Howard Tiffen accepting the Outstanding
credits his accomplishments in the syndicated loan market to simply having remained in the market for nearly four decades, but colleagues said there is much more to it than that. "He was one of the pioneers of the syndicated loan market," said Don Pollard
, co-head of the Global Leveraged Finance Group at Credit Suisse.
For his efforts in building up loan trading capabilities and serving as an early advocate of loans as an asset class, Tiffen has been awarded Credit Investment News
' 2009 Outstanding Contribution Award.
Tiffen, who retired as a managing director and senior advisor at Van Kampen Investments
last fall, has gained tremendous respect from his colleagues for shaping loan syndication. He started his career in 1969 with Barclays Bank in St. Thomas. Later, in London, Tiffen worked with U.K. banks on leasing partnerships. In 1974 he moved to Hong Kong to join HSBC
's investment banking subsidiary, Wardley, then focused on investment banking at Wells Fargo
in Hong Kong.
In 1982, Tiffen joined Continental Bank
, where the loan trading market got its start and the careers of scores of loan traders were launched. After spending time with the bank in London and working on some of the early structures for collateralized loan obligations and the trading of emerging market debt, Tiffen came back to Continental in Chicago in 1990.
In 1992, he moved to a new effort to finance and build trading relationships with the money management industry, looking to bring nonbank investors into loans. He eventually joined one of those money management firms, Pilgrim Funds
, in 1995. His involvement with the CLO market re-emerged in this period as the firm acted as managers of the debt component for several of Mass Mutual
's early forays into that market.
While at Pilgrim, Tiffen was a senior portfolio manager for its senior loan funds and president of Pilgrim Prime Rate Trust. Through 1999, Tiffen grew Pilgrim's share of the loan market from $900 million to $3 billion.
He then moved to Van Kampen's retail-focused loan group in 1999. Tiffen noted that starting at Van Kampen then and finishing under the Morgan Stanley umbrella in 2008, he started out in the toughest credit environment since the early 1970s and ended in the worst credit environment since the 1970s. He said he spent the early years at Van Kampen concentrating on portfolio issues and capitalizing on the opportunities in the distressed arena, resulting in a record-making run in terms of returns. After 2003, Tiffen's team converted these successes into a significant expansion of the franchise with new funds launched in the retail and institutional sectors, more than doubling assets under management over that period. He began to phase out just before the liquidity issues and the collapse of the CLO market began to take place.
Tiffen is exceptionally modest when speaking of his contributions to the loan market. "What I've been able to do is help a lot of investors, both in the retail and institutional arena, understand the asset class and become comfortable with it," he said.
He is more interested in speaking of the people he worked with over the years and what they accomplished together. "I have definitely benefited from the vision and creativity of hundreds of others," he said. "I am thrilled to have been involved in the loan market during its most creative phase."