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Family Office

Matthew Cornue is the chief investment officer at Horowitz Group, a single-family office based in Southern California. Mr. Cornue holds a bachelor of arts from Harvard and an MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Mr. Cornue was named to Trusted Insight’s list of the Top 30 Ivy League Graduate Chief Investment Officers - Part 1. He graciously spoke with Trusted Insight on Oct. 26, 2015. The following interview has been edited and condensed.

Trusted Insight: Tell me about yourself and how you came to be the chief investment officer at Horowitz?

Matthew Cornue: I have a background in investment banking in San Francisco, and London, and then I worked for Oaktree Capital in Los Angeles, and then joined the Horowitz Group.

Trusted Insight: Family offices are a very special kind of investment vehicle. There’s minimal regulation and high level of secrecy. Is the experience of making investment decisions at a family office different from that at any other institutions?

Matthew Cornue: For me personally it has been. We are a kind of informal group, and opportunistic about our investment. So we have a very streamline decision-making process.

Trusted Insight: Tell me about your portfolio. I see from the company website that you invested in private equity funds, real estate and private companies.

Matthew Cornue: About one third of what we do is real estate, where we directly own and manage those properties. And next third is allocated to other private equity funds. And the final third is our own direct growth private equity investing where we take minority stake, minority interest and growing private businesses and help them grow.

Trusted Insight: How about venture capital?

Matthew Cornue: Very limited.

Trusted Insight: Is there a reason for that?

Matthew Cornue: We don’t do any early stage investing and we don’t invest in businesses that aren’t at least break-even in profitability. So we like to invest in profitable companies

Trusted Insight: What is the investment philosophy/culture at Horowitz? How is it different from any other family office?

Matthew Cornue: It’s purely opportunistic, so we will look at many different industries. I think we are differentiated in a sense that we take an ultra long-term approach and hold investments indefinitely, or cross multiple generations and so we don’t have any near term needs to monetize assets or get liquidity on the assets so we can be ultra long-term investors.

Trusted Insight: How about your personal asset allocation strategies? What are you looking for when you decide to invest in a particular manager?

Matthew Cornue: Usually we are looking for smaller private equity fund managers, those managing less than $500 million, and people that have very clear and identifiable strategy where they can articulate some disconnect in the market or some mismatch in supply-demand for that capital or some sort of industry expertise. We are looking for highly specialized private equity managers.

Trusted Insight: How was your experience at Harvard? Does it play an important role for your success at your career?

Matthew Cornue: I think so. It’s fantastic from a networking perspective, it opened my eyes to the world of finance to begin with, and it’s a great institution to plug into from time to time in order to get best practices and inspiration.

Trusted Insight: Do you think you could still be at where you are if you went to a different school?

Matthew Cornue: Absolutely. It was certainly helpful, but there’s no hard and fast limitation if you don’t go to an Ivy League school. I just think that it gives you exposure that you might not otherwise have.

Trusted Insight: How did the experience at Harvard shape your value/character as an institutional investor?

Matthew Cornue: Well I was on the swim team at Harvard, so I think I learned a lot about teamwork from my experience being an athlete. I have to say that going to Harvard maybe opens your eyes to the global nature of the world and capital markets in ways that are very beneficial.

Trusted Insight: What is the first lesson you’ve learned during your career as an institutional investor?

Matthew Cornue: To focus on the people in the management team you’re supporting and to make a strong assessment of their character.

Trusted Insight: I see that from your LinkedIn page that from 2010 to 2013 you’re a cofounder of another company while you’re still working as the Chief Investment Officer at Horowitz. How did you balance those two roles?

Matthew Cornue: It was a very busy time in life and I had started the LendAmend Company with a friend from business school and basically it was a very intense period of life where I was focusing on building a company and also managing assets. So there was no balance.

To learn more about the top-tier institutional investors, check out Trusted Insight's list of Top 30 Ivy League Graduate Chief Investment Officers - Part 1.