Five Questions With: Sanjay Chawla

Sanjay Chawla, chief investment officer for Johnston-based property insurance company FM Global, was recently recognized on Chief Investment Officer’s “Top 20 Corporate CIOs” list. Chawla joined FM Global in March 2018, after previously serving as vice president and chief investment officer for Raytheon Co.

PBN: You were recently named one of the top 20 corporate CIOs by Chief Investment Officer. What do you believe makes your work as CIO for FM Global stand out to earn such recognition?

CHAWLA: I believe it’s being laser focused on adding value, ingrained in monitoring the financial markets and having the experience and ability to take action at the right time and of the right quantum. Also, it’s about having the utmost diligence, strong work ethics, a strong track record – both quantitative and qualitative – and maintaining a clear understanding of what is best for the portfolios I oversee and their stakeholders and beneficiaries.

 

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PBN: Prior to coming to FM Global, you worked as CIO for large global multinational companies such as Raytheon and Dow Chemical. What brought you to FM Global and how is your role here similar to, or different than, your prior roles? 

CHAWLA: I have been at great companies [such as] Raytheon and Dow Chemical, managing corporate pension portfolio investments assets and previously served in senior treasury and finance roles at Dow. Coming to work for FM Global has been very exciting. I manage insurance and pension assets here and it is a great opportunity for me to do the best I can at what I do best: prudent portfolio investment management for our stakeholders and beneficiaries.

It has been great to work with our executive leadership to achieve so much success in a short period of time and I am looking forward to reaching great milestones in the years to come for FM Global, our clients, our beneficiaries and our employees.

PBN: How have falling interest rates and stock market volatility impacted your investment strategy and decisions at FM Global?

CHAWLA: Global financial markets are extremely dynamic, and I spend a lot of my time watching markets, equities, interest rates, foreign exchange, commodities and other market dynamics. Being vigilant in volatile market environments is extremely important in my role. At FM Global, we focus on long-term strategic actions, but having both a bottom-up and top-down perspective are key building blocks for making well-informed, analyzed, balanced decisions when necessary.

U.S. interest rates, while low, are among the most attractive yield markets in the developed world. Lower rates also do lead to higher valuations for asset markets in normal market environments. Volatile markets also create opportunities and create great entry levels for investors for the right assets. It is important to have the analysis and diligence down in a comprehensive manner at all times.

PBN: What has been the biggest challenge in your role as CIO for FM Global?

CHAWLA: FM Global has been a great place for me to take my expertise and bring in “pure value addition” for the company. The work environment and corporate culture are great and the company’s leadership team has been extremely supportive. My biggest challenge is having a scarcity of time, as I set out to lead a team to accomplish a lot and reach ambitious milestones. I am pleased with what we have achieved during my nearly two years with the company, and we intend to keep the momentum strong.

PBN: What financial advice would you give to businesses and individuals from your position and experience managing investments and assets at the corporate level?

CHAWLA: As a rule, I always defer to giving general, broad advice because every business, individual and their respective investment needs and objectives are different. Overall, sound comprehensive diligence is very important for the long run. In-depth analysis as well as a focus on liquidity and risk management are absolutely key.

Nancy Lavin is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at Lavin@PBN.com.

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