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Meet PineBridge Portfolio Manager Laila Kollmorgen

January 19, 2024

Watch Time 5:25 MIN

From covering fixed income to emerging markets to mortgages, PineBridge Portfolio Manager Laila Kollmorgen has extensive experience and has worked in both the U.S. and London. When it comes to CLO analysis, Laila emphasizes complete transparency. PineBridge partners with VanEck to bring the power of CLOs to more investors.

I grew up in Texas, so working in finance was not even something that really even crossed my mind.

For me, I always knew that, I could work and interacting with people and learning. But working finance was not even a consideration.

I went to college, I studied Spanish and economics. I thought maybe I would be a doctor. And then I decided being a doctor was not my path. But after graduating, I came back to San Antonio and then thought about what I wanted to do. I was working for actually a Mexican boutique. They specialized in Latin American Fixed Income. And I realized how much I didn't know, and I didn't know a lot. I did know statistics, which is why I worked for them, I built risk models for them.

But I really needed to go back and learn finance and accounting and that's when I ended up getting an MBA. So doing that allowed me to really focus on learning more about finance. Going to Wharton does that. I did a dual degree, so I have a master's as well in international business.

I worked in New York, I worked for Merrill Lynch, worked on trading desks starting my career off really in mortgages. A large part of my background was mortgages, structured products, securitizations, and even traded options. Options on mortgages swaptions, financial futures, treasuries, you name it. So my background is really quite broad with regards to fixed income, really, encompassing structured products.

But when was looking at having my son who just celebrated his 21st birthday, I decided to move to Europe, so I worked in Germany for two years before moving to London and spending eleven years in London prior to joining PineBridge.

So for me, that experience is both sides of the pond, the U.S. and Europe. Large part of fixed income, anywhere from emerging markets to mortgages, to derivatives, structure products, different kinds of securitizations.

I've had the joy of working with the team at PineBridge for the last eight and a half years and building out the business here so it's taken me all over the globe and it's very nice and exciting.

In the case of CLOs, you have a lot of investors that are coming at it from the securitization angle. So they're coming at it from ABS or RMBS or even CMBS. But those are securitizations or those types of products you can analyze as a portfolio approach.

But the way that we do it at PineBridge is that we re-underwrite the entire portfolio. We map it to our internal system. So we take all the mystery out, we take away that unknown element that you might get in a portfolio approach.

We're able to actually say “well you see there's these five names in the portfolio and we're taking a look at a BB investment”. Well what's that going to do if those five names default? What's our probability of default? So we actually do that, that's one of our stress tests. So we actually go through the portfolio and we determine what the probability of default is for every single name.

We know that a lot of other places can't do that. They don't have a credit analyst team. They don't have this database of knowing the underlying credits. So I think that for us, that's huge. It's very powerful. And so that's what interests me about CLOs is that complete transparency. You can take all the questions out of that analysis and really dig down.

And what you want to try and do is figure out what the actual value is. And I've done this for Italian non-performing loans. There's a lot of assumptions you have to make when you're doing that kind of analysis, but you don't for CLOs.

It always comes down to – invest to the degree in which you're comfortable.

I think that people, when they're investing, should invest in what they know and what they're comfortable with. If they're not comfortable, they're always going to have this sense, this feeling in the back of their mind, that something could go wrong.

When I take a look at investing, it is through the lens of my experience. It is from having managed trading desks on Wall Street and in London, managing the risk of whether it's residential mortgages, asset-backed securities, Italian non-performing loans, securitizations, CLOs, options, mortgage options, by the way, the most risky desk on the entire trading floor.

My perspective on risk and how I'm looking at something, really is because I'm bringing my entire background from that options to mortgages, to emerging markets, to securitizations on both sides of the pond with every investment decision I make.


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