themselves.
[00:41:54] Emilie Cortes: Well, yeah, exactly. And even in the process of writing this article and then it was pitched to SSIR, and we did several rounds with their editors. Um, they’re continuing to understand it, you know, but continual requests for data and research to prop up every single statement we said. And at some point, we said, you got to stop asking for the research now cause it’s there.
[00:42:19] It’s time to just change it. And it’s not just, well, actually all the research says diverse teams do outperform and have less risk. But even if that wasn’t the case, well, maybe it’s the right thing to do.
[00:42:32] Keitha Pansy: I remember you sharing with me how it took you and Tracy. I mean, clearly, this just published at the end of last year, right? But this has been a year or two year in process. And just, I think it’s share. I mean that when you shared that with me, I was just like, what? Like, are we still like, this is the 21st century, and we’re still fighting.
[00:42:58] And this is just for a publication, like we said, in the beginning. The issues here aren’t new, but the fact let’s just share the struggle of even getting this published. And thank you, Stanford Social Innovation Review.
[00:43:12] Emilie Cortes: Yes. Thank you very much. I mean, some of it too is just, we’re so damn busy doing the real work that to do. The activism on the side is challenging.
[00:43:21] Keitha Pansy: But also, you had publications or organizations that wanted you to, I’m going to say water it down or soften the tonality.
[00:43:30] Emilie Cortes: Yes. So tone it down, and that’s something I’m definitely conscious of as a woman. Tracy was more conscious than me as a black woman. And we had a really Frank discussion with the editors that some of the toning down they wanted to make it sound less confrontational. She felt muzzled as a black woman. And it’s really hard for somebody to push back on that, right? Like, I don’t want you to feel muzzled. And they gave in. They gave in on a lot of things that would have made it sound so much more conciliatory or giving caveats. And we know everybody tries their best. It’s like, no, it’s time to actually make the change. The fact that our tone is so confrontational, and still I read it go, I don’t think it’s very confrontational.
[00:44:15] Keitha Pansy: I don’t think it’s confrontational at all.
[00:44:18] Emilie Cortes: Because we use the term white men and the majority of the investment world still is comprised of white men. Yep. And so it really, and you know, I can understand that because when some of my black girlfriends were like, Em, you got to get your white women under control. Why are they voting for Trump? I’m like, I don’t know that I’m like, I can’t, you know? And so the, you know, the white guys, they’re either just like, I’m not like that, you know, they have the defensive reaction.
[00:44:44] I can completely understand it. And then you also have to recognize that if you’re one, and that is 98.3% white males controlling capital, you’re still part of the problem, even if your intentions are good. And when we look at all of these, you know, these were the stated obstacles that we kept hearing from foundations, in particular, we’re concerned about the risk were concerned about, you know, they don’t meet the criteria, we don’t have enough pipeline. So Tracy and I took those away and were like, we’re gonna, we’re gonna, you know, just rip each one of these apart and go, Okay, You don’t have enough pipeline? Here’s how to fix your pipeline. You’re worried about risk? Here’s the database.
[00:45:22] Keitha Pansy: So nugget number two, rethink your criteria.
[00:45:28] Emilie Cortes: Yes. So in due diligence, especially fund managers, private equity funds, in particular, there’s a bunch of criteria that I alluded to before. You know, having a polished presentation doesn’t, there’s no statistical study saying that we’re, you know, results in higher returns, but there’s these things that we call CYA or cover your ass.
[00:45:51] And it’s basically things that everybody does. And if you do it, you think you’ll be safe because you said you did what everybody else does. So these types of requirements are like, you must have invested together previously or in this fund. So if you’re a woman or person of color who doesn’t come from wealth, How do you invest?
[00:46:08] Keitha Pansy: How are we going to invest? How are we going to co-invest alongside you?
[00:46:14] Emilie Cortes: Yup. Then there’s the expectation that if you’re investing in your fund, you also don’t need your own income, and while you’re ramping up and fundraising, right? So you need to be able to support yourself for several years without any pay and invest. That’s not realistic unless you have come from privilege, right?
