Alumni Spotlight

Ali Almufti, B.A., C.F.A. ’04
Triton Makes Waves in High Finance

By Jenelle Dean

After graduating from UC San Diego in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Ali Almufti knew he had a future in the financial industry. Experiences both in and out of the classroom ignited his passion for investment and paved the way for his present career and professional achievements. Currently, Almufti is vice president and portfolio manager of scientific active equity at BlackRock. He was recently a guest speaker at the inaugural Bay Area Financial Professionals Network Reception held at the BlackRock offices in San Francisco.

Ali Almufti, C.F.A.: Alumni Spotlight

What were your experiences like in the economics department? Which faculty made an impact on you?

After getting through the intro micro and macro courses, I found the more specific classes really enjoyable. The two that I remember most were financial investments and applied econometrics – both very relevant to what I am doing today. Financial investments was basically the only course focused on capital markets at the time, and Professor Michael Willoughby did a great job of introducing us to equity and bond valuation. Although he may not know it, he was instrumental in my decision to participate in the C.F.A. program.

Applied econometrics was an upper-division class with less than ten people. Nobel Prize-winning economist Clive Granger was our professor and he was excellent. We experimented with forecasting models to predict asset valuations. After taking that class, I had a much better understanding of my interests and decided to pursue active asset management.

What was your career trajectory? What are your future professional goals?

After graduation, I told myself if I didn’t find a job in San Francisco, I would move to New York, the center of finance. I was able to find a role in San Francisco three months after graduating, doing hedge-fund accounting and basically valuing all the assets in the portfolio – stocks, bonds, derivatives, etc. There I worked with a handful of clients and learned which investment strategies worked and which didn’t. That was a time when hedge funds were still gaining assets, so it was easy for two people to form a company, raise $10 million by selling investors on their strategy and call it a hedge fund. You can imagine that a lot of these funds didn’t last very long, as their performance ended up much worse than what was promised.

There were, however, a number of funds that were run by savvy portfolio managers with stronger, more consistent track records. One of my clients was a large established institutional asset manager, and I knew that’s where I wanted to end up. One day, I asked my contact there if they had any job openings, and after a couple days of interviews, I was able to get the job.

I’ve been at the same company ever since. I love what I do and hope to continue along this path for the foreseeable future.

What are some of your favorite things about UC San Diego?

Naps on the beach, surfing and California burritos from Roberto’s Del Mar. You can’t beat the location of that campus – soak it in!

Any advice for economics students?

Try and find internships that have something – anything – to do with what you’re interested in. It’s tough in San Diego, but they are out there. Don’t stress about finding one that’s perfect; you’ll get a better sense of what you really want to do by doing something you don’t end up liking. Make sure econ is not your life. Try different things, but stay focused and enjoy your lack of responsibility, because it doesn’t last very long. I took a lot of photography classes when I was at UC San Diego and loved every second. Stay creative – it will help in any career you pursue.