Stewart: Everybody wants to find yield these days. No secret. There are some innovative ways to do it, and we’re joined by a couple of experts to talk about those today: Audie Apple, Investment Specialist, Private and Real Assets, the Americas with DWS and Mark Kishler, Managing Director of Northwestern Mutual Capital. Gentlemen, thanks for being on.
Audie: Thank you. Thanks for having us, Stewart.
Stewart: Audie, I think the first question goes to you, because it’s not obvious how DWS and Northwestern Mutual Capital are related, so can you just, before we get to the main event, let’s just talk about that real quick?
Audie: Absolutely. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with one of the leading private market investors in North America, in Northwestern Mutual Capital.
Audie: As a $1 trillion asset manager, our clients are definitely participating in the secular migration from public strategies in the direction of private market capabilities, and one of the fastest growing subsets in that world is private credit. Northwestern and Mutual has a long history of being a successful investor in that space, and we’re thrilled to be in that partnership. We announced the partnership about a year ago to identify and develop a number of private market opportunities, and our initial focus is junior credit capabilities, given that our clients have that a strong interest in yield.
Stewart: I’m glad you mentioned that because that is my first question. I think everybody’s out here looking for yield. We all know that. Junior capital is one avenue. What’s appealing about junior capital today versus public options like high yield or EMD or some other options?
Mark: The way we look at it is over a long period of time, private assets have been very attractive relative to more liquid alternatives, whether that it’s in private equity or in private debt. Since the years of the global financial crisis, we’ve had risk free rates consistently grind lower and lower to the point now where even longer dated treasuries, the 10 year treasury rate for example hovering around one and a half percent.
Mark: I work at Northwestern Mutual Capital and manage large portfolios of private assets on behalf of a AAA rated insurance company that’s got to hold a lot of debt in its portfolio. That’s a very difficult environment when base yields are that low. So even going into credit risk sectors within the liquid markets, you’ve got high yield bond yields trading at historical low levels now as well with BB’s around three and a half percent, B rated credits around 5% and going into even lower quality triple C bonds is yielding now about seven and a half percent. So, these are dramatically historical low yields.
Mark: What we’ve found, not just today, but over a long period of time, again, going into these private illiquid markets where you have to source this business, it’s difficult to originate this product, it’s difficult to underwrite it, it’s difficult to have a wide enough funnel so you think you’re picking from a wide universe of opportunities and hopefully finding the best ones.
Mark: But if you do all that right, the premium, if you will, over those liquid alternatives has been very consistent over a long period of time. And particularly now, as those private yields have been fairly resilient with these low rates in the public sector, we think these private debt opportunities are particularly attractive, both from an absolute return perspective, and more importantly, from a relative value perspective.
Stewart: It’s worth pointing out that your point about the funnel, right, and deal flow, because as Audie pointed out, there’s a secular shift toward private assets, but you’ve been in this market for many years before it got popular. I’m assuming that you are seeing a lot of deal flow that folks who are a little newer to the party may not be seeing. Is that fair, and keep me honest there, but I’m assuming that.
Mark: I will keep you honest. It’s a very fair and on the money question, because we think sourcing is really critical to this asset class. Our firm, Northwestern Mutual, has been in these private asset classes for well over 30 years. To be clear on how we source this business, it’s almost all from private equity backed transactions. We’re running a very integrated model. We consider ourselves a direct lender into these transactions. We have developed longstanding deep relationships with high quality private equity firms focused on the mid-market in a leveraged buyout space predominantly in North America but we do have relationships in the developed markets of Western Europe as well.
Mark: This integrated model that I’m referring to, what I mean by that is as an LP in these firms … so we’ve been investing balance sheet money from our insurance company for these 30 plus years, as a limited partner into private equity funds. We think that’s a great asset class on its own, and has consistently generated alpha or premiums versus public liquid alternatives in the equity market. Then we use those relationships that we’ve built, those firms that we’ve underwritten to source our business from.
Mark: We’re not waiting for the phone to ring from an intermediary. We’re rather aggressively marketing our capabilities to be a partner of those private equity firms when they’re then buying companies, when they’re pursuing transactions with their pools of capital. We can be a very well aligned partner providing the junior layers of capital, because it sits below what the banks have typically underwritten in the senior secure secured market, coming in and underwriting these junior or mezzanine tranches of the capital stack of a leveraged buyout and helping that sponsor get a transaction across the finish line. What we get in return then is what we think is a very attractive asset, again, that we’ve had to build a very deep sourcing network to be able to find.
