Post-Transition, a Tactical PM Seeks a Strategic Partner
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Thursday, February 4, 2021

Post-Transition, a Tactical PM Seeks a Strategic Partner

A transgender portfolio manager who is a veteran liquid alternatives entrepreneur is hunting for a strategic partner.

Brin Cunningham, based in the Denver area, runs a short-term tactical equity strategy, implemented with listed futures. She's been managing the strategy, "in one form or another," for more than a decade.

"It's multiple strategies combined into one portfolio," Cunningham tells MFWire. "My goal is to try to keep up with the market when it's going up, but exceed performance when we're having downturns."

Now Cunningham aims to find an ally to team up with.

"At this point in my life, I just want to manage money," Cunningham says. "I'm pretty open to the type of structure [of the partnership]."

Cunningham puts her strategy's strength in the context of the current market environment, as she worries that "we're in for a pretty big correction," hence the importance of downside protection as a piece of investors' equity portfolios.

"I have a great strategy," Cunningham says. "It has produced, and it will produce, the numbers ... It's run by a woman, owned by a woman."

Brin Cunningham (then Brian) started in financial services in the early 1980s. In 1996, she co-founded an investment consulting firm, Innovest Portfolio Solutions. In 2001, she founded Trail Ridge Capital, building portfolios out of hedge funds, and in 2007 she left Innovest and bought out her partners at Trail Ridge.

In 2009, Tom Florence, a veteran of the mutual fund side of the industry, invested in Trail Ridge. The next year, the firm rebranded as 361 Capital, with Florence as CEO and Cunningham as president and chief investment officer, and they entered the liquid alts space by launching the firm's first mutual fund.

Cunningham left 361 in 2014, the year a private equity firm bought a minority stake. Later, Cunningham ran an RIA, Synergie Capital Management.

Cunningham transitioned after leaving 361.

"It was hard," Cunningham says. "One of the hardest things was picking up the phone and calling people I knew and saying, 'Hey, guess what?' I'm much more comfortable with it today."

Yet Cunningham says the change has offered her "an interesting comparison."

"I still kind of get looked down on, whenever I walk into a boardroom," Cunningham says. "It seems like my IQ automatically drops by 20 or 30 points just because I'm a woman."

When it comes to opportunities for women, people in the LGBTQ community, and other minorities in the industry, that's "been talked about a lot," Cunningham says.

"I'm not sure how much it has been acted on," Cunningham adds. "It's good to start hearing about it, but it would be nice to see more action."

For example, Cunningham sees mutual fund boards and firm ownership as other industry areas in need of a diversity boost. She's looking to serve on fund boards herself, in addition to teaming up with a strategic partner for her investment strategy.

"I love managing money. I was set to retire a number of years ago, and retirement just hasn't suited me well," Cunningham says. "I thought it was time to do something different, play with my dogs and just try to enjoy life, but there's only so much of that you can do before you really start going a little stir crazy."

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