Emerging Markets Debt Team

The Pillars of Our Culture

Four pillars set the foundation for the emerging markets debt team’s investment process—and align with our larger purpose of delivering strong client results.

Quick-thinking and curious, we relentlessly press onward—exploring local markets, deepening our expertise, and forging new relationships with key players around the world.

Well aware of the volatility inherent in our asset class, we take extraordinary measures to manage region-specific risks—focusing on diversification and integrating ESG analysis.

We follow a rigorous investment process designed to perform consistently over time—specifically, in the face of volatility, limited transparency, and complexity.
As investment professionals, what motivates and inspires us most is our responsibility to others—be it to our clients or our colleagues.

What Differentiates Our
Emerging Markets Debt Team

Bottom-Up and Top-Down Analysis

WHAT WE BELIEVE

We believe our robust, disciplined bottom-up and top-down research helps us better uncover mispricings in inefficient emerging markets debt. Our active approach is based on:

  • Rigorous fundamental research
  • Global macro analysis 
  • Diversification discipline 
  • Valuation focus 
  • Integrated risk management , including a proprietary beta-bucketing approach
  • Integrated ESG analysis
The breadth of our team enables specialization and regional focus, enhancing our ability to identify opportunities and to avoid unattractive risks.

WHY THIS MATTERS

The historical yield advantage of emerging markets debt over developed markets debt provides the potential for attractive risk-adjusted returns. We believe our disciplined bottom-up and top-down process helps us identify emerging markets debt with an attractive risk/reward profile, enabling us to deliver better outcomes for our portfolios and clients.

SEE WILLIAM BLAIR’S EMERGING MARKETS DEBT STRATEGIES

Dynamic Mindset

Unfazed by Uncertainty

Many of us come from emerging markets, and that has exposed us to some rough conditions. I grew up in Brazil, and when I started my career, inflation was 100% a month. We carry those experiences for life, so we see volatility as an opportunity for emerging markets investors.

Marcelo Assalin, CFA, Partner
HEAD OF EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

COMFORTABLE WITH COMPLEXITY

It’s different speaking to a Brazilian person than a Turkish person or to a Chinese person. You need to be very respectful and very flexible. It’s really about just being comfortable with all of these different countries.

Anezina Mytilinaiou, CFA
CORPORATE CREDIT ANALYST, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

We’re comfortable not just with multi-tasking, but with multi-everything. We have to incorporate varied inputs, from local dynamics to global geopolitics, from macro conditions to the micro environment.

Luis Olguin, CFA
PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

We look for people who are curious about things that happen outside of their comfort zone. People who like to be challenged. And people who like complexity, because it is a complex asset class.

Jared Lou, CFA
PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

You’re regularly waking up to a headline that you didn’t expect and need to respond very quickly to that. You always have to be on your toes, and that excites me.

Yvette Babb
PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

Diverse Journeys,
Same Destination

With 10 different nationalities across our team, and coming from varying backgrounds, we can have discussions that are objective yet well-informed by deeply personal insights.

Skilled Risk Managers

Understanding Risk

Risk management is not about not taking risks. It’s about
understanding your risks and risk correlations.

Marco Ruijer, CFA
PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

DRIVING DIVERSIFICATION

We don’t want any one or two dominant positions to drive performance. We want as many good ideas as possible to drive performance collectively. I believe this allows you to be a lot more consistent in terms of how you generate alpha.

Dan Wood
PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

We seek to diversify our exposures. We believe that concentrating too much can significantly expose the portfolios to idiosyncratic risks that we don’t want to take.

Johnny Chen, CFA
PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM
ESG ANALYSIS FUNDAMENTAL TO RISK MANAGEMENT

Our emerging markets debt team has long seen ESG as fundamental to how we understand sovereign and corporate risk, which we believe helps us deliver risk-adjusted returns.

Yvette Babb
PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

FOCUS ON RISK: GOVERNANCE + ENVIRONMENT

Environment is a big risk factor for many of the countries we invest in. They can be one disaster away from severe financial stress because they have fewer resources to recover.