Stewart: It’s very consistent with the way that insurance companies operate on the other side of the balance sheet, which is you were here yesterday, you’re here today and you’re going to be around tomorrow, chances are. Those longstanding relationships matter. You really get to know these different groups. You’re not just looking at a deal in isolation. I think it’s important to point out just to level set the conversation.
Stewart: One of the things that would be helpful is people throw around the term mezz, can you just first explain what mezz means just in case everyone’s not steeped in the tea and why mezz now?
Mark: Sure. Just one quick note on that word relationships, because I did want to highlight that. Again, I think you’re spot on. We think it’s absolutely critical to have those relationships, not just to source the business, but for us it’s part of our underwriting. We have spent decades underwriting and finding the people that we want to work with in that private equity community, and then from their side of that relationship, working with them for an extended period of time, working on multiple transactions with them.
Mark: Listen, this is increasingly a competitive market. There are a lot of people trying to do what we do, but what we’ve built up with those longstanding relationships is trust. These firms know that we can execute. They know that we’re reliable, and also in this environment where a lot of firms are pursuing M & A platforms where they know that there’s going to be a follow-on opportunity or maybe many of them, they want to know that they have partners that will be there with them going forward, to your point about maintaining a relationship where we come back again and again and again.
Mark: So, a little detour there. Circling back to the mezzanine question, mezzanine historically was what we call subordinated debt in a private equity transaction, and that’s all it is. It’s the subordinated debt layer. It could be unsecured debt. It could be secured debt. Increasingly, a lot of this has a lien attached to it. It’s part of the bank financing package, so there’d be the first lien bank debt, which sits on the top of the capital structure, the most senior debt in a transaction.
Mark: The subordinated second lien debt would be part of that bank collateral package, but it’d have a subordinated position to that first lien debt. So, second lien debt could be considered mezzanine debt. That’s typically structured with a floating rate cash coupon payable either quarterly or semiannually but has a LIBOR based rate and then a spread over that base rate to get your all-in quarterly or semiannual coupon. Then as LIBOR rates change, your coupon will change as well. Presumably in this low-rate environment, over an extended holding period, there’s probably some upside to interest rates. Some of mezzanine could be unsecured though. That’s more the old-fashioned mezzanine. It’s still just subordinated debt, but it will be unsecured. That typically has a fixed coupon rate, again, payable probably semi-annually.
Mark: But the mezzanine word I think came up years ago and it’s like referring to sitting in a theater. You’re in the mezzanine tier of that theater. You’re not down on the stage and you’re not up in the upper balconies, but you’re in that loge or that mezzanine layer of the theater, putting that in terms of a capital stack for a transaction. Obviously, below the subordinated debt or the mezzanine sits the true common equity of a transaction, giving us a lot of support and credit enhancement below the debt that we owe own.
Stewart: That’s very helpful, and it’s the best I’ve ever understood that, and I’ve done a number of these. Just to touch on, you had mentioned where it resides in the capital stack. A question that comes to me is why not lever senior debt to generate those returns? Audie, I don’t know if that’s a you question or if this is a Mark question. I’m just throwing it back out.
Audie: Go ahead, Mark.
Mark: Sure. Starting with an unlevered point of view, we think senior loans are relatively attractive, certainly relative to the yield in the public bond market. But even with that, senior secured loans in these levered transactions are yielding less than 5% now for most of the market, most of the addressable market. So if you’re looking at private junior credit, that’s maybe picking a number yielding, all in, 12 to 13%.
Mark: Before I get to the levered part of that question, just on an efficiency perspective, one of the ways we look at it is to generate a dollar of profit. Say you start with $100 million to invest. We invest it in a junior capital portfolio. If you’re going to earn 12 and a half percent return, just to pick up a base case there, that’s 12 and a half million dollars of profit. To get that same dollar amount in profit, you’re going to need a lot more than $100 million of senior debt. In fact, you’re going to need two and a half times as much capital allocated to that asset class. Now, maybe less risky on the surface of things, maybe more addressable, but if your ultimate goal is to generate dollars of profit, you’re going to have to allocate a lot of money to that portfolio to generate the same kind of profit that we’re generating off these junior portfolios.
Mark: A segue way to your question is what if you take that same $100 million and buy a senior portfolio with leverage. Certainly we’re seeing people offer that and seeing some of our competitors do that. We think it’s mathematically possible. Now, the availability of that leverage from facility providers may be fleeting. It may not be always there over the life of your investment horizon.