[00:46:34] The works together criteria. Have you ever worked together? Have you ever managed money together, but when there’s so few women and people of color, how do you do that when you also can’t even get in a position of managing money?
[00:46:46] Emilie Cortes: So another is the minimum size. So, you know, if you’re re, you can understand it to agree if you’re Ford and you have billions, it’s really hard to say we’re going to look at funds that are 5 million, right?
[00:47:00] But there’s an average we usually hear 50 million, a hundred million, 200 million. That’s kind of the minimum threshold sizes that you hear of assets under management. So you must have already raised 50 million, a hundred million, 200 million. That’s really difficult to do. You’re trying to go out and get your first million, and they’re like, well, when you get 50, then welcome.
[00:47:21] Okay. So again, you must already come from privilege or wealth and have that kind of connection, angel network, et cetera, to get to that size. Then the criteria sometimes move. So this is, I can’t say who it was, but we’ll just say somebody who also walks by the pool in Puerto Rico told us that they were told a hundred million and they got to a hundred million and they said, Oh, well, when you’re 200, then we’ll consider you.
[00:47:46] Then track records. So how do you account your track record? Do you have to be the portfolio manager? Can you be somebody who’s making investment decisions? If you leave, can you port your track record? Oh, you can’t? Oh, then it’s like, you never invested anything. So being more flexible about how you can evaluate somebody’s previous track record, letting them port something, even if they weren’t the number one decision-maker, because you could have tons of investment, um, decision-making experience, and then they go, Oh, it’s like, you have zero. We can’t invest in you because we can’t see your track record. And then what’s the track record three years, three funds, right? And that moves around too. So if we are going to open up the field more, that is literally something that, so the first one risk, like she just changed your mind.
[00:48:33] The data is out there. Stop being biased, right? Two is then change your due diligence criteria. Think about how all of that actually creates a structural barrier for capital to be allocated to diverse fund managers.
[00:48:47] Keitha Pansy: Okay. So we’ve talked about the risk misconceptions you shared with us, how we need to rethink criteria around diverse managers. Let’s talk about confronting blind spots. Where are the blind spots?
[00:48:59] Emilie Cortes: So these are, these are things that are simply not true. So one of them is that we kept hearing over and over again. Wait, we just don’t have a prideful pipeline. We can’t sign. Where are these diverse fund managers? Right? So we kind of, you would call people on that and say, well, if your network is the same network you’ve had, they’ve been investing with or investing in, you’re still going to have this pipeline problem.
[00:49:21] And it’s not that the reality is there aren’t options out there it’s that you’re not connected with them. So we talk about how investors can expand their network. There’s VC include, which focuses on black investment opportunities, gender smart investing summit as a global movement. Um, they actually bring in like everybody governments financial institutions impact investors to focus on gender private equity women investor network, there’s a Latin venture capital network. So you got to actually start showing up and w you know, having some really honest conversations and creating safe space, especially with, you know, the 98.3% of white males. They’re, they’re nervous. They are afraid of showing up.
[00:50:04] Keitha Pansy: Why are they nervous?
[00:50:10] Emilie Cortes: They’re afraid of being the only, the only white man in the room, right? Will they be welcomed? Should they go, will they be, you know, called out? And I tell them like, so my entire career until like probably the last, you know, five years or so, I’ve often been the only woman in the room.
[00:50:29] Keitha Pansy: Girl, welcome to the world of the black woman.
[00:50:32] Emilie Cortes: Right. So like they have never had to experience the discomfort, the assimilation, the code shifting that one must do when you enter in an environment where everyone else looks different than you have never had to do it before. So it’s super intimidating. And I will recognize that, as you know, the humanity in that, but also then saying, listen, it’s actually even easier now. You can show up on Zoom.
[00:51:01] And just be that little, you know, Hollywood square there and listen in and learn, right? That the excuses are getting smaller and smaller, but that’s part of the pipeline problem. If you’re not willing to expand your network, you’re never going to see other investment opportunities.