Lewis Jones, CFA, FRM
PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

Without a strong focus on governance, you cannot have a good assessment of the risks you face as an emerging markets investor.

Jared Lou, CFA
PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

Durable Process

A Structured Framework

We’re trying to understand the world. We speak to the governments of different countries and independent researchers, and we translate that information into something very measurable through a structured investment process.

Yvette Babb
PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

Top Down + Bottom Up

Our investment process relies on a framework that works across regions and is compatible with both quantitative and qualitative inputs—but even when we must rely on intuition, we employ the same underlying systematized approach.

There’s so much knowledge within the team that
you cannot necessarily put in a spreadsheet.

Anezina Mytilinaiou, CFA

CORPORATE CREDIT ANALYST, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

OPEN DIALOGUE = TRUST

We argue a lot, we debate a lot, but always with the objective of getting to the right answer. The fact that we have known each other a long time, and are close, makes those difficult conversations much easier to have.

Dan Wood
PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

Our strength lies in embracing diversity, which fosters different perspectives and fruitful conversations. This allows us to reach more holistic decisions.

Alexandra Symeonidi, CFA
CORPORATE CREDIT ANALYST, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

When a final decision is made, it’s clear to everyone why we got there. There’s not someone unilaterally pounding a fist on the table and saying, “It’s going to be this way because I want it that way.”

Mariana Villalba, CFA
PORTFOLIO MANAGER AND CREDIT ANALYST, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

We believe that the best ideas should have the freedom to rise to the top. Discussions are cross-disciplinary by design, and steady information sharing is essential to our process.

Lewis Jones, CFA, FRM
PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

Technology-Driven Productivity

It takes a lot of information to manage our emerging markets debt portfolios, so we developed a custom dashboard that connects sovereign and corporate credit analysis.

The core of our process hasn’t changed for many years, but the tools that we use to manage the process have changed. We mapped the core elements that affect the credit profile of emerging markets issuers, both corporate and sovereign, and incorporated them to William Blair’s Summit platform. Data is more presentable, tractable, and at our fingertips. And it facilitates cross-team collaboration.

Mariana Villalba, CFA
PORTFOLIO MANAGER AND CREDIT ANALYST, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

Driven by Purpose

Powerful Bonds

At the heart of our team culture is a deep and sincere camaraderie.
I’m happiest when the entire team gets together to debate and
challenge each other, because that’s when I really see how
powerful this team is.

Marcelo Assalin, CFA, Partner
HEAD OF EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

A SHARED MISSION

In 2020, the team collectively made the decision to find a new home at William Blair, and taking that risk together really brought us even closer.

Johnny Chen, CFA

PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

Committed to
Client Performance

The William Blair ethos—that we only succeed when our clients succeed—is fundamental to how we on the emerging markets debt team see ourselves as asset managers. And much goes into maintaining that ethos.

Ultimately, we’re all trying to achieve a common objective. Both structurally and philosophically, our primary focus is on maximizing the risk-adjusted returns we can generate for our clients.

Clifford Lau, CFA

PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

Emerging Markets Debt Team

The Pillars of Our Culture

Four pillars set the foundation for the emerging markets debt team’s investment process—and align with our larger purpose of delivering strong client results.

1. Dynamic Mindset

Quick-thinking and curious, we relentlessly press onward—exploring local markets, deepening our expertise, and forging new relationships with key players around the world.

2. Skilled Risk Managers

Well aware of the volatility inherent in our asset class, we take extraordinary measures to manage region-specific risks—focusing on diversification and integrating ESG analysis.

3. Durable Process

We follow a rigorous investment process designed to perform consistently over time—specifically, in the face of volatility, limited transparency, and complexity.

4. Driven by Purpose

As investment professionals, what motivates and inspires us most is our responsibility to others—be it to our clients or our colleagues.

