Ray Kennedy, '88, was working on computers for the London Stock Exchange, not making trades, when his immersion in the world of finance sparked a lasting interest. "I was on the floor watching trading, so I got a good feel for markets - and you either like that rush or you don't," he says.
Ray had graduated from Stanford University and was a consultant for Arthur Anderson when that fortunate project placement shaped the direction of his professional life. "For the last year and a half of my time at Arthur Anderson, I was in London working on what they called the Big Bang Project, which was the modernization and computerization of the London Stock Exchange," he says.
He decided to switch gears and get an MBA, and his choice of school was clear. "UCLA was the standout in terms of finance," he says. "I knew about Richard Roll and the role he's played in terms of creating models in the mortgage business, so that was attractive to me."
The leveraged buyout boom of the late '80s was in full swing when Ray graduated. A couple of UCLA Anderson alumni counseled Ray to take a job at Prudential Capital, the largest investor in both equity and debt in leveraged buyouts. It turned out to be a wise choice.
In 1994, he helped a small investment firm with a deal that required exotic financing. They were so impressed with his acumen they approached him with a job offer. Although he had to take a pay cut and a step down in title, he decided to take it. It was another good decision. That small investment firm was PIMCO.
"This was the heavy growth phase for PIMCO. When I started, we had $50 billion in assets versus $800 billion when I left," he says. Ray took over the high-yield business in 2000 and ran it for more than five years.
Ray retired from PIMCO in 2006 and reconnected with UCLA Anderson on a more significant level. He'd recruited UCLA Anderson students during his time at PIMCO and spoken on panels for the school, but Ray finally had the time to turn his interest back to his alma mater. He joined the advisory board for the Fink Center for Finance and Investments and endowed a fellowship at UCLA Anderson. Ray's philanthropy and his work with the Fink Center are part of a desire to give back. "When you've been financially successful, you look around and say, 'How can I help the community that helped me?'" he says. "I think highly of UCLA Anderson. I think they've done a great job of positioning themselves in a highly competitive environment, so it makes sense to give back."
"How can I help the community that helped me?...it makes sense to give back."