[00:51:18] Keitha Pansy: I’m going to challenge you here? Is it fear of being the only one or fear of relinquishing or not being in the majority at the table? Right? Not being in the, in the majority anymore. I don’t know if it’s fear. I don’t know if it’s fear.
[00:51:37] Emilie Cortes: I mean, I’ve got to be a little careful here and not speak for all white men as am not one. But what I have observed is the fears being, you know, called out the fear of being the only one in the room. There’s certainly the concept that there’s a pie, there’s a pie. And if Anyone else gets a slice of the pie, their pie gets smaller, right? Rather than, than growing the pie. There’s even an acknowledgment by trying weren’t doing it right before, right? Okay. I’m going to try and open my mind. Well, that means my mind was closed before, right? So, so, you know, think, I think there’s a lot that can be there and I think it’s different for everyone. I think there’s some amazing guys out there. And I also think that, um, and I’ve talked to some recently, too, where they said it’s so hard to go up against another senior male because it’s like a pack and you’re not conforming to the pack, and then you can be ostracized, and there’s fear about that.
[00:52:45] So, you know, I think there’s, there’s a lot, there’s a lot to it beyond just, yeah, I have to give up some of my privileges. Yeah, I have to let go of my slice of the pie. I might. And I don’t know why this would be true, but you know, maybe I have to make less in order to give someone else a living wage. I mean, Bezos, come on. You could give each of your, you know, it’s a stat you could give each of your employees a hundred thousand dollars and still be a billionaire. Like just do it, man. Like that’s trickled down economics.
[00:53:16] Keitha Pansy: Okay. So that was our third takeaway. The fourth.
[00:53:22] Emilie Cortes: Yeah. The fourth is really being better than mainstream investors. And this is, again, this is why we’re picking on the foundations, right? You should be better than the mainstream investors. You have a mission that your investments are working against. The thing that foundations, I mean, all institutional investors often do is you have a beauty show with managers.
[00:53:44] It’s well known. I don’t have data on this. It’s well known that women and people of color spend a disproportionate amount of their time on due diligence, proving themselves, additional rounds, more references, right? Because of the risk misconception. But then they’ll get, as Tracy called it, calls it “ghosting,” the same thing in dating.
[00:54:04] Like you put it out there, you follow up. You’d never hear anything back. And it’s really important, really important, not only to invest in these people, not only to take its perceived risk, it’s not a real risk you’re taking, but if it’s your perception of risk, take it.
[00:54:19] But even then, you can take half a second to go back to that diverse manager and tell them why they didn’t get it. Help them improve. Was it your materials weren’t polished enough for what does that even mean?
[00:54:36] Is it one of these other criteria? How can you fix it? Is it just the investment philosophy, right? You don’t believe that it will make returns or have the impact you want or fit with the rest of your portfolio. But when you ghost diverse managers, they’re just sitting there not knowing why. And by being a partner with these managers, you can help them along with their own journey to, uh, raise capital and be successful. So that’s the main thing they’re like if your goal is to help women and people of color, and you’re not helping your managers, who are women and people of color, you know, you’re, it’s, it’s quite hypocritical.
[00:55:13] Keitha Pansy: So to round it, round out our takeaways or action items as investors. What do you mean by, be willing to fire your advisor?
[00:55:34] Emilie Cortes: So this is also considered, this is very, very controversial. Just fire them, just don’t, you know? So advisors and we’re talking about Morgan Stanley’s, boutique firms, people that say here’s how you should invest your money, portfolio construction, and then who the managers or underlying investments should be in each of those asset classes. They’re really making the decisions. We hire them foundations, high net worth individuals.
[00:56:03] Anyone else that hires an advisor does so because of their expertise and because it helps with, um, fiduciary duty, right? Hiring an expert to manage your investments seems wise. However, this is actually an atonic research study from like 2018, but your advisor can also be the greatest obstacle towards having more impact or allocating capital in a more fair way. And the way that most advisors work is that there’s a model portfolio. So your portfolio construction, or how much is allocated to each asset class, bonds, equities, private, private equity, real estate, commodities, et cetera. It shifts around a bit. Based on risk tolerance duration. Like you’re going to retire in five years, or you’re a foundation in perpetuity, right? But there’s usually a model portfolio. And then, in each asset class, there’s a list of preferred managers. So you’ve already done the work. You’ve already narrowed it down. You have a relationship with them.
