In BBH’s profile series, “UpClose,” we provide a professional and personal glimpse into BBH’s leaders. Through candid conversation, we learn more about how they think on varied topics -- everything from instilling BBH culture in their work and with their teams, to maintaining perspective and sense of humor in any situation.
In this installment, we feature an interview with BBH Partner, Justin Reed, Deputy Chief Investment Officer in Private Banking’s Investment Research Group and recent recipient of the Best Citizen award at the 2023 Allocator Prizes, celebrating the best and brightest in institutional investing. In the interview, he discusses his role with BBH, how collaboration, transparency and clarity enable high-performing teams, and his enthusiasm for terrible dad jokes.
A little about Justin:
Justin began his career at JP Morgan before becoming part of the investment team responsible for endowment management at Princeton University. Justin then moved to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, managing their endowments and in the process, developing a new appreciation for art. Justin joined BBH in 2020, where he helps Private Banking clients meet and exceed their investment growth objectives. Justin was named a BBH Partner on January 1, 2023.
What drew you to BBH?
“I can honestly say BBH is the only private bank I would work for and joining this team has proven to be a great decision. I believe in what we do, how we do it and why we do it. If a friend or relative asked me for advice on where to invest, even before I worked here, I would have told them BBH,” Justin says. “What I’ve found since I’ve been here is that BBH is a wonderful place to work, full of smart people who are passionately committed to delivering outcomes that are in the best interests of clients. To enjoy where you work, it’s important to find a place that matches your values and values your skills. BBH does this for me and that’s why it really works and why I love what I do,” he says.
What drives you in your role?
“I’m very fortunate to love what I do. I thrive on the process of investment research, but it has its challenges. How we go about putting together client advice to generate great returns, considering their risk appetite, goals and objectives takes a lot of work. What we do requires a variety of disciplines to come together to create great client outcomes. From an investment perspective, we must utilize statistics and quantitative data analysis, thoughtful questioning and research, and behavioural finance to understand the mistakes other investors may make. Fortunately, I’m a big fan of all these disciplines, especially quantitative analysis, as I love working with numbers and data. It’s a common language that transcends the spoken word to tell a story and for me, that is exciting,” Justin says.
How would you describe your leadership style?
“I like to think my team sees me more as a coach -- someone who sets the priorities, listens to what the team has to say, checks in regularly to manage expectations, is a helpful resource for getting things done, who is invested in their success and creates a good environment in which they can do great work,” Justin says. “I suspect my team would also tell you I’m very good at telling bad Dad jokes. It’s true, my jokes could use a little work, but I like a fun, collaborative atmosphere and while what we do is serious, not everything has to be.”
How are you positioning your team for success?
“I believe in transparency and clarity. I like my team to be clear on goals and objectives for the short, medium, and longer term and I like those to match, where possible, with my teams’ career aspirations. Their development and progress are as important to me as my own,” Justin says. “I talk with each member of my team as they need, but we have scheduled catch ups every month where we talk about anything they want to cover. Usually, it’s related to work, but sometimes my team members use that time to share what’s going on in their life outside of work, which is fantastic. For me this is more about listening. I find this very useful in making sure we’re aligned on their career goals and objectives, the work they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and that we have a shared understanding of the outcomes needed. When people are clear on why we’re doing something, can discuss their role in that, and are trusted to deliver, that’s going to be a successful team. In taking this time to talk, I hope they also know I’m here for them both professionally and personally,” he says.
How do you strike a balance between work and your personal life?
“I do work hard, there’s no doubt about that. If that means working late and catching up on things over the weekend, that’s what I do. But I’m very clear with my team that just because this works for me doesn’t mean it has to work for them -- boundaries are important. Unwinding and switching off is vital to being able to bring your best self to work,” Justin says. “I also value my down time. I have three young children and they aren’t really interested in how my day went. They just want their dad to be present and I love the time we spend together as a family. I’m excited to watch them grow and find their own passions -- it gives me such satisfaction and a real hope for the future. Life is busy, so when my wife and I get the occasional chance to sit and talk, just the two of us, it’s fantastic.”
What advice would you have for someone looking to step into a leadership role?
“I admit, when I first started managing people, I thought my role was to act in a certain way -- tell people what to do, talk a lot, delegate, those sorts of things. So, I probably owe my first direct reports a bit of an apology for that experience,” Justin says. “What I’ve learned is that being an effective leader is more about listening, empowering, and collaborating, among other things. You don’t have to know everything -- in fact you won’t and that’s okay. There will be rough patches and how you manage expectations and engage with your team during this time will influence their experience. Bring them in, consult, discuss, gather all the information available and agree together how you’ll work through this. It’s human nature to want to be involved, so the more people have a chance to influence the plan, the more motivated they will be to make it happen.”