Mark: With our colleagues in Audie’s group at DWS, we’ve done some analytical work. We think based on current market rates and some assumptions for how much that leverage would cost in terms of the interest rates charge, you need almost 300% leverage to generate a similar return from that senior portfolio versus an unlevered junior portfolio. Now, maybe you can get that. That’s a pretty stretched level of leverage versus what we’ve seen on offer in the market for diversified senior portfolios, but even if you could get that leverage to try to match the returns, two risks jump out that we’ve identified in our analysis. One is, the way I like to look at it is, investors in senior credit are enjoying a senior position in each of those underlying deals. They have a senior claim on that business and the assets in that business.
Mark: Once you put leverage on a portfolio, you have now converted that senior claim into an equity position. Someone else, now a third party lender, has a priority claim on all of your assets and you have effectively become the equity in that transaction. The other risk that we’ve identified is the risk of draw down. Most managers are going to have to put a valuation on their assets, either quarterly or monthly, and with fluctuations in the market, discount rates, depending how these assets are valued, there will be some volatility and some variability from period to period. Any lender into these portfolios is going to have a concept of an advanced advance rate or an over-collateralization covenant, such that they’re comfortable that their debt that they’re providing against that portfolio is amply covered by the loans in that fund at any point in time.
Mark: Where I’m going with that, if there’s a reduction in the value of that collateral at any point in time, that advancerate or that over-collateralization covenant will likely get breached, and that draw down to hit that kind of breach in this example that we’re using where you need about 300% leverage, is a low single digit of price depreciation, so a really thin margin for error, if you will there. Now, those breaches can be cured, but to cure those breaches now comes at a cost to the investor in that portfolio. The simplest way to cure that default is to inject more cash equity into the trade. But now you’ve changed the mathematics. You started with $100 million allocated to this portfolio. Now you’re having to prop it up with additional investment capital, which will deteriorate your ultimate returns.
Mark: The other way to cure that problem would be to sell assets out of that portfolio until that leverage ratio is back in compliance. Now, presumably you’re selling those assets at an inopportune time when valuations are low. So, either way you look at it, a risk to the investor and a likely lower than base case return is a result of that. So again, a long-winded answer, but we think it’s mathematically possible on paper to replicate the returns of junior capital by levering a senior portfolio, but we think there are significant risks in doing so.
Stewart: The conversion of your position into an equity position is a really interesting point that I had never considered, to be honest with you, so I thank you for that. Just going back a question, I skipped one, how do you think about diversification in a junior capital portfolio?
Mark: Sure. So the short answer is, we think diversification’s extremely important. Listen, so junior capital the way we construct portfolios for our insurance company parent, again, this is all sourced from private equity-backed transactions, we buy a lot of cash pay junior debt, which we were talking about earlier, the mezzanine debt. It could be floating rate, it could be fixed rate. That’s two thirds of what we do year in, year out.
Mark: We also buy some holdco PIK securities where we’re not earning cash interest, but we’re making ultimately a higher return by buying those investments, where our interests or dividends accrue over a period of time until we’re either refinanced or that company is sold and our securities are redeemed. Then we will occasionally buy small pieces of co-invest equity that we attach alongside these debt securities if we’re underwriting these, and we think the equity story is particularly attractive. This laid it out, because that’s what we consider to be junior capital, these very diversified portfolios across asset type, cash paid junior debt being the ballast to that portfolio, and then smaller amounts of these holdco PIK securities and a very small amount of equity.
Mark: Given our funnel, given our sourcing network, given that we work with roughly a hundred private equity sponsors globally, and again, for us globally is North America and Western Europe, we’re sourcing between 400 and 500 unique investment opportunities on an annual basis. We’ve got the balance sheet of a AAA rated insurance company with 250 billion of assets to deploy, so we can be a very material underwriter of these opportunities when we take down large positions. With that, with that big deal funnel, while being very selective, we can construct very diversified portfolios. On an annual basis, we’re booking between 25 and 35 new platform junior capital. So over an extended period of time, four or five years, for our insurance company parent, we’re building portfolios that have well over a hundred investments in those portfolios.
