By Peter High, published on Forbes
Ann Kono wears a lot of hats at Ares Management, the $1.2 billion alternative asset manager. She is a Partner and Chief Information and Risk Officer of the company, and she is a member of the Management Committee of Ares Management. She also serves as Vice President of Ares Dynamic Credit Allocation Fund, Inc. and CION Ares Diversified Credit Fund. She additionally serves as a member of the Ares Operations Management Group and the Ares Enterprise Risk Committee.
Kono’s ability to push to other areas beyond IT can be traced to her roots in Finance (she has a BA and an MBA both with Finance as the areas of focus), and in consulting, where she became passionate about solving difficult and varied problems for clients. Her financial acumen and customer focus have served her well in building an IT team that adds to both the top and bottom lines of the company. By having responsibility for innovation activities while also serving as the company’s first ever risk officer, she helps ensure the company balances both perspectives well.
During her more than ten years with Ares, she has helped usher in remarkable growth, moving the company an order of magnitude forward from a revenue perspective, and ensuring that technology remains modern, reliable, and flexible. She shares her perspectives on her journey, the many hats she wears, and more in this interview.
Peter High: Ann, you are a Partner, the Chief Information Officer, and the Chief Risk Officer at Ares Management. Please describe your responsibilities.
Ann Kono: My responsibilities have evolved over my last ten years at Ares. I started off managing technology and then quickly took over the investment operations functions. My risk responsibilities began about seven or eight years ago, when we developed an enterprise risk function during the financial crisis. We started with operational risk to create the business resilience that was needed for a large-scale multinational firm. Then, we added information risk, which encapsulates information security and cybersecurity. Finally, we added investment risk, which is core to our offering.
In the last three years, I have also taken on responsibility for what we call the “middle office,” which is the bridge between our investment professionals and our operations professionals. Within our industry, the role of the middle office is to enable the transition of assets between the two parties that are buying and selling transactions and assets within the marketplace.
My most recent set of responsibilities resulted from us brainstorming how to optimize high scale, high volume, operational processes. We developed a group called Global Shared Services. The first function within that is Accounts Payable. As we begin to talk, you will see how technology enables all the functions within this group and how we leverage technology to make these functions more efficient.
High: What is the rationale of having IT and risk together?