Marina Lewin is grateful to have studied both for her bachelor’s degree in New York, and at a college whose graduates she now mentors through the Athena Leadership Programme. Her first degree was taken at Barnard College, a womens’ college that is part of, and located opposite, Columbia University. This college had the benefit of being smaller and had a liberal arts curriculum. The academic environment, combined with the advantages of being in New York City – one of which was a tremendous spectrum of internship opportunities that gave Lewin her first taste of Wall Street, as well as broader experiences such as a spell at Amnesty International – offered an extraordinary experience. After some brief work experience, Lewin enrolled in New York University’s full-time MBA programme in Finance, preparing her for a banking career.
She then spent 13 years at J.P. Morgan. This organisation provided “a wonderful range of experience in loan, treasury and custody, operations,” she says. The Treasury role was in support of the firm’s capital, rather than supporting third-party assets, and had “a terrific evolving culture, very familiar with lots of interesting, entrepreneurial people”. This business also turned out to be a fertile breeding pool for future hedge fund managers, with one example being Lewin’s fellow Barnard alumnus Amy Lai, now at Gottex.
Lewin’s next chapter, at Bankers Trust (later bought by Deutsche Bank) gave her “great experience in running an accounting operation”, and she was also charged with a major project integrating the Nations Bank institutional trust business into Bankers Trust. That involved co-coordinating among multiple clients and offices and the integration of technology platforms – followed by “projects which consist of integration and consolidation of people and services”.
When Lewin re-joined The Bank of New York in 2000, she was re-united with former colleagues from her J.P. Morgan days – as BNY had by then acquired that unit. Beginning in 2002, Lewin was a leader as part of the founding of Alternative Investment Services, as BNY undertook a growth and acquisition strategy for alternative managers.
BNY Mellon “offers a comprehensive suite of services to hedge fund managers, funds of funds, and private equity firms,” says Lewin, which provide core prime custody and administration services as well as operational infrastructure and regulatory support, and to provide services which support enhanced transparency requirements. In addition, BNY Mellon offers a suite of value-added solutions in capital markets – foreign exchange, Pershing Prime Services, liquidity solutions, and collateral support among them. As such, BNY Mellon “goes far beyond the traditional role of custodian or administrator, looking at the full range of solutions for our customers in support of Dodd Frank and AIFMD, among the long list of regulatory transformation globally.” Taking reporting as one example, BNY Mellon has devised a product specifically designed to help clients comply with the SEC Form PF reporting requirements. Via its partially owned affiliate Hedgemark, BNY Mellon can also offer a solution to support the Open Protocol reporting requirements, formerly known as OPERA, that are being widely adopted by many pension funds, endowments, foundations and some regulators.
Regulations are an important area where BNY Mellon can help clients, having been “very focused on the AIFMD in Europe”, and the new rules on depositaries are just one example. BNY Mellon is already a depositary for UCITS funds, UK investment trusts and German funds – indeed it is one of the largest UCITS service providers in Europe. Lewin admits that the new liabilities for depositaries are a fresh challenge to tackle, and says, “BNY Mellon is working with partners to ensure a solution within the regulations to support our clients.” It seems that a delicate balancing act needs to be struck to keep the depositary offering in line with BNY Mellon’s own risk parameters, whilst also being consistent with both the spirit and the letter of the regulations. Lewin argues that the strict liability for depositaries has to increase costs, because it imposes additional direct and risk-related costs onto depositaries. Over time, however, Lewin thinks the cost of depositary services could stabilise, and she also expects that clients will gradually appreciate the value they are getting from their depositaries.
Outsourcing is another core capability where BNY Mellon, by taking over middle and back office functions, can release asset managers to focus more time on managing their client’s portfolios. “Hybrid structures” are an additional special area of expertise, with this being the term BNY Mellon uses to describe private equity funds and distressed or credit securities investing being wrapped into a private equity structure. These types of funds need specialised administration, custody and accounting, and loan servicing, to handle capital calls, distributions, waterfalls and other unique features. Lewin sees particularly strong interest in this type of structure from Europe.
Since arriving at BNY in 2000, Lewin identifies three senior BNY Mellon colleagues who have all been “terrific to work with and strong mentors”. They are Jeffery Bieselin, a managing director who has spent more than 30 years at BNY Mellon; Brian Ruane, a former CEO of BNY Mellon Alternative and Broker-Dealer Services and now executive vice president and head of derivatives clearing, US tri-party services and prime brokerage broker-dealer and advisor services, and most recently Samir Pandiri, CEO of asset servicing. She also thanks the entire BNY Mellon alternatives team – and believes she has been lucky to been a part of that special team since its inception. Lewin also feels “very special” to be part of the group of women in hedge funds who are real leaders, and thinks hedge funds as an industry have always been very focused on merit and “put a premium on capability, hard work and innovation”. Lewin is “always very excited by the level of support that BNY Mellon offers its employees,” who span all dimensions of diversity. This results in “a very diverse, empowered workforce”.
As a global company, BNY Mellon supports charitable activities all around the world. A recent example came after the tragic events in Boston this April, when BNY Mellon was “very active in supporting the folks involved”. Having spent a year at the London office, Lewin knows that the bank is very active in "encouraging individuals to give back,” outside the US as well.
• Graduated from Barnard College.
• Received her MBA in Finance from New York University.
• Previously Lewin led the Global Sales and Relationship Management teams for BNY Mellon’s alternative investment services business.
• With J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank prior to joining BNY Mellon and had a variety of roles in operations management, product management and product development. She also has extensive experience as a senior manager for key business integration projects.
• A frequent speaker at industry events and with the media. She spearheaded the white papers “Institutional Demand for Hedge Funds: New Opportunities and New Standards” (Parts I and II), “The Hedge Fund of Tomorrow: Building an Enduring Firm”, in conjunction with Casey, Quirk & Associates, as well as “Private Equity Faces the Future: Candid Views from the Market.”
• Lewin also currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Athena Leadership Program at Barnard College.
Marina Lewin was selected as one of The Hedge Fund Journal's 50 Leading Women In Hedge Funds 2013.