Mark: It’s really one of the lessons learned over the years. While we do have some equity upside, and that’s why I raised that point on the small equity, this is not a private equity portfolio. This is a private debt portfolio where that upside is limited. It’s somewhat capped. Really what we’re trying to capture is the yield that this portfolio generates and that premium that this private credit portfolio generates versus those more easily invested public alternatives. But to capture that premium, you have to avoid defaults. You have to avoid losses. To do that, we’ve got our underwriting model. We’ve underwritten to the general partners and private equity firms we want to do business with, we’ve got a deep team of people. We source a wide universe of opportunities. We sift through that with a high level of selectivity, hopefully find the most resilient credits, the best structured deals we can find and then with that, build very big, diversified portfolios where our exposure to any single credit in the portfolio is one or 2%.
Mark: So, this is a risky business. These are not treasury bonds. Things happen. Also, we can underrate an opportunity, think it’s extremely well protected, but things change in those industries, management teams change, companies make mistakes. I won’t say the S word, but stuff happens. Because of that, we like to have a highly diversified portfolio to avoid those negative results that happen from time to time impacting our overall returns. With that high level diversification, we’re confident we can generate very, very consistent returns at the portfolio level.
Stewart: Can you talk, and you have mentioned this a little bit, but I just want to touch on it, you and Audie, either one, what are the current trends shaping the industry right now, whether that’s pricing, whether it’s structure? What’s going on specifically today?
Mark: Sure. There’s a lot going on. Again, we source virtually all of our business from private equity. There’s a lot going on in the private equity world to start with. I believe it’s part of just the overall maturation of this industry that 30 years ago would’ve been considered more emerging or nascent. Now private equity is a mature industry.
Mark: You’ve got really well defined and developed secondary funds where people are now trading their limited partnership interests in private equity firms. Some of those secondary fund operators purchasing stakes of these GPs to help them with their long term planning and business profiles, you had the advent of SPACS in the public market, which create other exit alternatives for private equity sponsors. You also have the advent of these continuation funds within the private equity world, where increasingly in this kind of environment where private equity sponsors are having a hard time finding attractive opportunities or reasonable prices, some of their best assets are ones they already hold, and they’re finding ways to hold those for an extended period of time either in continuation vehicles or raising separate pools of capital that are considered more long dated holding funds.
Mark: So a lot’s going on within the private equity space in addition to them just continuing to raise capital. I think there’s now, I saw a stat, almost $5 trillion of AUM globally in private equity market with fundraising of approaching a trillion dollars annually, so just increasingly becoming a bigger and bigger part of the overall financial world. With that, the private debt market continues to mature and evolve as well. There’s been a lot of capital flowing in over the last several years. I think it’s primarily for two reasons. One is this continued and sustained low interest rate environment that we’ve all been living with globally now for an extended period of time.
Mark: You couple that with a relatively benign credit environment for the last several years, and capital has naturally flown into some of these more illiquid sectors to try to find yield. That has an impact on pricing. Clearly more capital coming into a sector will generally drive down pricing. We’ve seen that, but it’s somewhat bifurcated, if you will. A lot of the … actually, the predominant amount of the capital that has flown into private credit over the last few years has really been concentrated in some of the larger managers. With that concentration, those larger managers now have extremely large pools of capital that needs to get deployed. They will naturally move towards larger transactions. You’ve got that competition in the larger end of the market.
Mark: In a relatively benign credit environment, you have some of the underwriting banks that would have historically underwritten junior debt now coming back into that market with the view to syndicate those investments to investors. That’s another form of competition. But what we’ve found is most of that new capital, again, is focused on the larger end of the market. Then on the smaller end of the market, you’ve got a whole host of competitors. You’ve got local SBICs, you’ve got BDCs, you’ve got funds, you’ve got regional banks that tend to focus in their backyards and focus on that smaller end of the market. Where we focus, how we started this conversation, was the description of the middle market and how we go to market and really where we’re focused. It’s in the sweet spot, as we pursue these opportunities. There’s going to be competition everywhere, and that’s going to affect pricing, and we’re in that period of time now. But sometimes pricing trends can be short term and capital flow related, as we have been alluding to. Some of the longer term trends though are, again, this AUM concentration with some investment managers getting extremely large. Part of that capital flow has been the growth of a unitranche product. That’s certainly taken some market share over the last several years.
Stewart: Can you explain what that is just for the …
Mark: Yeah, absolutely. As we were talking earlier, a typical levered buy-out transaction will have senior debt, which was historically issued by commercial and investment banks. We have the junior debt or the mezzanine layer where institutions like mine have participated, and you’ve got the common equity at the bottom of that capital stack. What unitranche effectively does is provides all of that leverage in one tranche. It takes what would’ve been the first lien senior secured bank debt and the junior debt and bundles it all together and offers that as a single loan to the private equity firm that is buying a company, so effectively staples together the senior and the junior debt into one tranche with higher pricing that would be generally offered as a senior only loan, but significantly lower pricing than the junior, trying to come up with a blended rate of return.
