Brad Ross knows investing. Before joining Dallas-based Pyxis Capital in June, the 52-year-old Denver native was head of sales and distribution for Kansas City’s Ivy Funds, which grew to $55 billion in assets during his tenure. But with Pyxis, Ross will be charged with growing a spin-off of the Dallas investment house Highland Capital Management whose mutual funds act more like hedge funds, investing in commodities or commercial real estate, for example, or sometimes betting that given stocks will fall rather than rise. He chatted with finance reporter Jeff Bounds about his plans for Pyxis, and how his family found love in Russia.
Why go to an alternative investment shop like pyxis? With affluent investors, (alternative investments) represents about 5 percent of their investable assets. We believe that over the next four or five years, it will represent about 15 percent of their investable assets.
WHY? Alternative investments take a high percentage of volatility out of their portfolios. Investors don’t want to lose money anywhere.
tell us about your family: My wife is Christine. Having our first child, Caroline, was easy. She’s now 11. Caroline wanted a brother or sister. But after a couple of years of trying, we said, ‘Enough of this.’
so you decided to adopt a child from russia? We wanted the quickest, easiest route (to adoption). It turned out to be the longest. But it was worth it. What happens in Russia is most kids are victims of domestic abuse, prostitution or alcoholism. The poverty level is so high. So the kids wind up in orphanages. Russian culture frowns on adoption. The problem going forward is zero population growth, which makes it tough for kids to leave.
what was the outcome? Our daughter, Katerina, is now eight. We got her out when she was just under two. It was as if, when Katerina hit the U.S. shore, she’d been with us all along. She’s completed (the family). She and her sister are inseparable.
tell us about your management style: I actually have a pretty good track record of making sure I can hire people as good as, or better than, myself. If I can do that correctly, I don’t have to spend time micromanaging everyone. I don’t think people grow or develop that way. At this stage of my career, I have a good network that I know I can recruit from, (along with) senior people who I know can help me recruit, because they know the qualities I’m looking for.
what qualities are you looking for? You can’t teach work ethic. It’s hard to teach communication skills if you don’t naturally have them. And a drive to win.
what can we expect to see from pyxis under your leadership? One of the reasons you spin out a company is you’ve made a decision to put resources into it and grow it. We plan to upgrade, across the board, in the sales and marketing organization. We’re in a mature industry at this stage. Everyone involved in dealing with clients whom we want to attract has to wake up wanting to be students of the industry and the business they’re in.
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