[00:57:11] Like all this kind of makes good sense, right? You want to have a repeatable process, economies of scale. But what happens when somebody says, I actually want to express my values through my investments, or I even want to just make sure I’m not harming my mission through my investments. Basically, that client becomes a little bit of a thorn in that manager’s side. They have to do more work.
[00:57:35] So when you try to take your advisor along with you kicking and screaming, sometimes you’ll find one. Like I was at a traditional firm, and with Compton Foundation, I was like, hell yeah, let’s do this. Let’s think out of the box, let’s replay, replace these managers. We had to get out of an evergreen fund, and that I had to come up with a really creative solution because you can’t get out of an evergreen fund normally.
[00:57:53] Keitha Pansy: What’s an Evergreen fund?
[00:57:57] Emilie Cortes: Oh, sorry. An Evergreen fund is one that doesn’t have a timeline. Like most private equity funds, we’ll say eight to 10 years with one, maybe two-year extensions, but the funds are supposed to liquidate at some point.
[00:58:12] So evergreen never liquidates, and their evergreen green fund had a holding where there some drones, drone technology that’s supposed to help find water in developing countries. And it ended up being used for military purposes to kill people. And this is the Compton Foundation, whose mission was around peace, right? So like we got to get out of this, but we can’t get out of this. And so anyway, I was able to create something.
[00:58:38] Keitha Pansy: Your advisor had put you?
[00:58:41] Emilie Cortes: No, the into, well, They’d been put into this fund like 10 or 15 years earlier. And as I, their advisor, was researching what the performance was and what the drivers were discovered this. Whoa, you guys. They had no idea. You guys need to know this. And then I did the work to get them out of the evergreen fund, right?
[00:59:01] That is very rare. So, you know, you could spend the next five, 10 years trying to get your advisor to get on the same page as you, or you can fire them. And why I say fire them as I do not believe institutions change. If their bottom line is not affected. When clients start to walk, because they will not, uh, produce the products or the level of service, um, that the client requires when they leave, then they have to say, Hmm, why did we, why did we lose that client? Right? And then, you know, these other impact investing impact advisory firms are getting more and more business. So they’re, they’ve become a real competition where if clients had never left, there would be no impetus for internal change.
[00:59:49] Keitha Pansy: Well, I have one more question for you. Foundations are institutions. They will hire investment managers who are on the street. What, what are your thoughts? I mean, in 2020, we’ve seen a number of those institutional investment managers launch their own. Impact or value-aligned or mission-aligned funds internally?
[01:00:13] Emilie Cortes: Yeah. So two thoughts on that, one is that that’s great. So seeing these really large institutions come out in favor of ESG environmental, social governance factors in investing is fabulous because, again, there’s many trillions of dollars that they’re managing. So to at least consider this, we kind of call that financial ESG. So that you’re thinking about the financial impact of environment, social and governance. So, uh, you know, BP lost how many millions or billions of stockholder value because of the oil spill. So they’re thinking more that way.
[01:00:47] And in fact, on the other side, that chartered financial analyst Institute has now put out a paper, uh, or guidance about two years ago, saying that if you don’t consider ESG factors, you are violating your fiduciary duty. Okay. But when we’re in the Toniic community where we’re really focusing on deep impact, not just avoiding harm, not just benefiting people, but having catalytic change. ESG is really, really light. It’s just, it’s a lot of counting numbers, counting number of women on boards and things like that. Not really looking at the impact or the potential change that an investment can have. It’s certainly harder in public equities, but it’s not not possible. So it’s kind of mixed feelings like, yay. It’s becoming mainstream, and it still is just like a baby step.
[01:01:36] Keitha Pansy: But a baby step in the right direction.
[01:01:38] Emilie Cortes: Correct.
