Sharmila C. Kassam

Of Counsel

Overview

Shar is an attorney, business professional, and institutional investor. She helps connect businesses with fund advisory and related services to drive growth, performance, and value.

With her deep experience in investment structures, market mechanics, asset allocation, portfolio construction, and asset management products and services, Shar provides clients with sage advice and practical guidance to help them achieve their strategic goals.

Before joining Michael Best, Shar was Deputy Chief Investment Officer for the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS), where she led investment planning and strategy by co-managing a nearly $30 billion multi-asset class portfolio. She served as voting member on investment committees and conducted due diligence for manager recommendations in public equity, private equity, and hedge funds. She focused on asset allocation, staff development, and transaction structuring.

 

Shar spent more than 10 years in leadership roles at ERS and during her tenure there she:

  • Spearheaded the evolution of the trust portfolio from a 60/40 model to an endowment model
  • Restructured a 77-personnel legacy investment program to operate more like a professional global asset manager
  • Advised the $2.9 billion Texa$aver 401(k) / 457 Program, a defined contribution plan, focused on the necessary evolution of investment products offered
  • Led the most recent asset allocation study targeting a portfolio of the highest possible risk-adjusted returns net of fees and designed to leverage the talent of the investment staff for execution
  • Transformed the $1 billion emerging manager program to be a model of how these portfolios can be accretive to trust returns and can be at the forefront of innovation by establishing profitable seeding platforms
  • Initiated multiple governance best practices with the highlight being an overhaul of the investment policy emphasizing the critical relationship between Board and staff and clearly defining the established governance structure

Shar also served as Chief of Staff and Assistant General Counsel for ERS. Earlier in her career, she spent 15 years in the venture and technology industry working in financial, legal, operational, and management roles. Shar has worked as an attorney at an international firm that specialized in business and securities law and previously served as an auditor for PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Shar has spent more than a decade studying asset allocation processes, global retirement programs, and risk management. She has spent time promoting best practices in the industry through Institutional Limited Partners Association (ILPA) Alignment of Interest (AOI), CAIA, and the CFA Institute.  

Honors & Recognitions

  • Named to aiCIO’s 2018 NextGen Chief Investment Officer list
  • Finalist, Institutional Investor’s NextGen CIO, 2018
  • Woman of the Year in Investment Management, Institutional Investor, 2017
  • Certified Public Accountant (Texas)

Professional Activities

  • Steering Committee Member, Private Equity Women Investor Network (PEWIN)
  • Advisory Board Member, Texas Wall Street Women
  • Steering Committee Member, Diversity & Inclusion in Investment Management, CFA Institute®
  • Senior Fellow, Center for Financial Markets, Milken Institute
  • Consultant Board Member, Alternative Investment Forum
  • Policy Advisor, Institutional Limited Partners Association
  • Board Member, Texas Alternative Investment Association
  • Board Member, Alignment of Interests Association
  • Member, CAIA Allocator Advisory Council
  • Volunteer Faculty Instructor, Women in Law, University of Texas Law School

Education

Admissions

Community Involvement

  • Ambassador, Girls Who Invest
  • Committee Member, Finance & Budget Committee, YMCA Metro of Austin
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