Gary P. Brinson, CFA

Pioneer in Global Asset Management Receives Highest Alumni Award

A nationally recognized authority in investment management, Gary P. Brinson, CFA, is the 2010 recipient of the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award. Considered among the most influential people in the institutional investing world, Brinson was founder and head of Brinson Partners Inc., a major asset management firm that represented some of the nation’s largest institutions and had offices in Chicago, London, and Tokyo.

He earned a master of business administration degree from WSU in 1968. His leadership in the field of global asset management is widely acknowledged, and he is a frequent lecturer and contributor to educational and professional investment forums.

“Although Gary Brinson’s success as a money manager contributed to his fame, he is most renowned for his intellectual contributions to the investing world,” said Eric Spangenberg, dean of the WSU College of Business. “He is credited with developing the field of international investing by questioning the conventional wisdom that international investing was ‘too risky.’”

Brinson received the CFA Institute’s highest honor, the Award for Professional Excellence, whose previous winners include John Bogle, founder and retired CEO of Vanguard, Sir John Templeton, founder of Templeton Funds, and Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and the “Oracle of Omaha,”

“The fact that Gary Brinson’s honors are on a par with those of Warren Buffet, John Bogle, and Sir John Templeton is a testament to his tremendous contribution to the money management industry,” Dean Spangenberg said. Brinson helped fundamentally shape “the way people think about risk, asset allocation, and global investing.”

The son of a bus driver and a sales clerk, Brinson worked ten years as a portfolio manager for an East Coast insurance company after graduating from WSU. He recognized the growth and diversification potential of international markets and move to a Chicago bank to start a fund focused on global asset allocation. Eventually, he and his colleagues purchased the bank’s asset management business and formed Brinson Partners, which by 1994, managed more than $36 billion in assets. After Brinson Partners was purchased by Swiss Bank and merged with the Union Bank of Switzerland, Brinson managed a record $1 trillion in investments.

Brinson is currently president of GP Brinson Investments, a private investment company, and the Brinson Foundation, a philanthropic organization that provides grants in education, science, and public health. He also serves on the advisory councils of the Financial Analysts Journal and the CFA Centre for Financial Market Integrity. In April 2008, Brinson was inducted as a lifetime member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.

“It is impossible to estimate the impact of Mr. Brinson’s work on the world,” said Dean Spangenberg. “One can argue, however, that the internationalization of investments has affected millions of lives as it has encouraged international capital flows. I can think of no one who better meets the criteria of making a significant contribution to society and bringing attention to the quality of a Washington State University education.”