Barbara Ann Bernard: A Successful Entrepreneur in a Competitive Industry

Management teams need to be able to foresee industry disruption coming. So, as the Chief Investment Officer and Founder, Barbara Ann Bernard, it is her job to have a clear plan to navigate the uncertain future at Wincrest Capital. At Wincrest, value investing is the core value. The company does not change its core value in response to market changes rather, it changes markets, if necessary, to remain true to its value investing principles. Clarity over the few things that matter most in the uncertain future is what is enabling Wincrest to capitalize upon anti-bubbles and fallen angels on the long side, and debt, disruption, denial, and profitless prosperity on the short side.

Wincrest Capital dedicates it’s time to uncovering undervalued stocks wherever in the world they may be. Then, in the words of Sir John Templeton, some other time — “when people are overly excited, bidding prices up to higher and higher levels in their anxiety to buy, we accommodate them and sell those stocks we bought years before.” The world can seem like a big place, but it’s not if you know what you are looking for.

Industry a Meritocracy

Barbara Ann Bernard is honored to be among the company of extraordinary women on this list and feels that there is a responsibility that comes with this accolade: The 20 Most Successful Businesswomen to Watch, 2020.

Five years ago, when she founded Wincrest Capital, she had no idea about the need to advance women in investing. She believed that the industry was a meritocracy. If Wincrest generated stellar returns, then capital would flow into the firm.

Two years into the journey, the FT called to ask what it was like to be a woman running a fund in a man’s world. She told the reporter that she had never thought about this. Barbara Ann was busy doing what she loved to do. She asked her to give her the weekend to research the industry, and she’d talk with her on Monday.

The research shocked her. Barbara Ann learned women and diverse-owned hedge funds only comprise 3% of the firms. Furthermore, collectively, these firms manage 1.3% of the assets. Barbara Ann was stunned, but not speechless! These stats helped her find her voice. Wincrest did not have a performance problem, so she began speaking at industry conferences to raise the profile and assets under management.

For the second year in a row, she was invited to speak in Omaha during the Berkshire Hathaway AGM festivities. She met Kim Shannon there, who told Barbara Ann how much she had enjoyed her speech. Kim’s company, Sionna Investment Managers, is Canada’s largest female-owned asset management firm. She told Kim about her dream of starting her own conference — a women’s investing conference. Kim then brought over her friend, Laura Rittenhouse, who invented a new investing discipline called Candor Analytics, which has been endorsed by Warren Buffett. Right then, all three vowed to launch the first female investing conference during the 2019 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha.

When passion and purpose are combined with teamwork, extraordinary things happen. Even Warren Buffet came to kick off the conference! When asked what he thought of an all-female investment conference, Warren said,”Way Overdue!”. This first Variant Perspectives conference was such a success that the team is planning to host another one in NYC on April 21st, 2020.

Barbara Ann believes she has a responsibility to herself, and society, to speak up when experiencing ambivalence over matters that are impeding talent and investment returns. Given many studies show that female investors often outperform their male colleagues, increasing assets under female management is not a charitable cause, it is an opportunity to unlock alpha and value for investors. Increasing assets under female management or — AUfM — her favorite 4 letter word — is a goal she is committed to achieving.

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