Andrew Ang

Ann F Kaplan Professor of Business and Chair of the Finance and Economics Division, Columbia Business School (New York, New York)

Ang devotes his life to improving the welfare of institutional investors. "Overall, I want to help asset owners answer questions like 'How can they make better portfolio decisions?' or 'How can they match their factor risks across their assets and liabilities?'" he says. That might be enough to make your head hurt, but to Ang, he considers it a blessing. "I love being a professor. I sit around and someone pays me to think—there are few jobs like this," he says while acknowledging the great thinkers in academia who have had an impact on him. Whom has Ang been most heavily influenced by? Yale Professor Robert Shiller and MIT Professor Steven Ross, he says. "They have changed theory and practice because they think in terms of the big picture and make themes easily relatable." Ang seems to have been well influenced, talking about factor investing in terms that just about anyone can understand. "Just as eating right requires looking through food labels to understand nutrient content, investing right requires looking through asset class labels to the underlying factor risks. It's the nutrients in the food that matter and similarly it's the factors, not the asset labels, that matter," he concludes.