Mark: I think what’s attractive about that from the issuer’s perspective is efficiency. Now they can work with one lender. A lot of that money, again, is in the hands of very large asset managers with significant underwriting scale. It can be efficient for an equity sponsor, but then there’s also no tension. Now there’s no buffer, if you will. Now, all of the debt is held by one institution. While that may be efficient, a lot of private equity sponsors that we’ve encountered, that’s a point of nervousness now. They much rather have different holders of different debt tranches just to create some tension in that structure.
Mark: Also, one of the things historically that junior capital has provided is effectively a cushion to account for things that might happen over the life period of an investment, operations that don’t hum as we thought they would, synergies that are not realized as quickly, integrations of acquisitions that don’t happen as smoothly as you like. It’s nice to have a cushion in there to be able to provide support during those inevitable down periods with an operating company. And that’s what mezzanine has historically been able to provide.
Stewart: Thank you. From the perspective of PE sponsors, what are some of the key things to be looking for? More specifically, you had mentioned the amount of AUM in the private equity market, which I think the general consensus is that valuations are somewhat lofty, right? So is it more than just price?
Mark: I think it is. Certainly price matters and it might matter the most on a list of considerations that a private equity sponsor is going to be looking at with their financing sources. I go back to this word relationships. So many of these processes increasingly are fast paced, not just for lenders coming into them, but for the private equity sponsors that need access to management, the access to information, the deadlines that are required to submit bids. As private equity sponsors are pursuing their diligence, getting to meet management team, really trying to figure out where they want to try to buy a company and live with it for the next five to seven years, they absolutely need financing to get those transactions done but to make it simple, the financing may be not be the number one priority, given these short timeframes.
Mark: They want a reliable source of financing. They want to know if they’re bringing somebody into a transaction, that if we can satisfy these four or five diligence items, you can get us the information that we’ve requested, we’ve expressed interest in providing this amount of capital under these terms, that once we get to that finish line, we’re going to be good for that financing. They really don’t want execution risk, given all those other considerations that they have to deal with, again, under a very fast-paced timetable, to win a transaction. I think working with people that they have an existing relationship with, that they’ve done other transactions with, that have an experienced team that knows these industries, knows what to look for in underwriting, can create that reliable execution. Again, I think relationships are critical.
Mark: You mentioned the high price valuation environment. Absolutely the case. High quality assets are going from a historical perspective, at very high multiples of EBITDA in the current market. I think because of that most of the sponsors that we work with and have long-term relationships with have to some extent gone back to old fashioned private equity and are really looking, not just for a trade, but looking for a platform, looking for a good management team, looking for a core business that’s got the infrastructure that they can use to then go out and make follow-on acquisitions with, so increasingly are willing to pay what they know is a premium price for that first platform investment. But then they have a strategy to go out and pursue follow-on acquisitions such that all of their capital, when it’s added up, over the life of that deal will come in at a more reasonable, blended enterprise valuation multiple.
Mark: With that, it gets back to the relationships again. Given that their strategy for most of these transactions is to pursue follow-on opportunities, they’re probably going to need additional financing. They really want to know are you not just good for that initial transaction, but when we’re pursuing acquisitions, we don’t want to have to go and redo our whole capital structure, find new senior and junior lenders and really try to identify people that can be there in a reliable way on that initial platform investment, but then as they pursue those follow-on acquisitions, have financing sources that not just know the company and can move quickly, but also have additional capital that they’re willing to deploy in those transactions.
Stewart: You’ve been at this a while, as have I. What’s the biggest lesson you learned over the last 20 years investing in private credit?
Mark: Is that your zinger question, Stewart?
Stewart: It is. It is, and it only can be one lesson. I do have follow on. I do have a couple of in the Ask Me Anything category that are coming. This is still a middle of the fairway for junior capital.
Mark: Got it. I’m going to violate your one answer rule.
Mark: I think it’s really a couple things. First and foremost, it’s just having discipline in the underwriting process. Like you said, I’ve been doing this for a long time and the partners that I work with that comprise our investment committee at Northwestern Mutual Capital, we’ve been all working together for a long, long period of time, have booked almost a thousand individual transactions together. With that, we’ve looked at multiple thousands of opportunities.
