PBHFA Treasurer and Secretary Dr. Anna Pomeranets with Managing Director and Founder David Goodboy
By Oliver Estreich
Last week, over 100 members of the regional investment community gathered in West Palm Beach, Florida to discuss financial markets, train-rail expansion, and philanthropy at The Palm Beach Hedge Fund Association’s first event of the season, co-hosted with Virgin Trains USA, an affiliate of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.
The Association, which investor David Goodboy founded in 2013 to connect hedge funds, private equity firms, investment bankers, and academics, has grown to over 1650 members.
“As the regional community continues to expand, our goal is to be at the center of it,” Mr. Goodboy told CorpGov in an interview during the event. “It’s a privilege to bring everyone together and create a tight network for sharing business and investing ideas, making introductions, and encouraging each other to participate in charitable causes.”
The Association hosts regular events from the fall through spring, not only in Palm Beach but also in regional cities such as Miami and even a recent forum in Monaco aimed at members who summer in Southern Europe. In April, the Association hosted an event at the Four Seasons Palm Beach, where financial technology company SS&C Founder and CEO Bill Stone gave the keynote speech.
At the latest event, a presentation was made to encourage participation in Take Stock in Children Palm Beach. The nonprofit helps low-income students in the area break the cycle of poverty though mentoring and scholarships. CorpGov recently interviewed Nancy Stellway about the qualities that make a good board director at a nonprofit versus a corporation.
Last week, attendees learned about multiple ways to contribute to Take Stock in Children. One is to spend time mentoring a high school student to prepare him or her for college. Such a mentorship generally requires sessions twice a month or 15 times per school year, though it’s possible for two mentors to share responsibility for one student.
It’s also possible to fund a two-year education with a donation of just $4,000. For students seeking a full university degree, a four-year education can be sponsored for $8,000.
Attendees discussed some staggering statistics on Take Stock in Children’s impact. Some 98% of the program’s students graduate from high school; 96% enroll in college; and 74% graduate from college – a rate five times higher than the national average, according to Take Stock in Children.
Another speaker at the event was Patrick Goddard, President of Virgin Trains USA, which co-owns the Brightline high speed rail between West Palm Beach and Miami with majority investor Fortress Investment Group, a unit of Masayoshi Son’s Softbank.
Mr. Goddard discussed Virgin Trains USA’s ambition to bring back efficient, profitable high-speed passenger rail to the U.S. While there are listed railroad companies such as CSX Corporation and Union Pacific Corporation, the U.S. government owns substantially all of the country’s passenger rail and most of it loses money.
Mr. Goddard explained that a rail like the Brightline, which will soon expand to Orlando, can generate $500 million of annual Ebitda. In addition to the Florida line, Virgin Trains USA is working on a rail to connect Las Vegas and Los Angeles.