What Differentiates Our Emerging Markets Debt Team

Bottom-Up and Top-Down Analysis
WHAT WE BELIEVE

We believe our robust, disciplined bottom-up and top-down research helps us better uncover mispricings in inefficient emerging markets debt. Our active approach is based on:

  • Rigorous fundamental research
  • Global macro analysis 
  • Diversification discipline 
  • Valuation focus 
  • Integrated risk management , including a proprietary beta-bucketing approach
  • Integrated ESG analysis

    The breadth of our team enables specialization and regional focus, enhancing our ability to identify opportunities and to avoid unattractive risks.

      WHY THIS MATTERS

      The historical yield advantage of emerging markets debt over developed markets debt provides the potential for attractive risk-adjusted returns. We believe our disciplined bottom-up and top-down process helps us identify emerging markets debt with an attractive risk/reward profile, enabling us to deliver better outcomes for our portfolios and clients.

      SEE WILLIAM BLAIR’S EMERGING MARKETS DEBT STRATEGIES

      Dynamic Mindset

      Unfazed by Uncertainty

      Many of us come from emerging markets, and that has exposed us to some rough conditions. I grew up in Brazil, and when I started my career, inflation was 100% a month. We carry those experiences for life, so we see volatility as an opportunity for emerging markets investors.

      Marcelo Assalin, CFA, Partner

      HEAD OF EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

      Calm in the Face of Volatility

      00:15
      Through our personal and professional experiences, we have each developed an ability to think clearly and act prudently when unexpected, time-sensitive events arise. Hear from Lewis Jones, CFA, FRM, a portfolio manager on our emerging markets debt team.

      COMFORTABLE WITH COMPLEXITY
      (Tap photo to reveal quote.)

      It’s different speaking to a Brazilian person than a Turkish person or to a Chinese person. You need to be very respectful and very flexible. It’s really about just being comfortable with all of these different countries.

      Anezina Mytilinaiou, CFA
      CORPORATE CREDIT ANALYST, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

      We’re comfortable not just with multi-tasking, but with multi-everything. We have to incorporate varied inputs, from local dynamics to global geopolitics, from macro conditions to the micro environment.

      Luis Olguin, CFA
      PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

      We look for people who are curious about things that happen outside of their comfort zone. People who like to be challenged. And people who like complexity, because it is a complex asset class.

      Jared Lou, CFA
      PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

      You’re regularly waking up to a headline that you didn’t expect and need to respond very quickly to that. You always have to be on your toes, and that excites me.

      Yvette Babb
      PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM


      PLAY VIDEO

      Extensive In-Market Networks

      00:50
      In our target markets, research coverage is often limited. Over many years of travel and one-on-one conversations, we have developed an irreplaceable network of contacts in both the public and private spheres.

      Diverse Journeys, Same Destination

      With 10 different nationalities across our team, and coming from varying backgrounds, we can have discussions that are objective yet well-informed by deeply personal insights.

      Skilled Risk Managers

      Understanding Risk

      Risk management is not about not taking risks. It’s about understanding your risks and risk correlations.

      Marco Ruijer, CFA

      PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

      DRIVING DIVERSIFICATION

      (Tap photo to reveal quote.)

      We don’t want any one or two dominant positions to drive performance. We want as many good ideas as possible to drive performance collectively. I believe this allows you to be a lot more consistent in terms of how you generate alpha.

      Dan Wood
      PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

      We seek to diversify our exposures. We believe that concentrating too much can significantly expose the portfolios to idiosyncratic risks that we don’t want to take.

      Johnny Chen, CFA
      PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM
      ESG ANALYSIS FUNDAMENTAL TO RISK MANAGEMENT

      Our emerging markets debt team has long seen ESG as fundamental to how we understand sovereign and corporate risk, which we believe helps us deliver risk-adjusted returns.

      Yvette Babb
      PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM


      PLAY VIDEO

      Differentiated Beta-Bucketing Approach

      00:53
      To improve our ability to deliver risk-adjusted returns over time, we developed an innovative approach to viewing and structuring portfolio risk. Marco Ruijer, CFA, a portfolio manager on our emerging markets debt team, explains.