Mark: You learn. You learn what kind of business models can be resilient and you learn that looking at historical results is great, but you also have to have that forward looking perspective. Is this business positioned well? Why should it continue to perform the way it has? What’s the competitive environment? What are their points of differentiation? What’s the moat that they’ve put around their business? Why will this business be resilient under the next economic downturn?
Mark: We never can predict those downturns or what’s going to drive it. But what we have learned is they’re coming. They will always come again. Every few years, something will happen, whether it’s a normal economic cycle or more recently with the COVID pandemic, something that was very disruptive to the markets. Something’s going to happen every couple years, so you really need to be choosing the most resilient credits you can find. Part of that’s just how do you underwrite? We’ve talked about our relationship-oriented business, which we think is critical, dealing with private equity sponsors that have capabilities, that we know quite well, that we can source a big wide funnel of opportunities from and then pick the most attractive.
Mark: I won’t go into details about how we underwrite. We’re looking at cash flow and proforma numbers and things like that that are fairly technical. But what I’ll sum up with is that point of diversification again. Again, given that these credit portfolios are comprised of assets that have limited upside, really you want to avoid the downside. The strongest way to do that after you underwrite the best you can is having a massively diversified portfolio.
Stewart: That’s good stuff. This is the Ask Me Anything portion of the program. I want to take you back to a day that I believe you’ll remember. This is the day that you graduated from your undergraduate institution. Regardless of the festivities and revelry that took place the night before, you are bright eye and bushy tailed in your cap and gown. Now, your name is middle of the alphabet, so it wasn’t a terrible wait. Now you’ve gone up the stairs, you’re waiting. The dean or whoever it may be reads your name. The crowd goes crazy, and then you go over to the president of the college and you shake hands, get a quick photo op, they hand your diploma, and down the stairs, you go. At the bottom of the stairs, you run into yourself today. What do you tell your 21-year-old self?
Mark: I say to that young, inexperienced, maybe overconfident, naive, soon-to-be professional, is to don’t be too overconfident. Try to learn what you don’t know. Know what you don’t know. I can’t remember which Greek philosopher said that that was the path to wisdom, and I’m paraphrasing, but that’s maybe one of the things that I’ve hopefully gleaned over the last 30 or so years is that there are a lot of smart people out there. Just because we’re also part of that group, but not everyone knows everything. There’s so much you can learn from other people.
Mark: Part of this is diversity, which is getting a lot more attention these days, and I’ve come to appreciate it. There are many people that you’re going to come across in your career, in your professional life, that have completely different backgrounds, different perspectives, different experiences. While you may have nothing in common with them on paper, there’s a lot you can learn from most of those people that you interact with.
Stewart: I love that answer. That’s a great answer. That’s a great answer. I appreciate that, especially that we don’t warn these things because Audie Apple, your name starts with A, so you didn’t have nearly as much time to think as you just got from me asking Mark first. What would you tell your 21-year-old self?
Stewart: The reason I ask this question by the way is because I taught for years, and students really value your insights. They want to know your journey and how you got where you are. When looking back and you remember how naive you were and how you thought the world worked and you find out later how it actually works, I always feel like it’s something that we can impart on paying it forward. Audie, what do you say, man? What would you tell your 21-year-old self?
Audie: I think there may be some overlap with what Mark suggested, but I think I would annotate or I would put up front you’ve really just started learning. Right? You never stop learning. I’m still learning. Just in this partnership with NMC, to put it in real time context, I’ve had an opportunity from learning from Mark Kishler who has been in this junior capital business for a couple of decades. If you can find some intellectual provocation and continue that thirst for knowledge, it’ll pay tremendous dividends.
Audie: The thing that I would tie back to what Mark said, which is critical, and I think one of the things that we appreciate about our partners in this endeavor, is always have a sense of humility. Always understand that you don’t know what you don’t know. You should tap the brakes. Here’s some other perspectives. Hubris will sink some mighty ships.
Stewart: That’s great advice. Audie, Mark, my pleasure. It was great to have you both on. Thanks for coming on with us.
Audie: Thanks for having us.
Mark: Yeah, really enjoyed it. Thanks very much.
Stewart: It’s unfair because I’m the one who always learns the most on these deals. Thanks for listening. If you have ideas for a podcast, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. My name is Stewart Foley, and this is the Insurance AUM Journal podcast.