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Josh Chmara

Generation Z: Josh Chmara

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Generation Z: Josh Chmara

Josh Chmara

Age: 29

Hebrew name: Shalom Hirsch

Job: Private credit investor

Hometown: Marblehead

Currently living in: New York City – I’m in the office three days a week, and I like to spend the rest of the time anywhere else.

Alma maters: Marblehead High School ‘11, Harvard University ‘15

Favorite food: Israeli

Favorite activity: Sailing

Favorite books: Anything by Erik Larson

Favorite travel destination: I keep a map in my room of everywhere I’ve been, and each pin on the map, I truly love. I’ve been everywhere except sub-Saharan Africa.

Somewhere you’d like to go next: Definitely a safari in sub-Saharan Africa, like the Serengeti.

Favorite Jewish person not in your family: Menachem Begin

Favorite Jewish holiday: Rosh Hashanah

Favorite North Shore spot: Pretty much anywhere right outside Marblehead Harbor, since I love being on the water.

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What is your Jewish background?

Our family, that’s one of our biggest points of identity, identifying as Jewish. That goes all the way down from my grandparents to my parents, aunts, and uncles, down to me. I think my parents and grandparents really instilled in me to be proud to be Jewish, don’t be afraid to hide that, and also be a big lover of Israel and do anything you can to support it. I consider myself “traditional,” not observant, but traditional, take it as you mean it.

How did you get into finance?

I became interested in following the stock market after my Bar Mitzvah. I quickly learned that my thesis may be “right,” but my returns in stocks are dictated by animal spirits. Recruiting for my first job, I realized credit investing was a better fit – if my thesis is right, I’m contractually owed money. In addition to financial analysis, credit investing requires detailed reading of legal documents, which I really enjoy. I started my career as a restructuring investment banker advising creditors and distressed companies.

What is your job now?

I work in private credit investing in private-equity owned middle-market companies. We provide debt financing to companies being acquired by private equity firms. Our debt financing is very similar to buying a home with leverage, like a mortgage. It’s very interesting learning about different industries, negotiating credit agreements, and making investment decisions. My role has expanded beyond investing and now includes fund-raising, structuring new investment vehicles, and managing our asset leverage facilities.

Experts say we’re headed into a recession and inflation is at a 40-year high. How is that affecting your job?

It’s a mix – on the surface, the Federal Reserve raising rates actually helps us, because we’re getting a higher return on our floating rate debt. We are constantly monitoring wage inflation, materials cost inflation, and freight costs at our portfolio companies. Our investments focus on recession resilient industries like software and health care, and for the most part have not experienced substantial margin declines from inflation. However, economic uncertainty is impacting stock valuations, which tangentially weighs on how much private equity firms are willing to pay to acquire companies. Some deals that were done a couple quarters ago don’t make sense now or are over-leveraged. I still think there are quality companies out there that you can get for attractive prices. People that do good underwriting will do well and people that went with the flow the past two years are going to get hurt.

What advice would you give to young people interested in working on Wall Street?

First, understand what you’re getting into, and understand why you want to do it. A lot of people say they want to do it and have no idea what it truly means. I’ll be honest: When I said I wanted to do investment banking when I went to college, I didn’t truly appreciate what that means, either. I think the best way to get over the hurdle is you need to network. You need to reach out to people and you need to just have honest conversations. People know that if you’re young, you don’t necessarily know what you’re talking about, so don’t be afraid to show that. Truly ask the basic questions, and try to get a better understanding of what different roles are out there, because there’s more than just one baseline role out of college.

The dating app Hinge named you one of the 100 most eligible singles in America in 2018. Is that still true?

I got an email from Hinge – I don’t really enjoy those dating apps much, to be honest, it’s not a real interaction with people. But I think they reached out to me, they have the analytics and must’ve realized my profile was getting a lot of likes or something, who knows, but they reached out and said, ‘Oh, we’re gonna feature you in this article, congratulations,’ and I was like ‘alright.’ All press is good press, I guess.

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