      FOCUS ON RISK: GOVERNANCE + ENVIRONMENT

      (Tap photo to reveal quote.)

      Environment is a big risk factor for many of the countries we invest in. They can be one disaster away from severe financial stress because they have fewer resources to recover.

      Lewis Jones, CFA, FRM
      PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

      Without a strong focus on governance, you cannot have a good assessment of the risks you face as an emerging markets investor.

      Jared Lou, CFA
      PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

      Durable Process

      A Structured Framework

      We’re trying to understand the world. We speak to the governments of different countries and independent researchers, and we translate that information into something very measurable through a structured investment process.

      Yvette Babb

      PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

      Top Down + Bottom Up

      Our investment process relies on a framework that works across regions and is compatible with both quantitative and qualitative inputs—but even when we must rely on intuition, we employ the same underlying systematized approach.

      There’s so much knowledge within the team that you cannot necessarily put in a spreadsheet. 

      Anezina Mytilinaiou, CFA

      CORPORATE CREDIT ANALYST, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

      Designed to Evolve

      00:36
      In emerging markets—frontier markets in particular—conditions can change rapidly. And our models are designed to capture those changes, says Marcelo Assalin, CFA, partner, head of our emerging markets debt team.

      OPEN DIALOGUE = TRUST

      (Tap photo to reveal quote.)

      We argue a lot, we debate a lot, but always with the objective of getting to the right answer. The fact that we have known each other a long time, and are close, makes those difficult conversations much easier to have.

      Dan Wood
      PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

      Our strength lies in embracing diversity, which fosters different perspectives and fruitful conversations. This allows us to reach more holistic decisions.

      Alexandra Symeonidi, CFA
      CORPORATE CREDIT ANALYST, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

      When a final decision is made, it’s clear to everyone why we got there. There’s not someone unilaterally pounding a fist on the table and saying, “It’s going to be this way because I want it that way.”

      Mariana Villalba, CFA
      PORTFOLIO MANAGER AND CREDIT ANALYST, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

      We believe that the best ideas should have the freedom to rise to the top. Discussions are cross-disciplinary by design, and steady information sharing is essential to our process.

      Lewis Jones, CFA, FRM
      PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

      Technology-Driven Productivity

      It takes a lot of information to manage our emerging markets debt portfolios, so we developed a custom dashboard that connects sovereign and corporate credit analysis.

      The core of our process hasn’t changed for many years, but the tools that we use to manage the process have changed. We mapped the core elements that affect the credit profile of emerging markets issuers, both corporate and sovereign, and incorporated them to William Blair’s Summit platform. Data is more presentable, tractable, and at our fingertips. And it facilitates cross-team collaboration.

      Mariana Villalba, CFA

      PORTFOLIO MANAGER AND CREDIT ANALYST, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

      Driven by Purpose

      Powerful Bonds

      At the heart of our team culture is a deep and sincere camaraderie. I’m happiest when the entire team gets together to debate and challenge each other, because that’s when I really see how powerful this team is.

      Marcelo Assalin, CFA, Partner

      HEAD OF EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM


      PLAY VIDEO

      Profound Loyalty

      00:33
      Having worked together for so long, we are committed to each other both professionally and personally. Our team members explain.

      A SHARED MISSION

      In 2020, the team collectively made the decision to find a new home at William Blair, and taking that risk together really brought us even closer.

      Johnny Chen, CFA

      PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

      Committed to Client Performance

      The William Blair ethos—that we only succeed when our clients succeed—is fundamental to how we on the emerging markets debt team see ourselves as asset managers. And much goes into maintaining that ethos.

      Ultimately, we’re all trying to achieve a common objective. Both structurally and philosophically, our primary focus is on maximizing the risk-adjusted returns we can generate for our clients.

       

      Clifford Lau, CFA

      PORTFOLIO MANAGER, EMERGING MARKETS DEBT TEAM

      Create an
      Enduring Partnership

      Our active ownership culture creates long-term client relationships by aligning with your interests and helping you achieve successful investment outcomes. Contact us to learn how we can partner with you.

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