[01:01:39] Keitha Pansy: I think investors are always appreciative of actionable items, things, you know, that they can actually do. And so you and Tracy have given us five. So as we mentioned earlier, not just meant for foundations, right? These five takeaways can be implemented by any investor. Be it an individual or an institutional money manager. So, what’s next for Emilie?
[01:02:08] Emilie Cortes: Well, beyond the momentum that this article has picked up because we’ve had, uh, uh, follow-up pieces and financial news, pensions, and investments. There’s another one in the works that I can’t talk about just yet. We did a webinar for Harvard business school, alumni, and now this, and this has all happened in two months.
[01:02:28] So I think this is an area that’s really a hot topic now, and there will be more interest. And the other two areas I’m very passionate about are fiduciary duty, and I’d like to do more about the misconceptions of fiduciary duty and how it’s misapplied in a way that basically keeps people from doing good with their money instead of evil. As I like to over-simplify. And the other one is tax optimization. So yeah.
[01:02:55] Keitha Pansy: Yeah. You want me to put my accounting hat back on?
[01:02:57] Emilie Cortes: I know. And you’re in your CFP, you know, private banker hat people go like, so when, when, companies and when high net worth individuals do tax avoidance, like, let’s see, you know, it’s not evasion, its avoidance, right?
[01:03:12] And we look at the deficits we have in the government and how little, you know, teachers are paid, and their pension funds are underfunded. And that’s one example of, of literally hundreds. And you go, why would it be this wealthy, better in your hands to invest with your values? Versus being in the government’s hands.
[01:03:37] Okay. And this is the conversation I have with high-net-worth individuals that they don’t trust the government, but they’re also sitting there with all of the wealth in their own family office or their own donor-advised fund and not allocating it. So when you do tax avoidance to create more wealth than you’re already wealthy, you’re actually not having impact on the social or environmental issues. So that’s my, you know, it was kind of the next reckoning is should you be doing tax avoidance to create your own wealth or giving it to the government who provides social services?
[01:04:18] Keitha Pansy: Tax optimization.
[01:04:20] Emilie Cortes: Yeah, Yeah. Yeah. I call it avoidance.
[01:04:31] Keitha Pansy: Tax Optimization. So you pay less taxes to the government. Okay. Well, I want to let you know that I’m grateful for you, as you already know this, and I am so excited. I’m glad you said yes to the offer into the invite to join us at OneHaas. I hope that the Haas community walks away with some action items from you, from the article from you and Tracy, but also, I want the Haas community, more importantly, to walk away from the inspiration of who Emilie Cortes is and how you have truly found your path.
[01:05:13] I always like to say, Sean knows this. I’m a girl about a path of purpose, right? Into what ignites your heart every morning when you wake up, and you know what you are doing.
[01:05:25] Emilie Cortes: Yeah. Fiduciary duty, Tax optimization, Credit risk.
[01:05:29] Keitha Pansy: Tax optimization. Yeah. All that. Lights you up, gets you excited, and puts a smile on your face. So thank you. My fellow class of 2002 B-school bestie.
[01:05:43] Emilie Cortes: Yeah.
[01:05:43] Keitha Pansy: Thank you for joining us on the OneHaas podcast.
[01:05:46] Emilie Cortes: Thank you. I love you, man.
[01:05:49] Keitha Pansy: I love you more.
[01:05:50] Emilie Cortes: Whatever.
[01:05:52] Sean Li: I’m grateful for the both of you.
[01:05:55] Keitha Pansy: Yes. And thanks, Sean, for the opportunity again. And I just want to say know this was a great kickoff to international women’s month, so thank you for joining us.
[01:06:07] Emilie Cortes: Yeah, I’m stoked about it. Thank you.
[01:06:11] Sean Li: Thanks again for tuning into this episode of the one Haas podcast. Enjoyed our show today. Please remember to hit that subscribe or follow button on your favorite podcast player. We’d also really appreciate you giving us a five-star rating and review. If you’re looking for more content. Please check out our website at Haas dot FM.
[01:06:28] That’s spelled H-A-A-S dot F-M. There you can subscribe to our monthly newsletter and check out some of our other Berkeley Haas podcasts and until next time. Go Bears.