Accomplished track cyclist Ryan Crane has won multiple U.S. National and Pan-American championships, all while managing the Stephens Small Cap Growth Fund and the Stephens Mid Cap Growth Fund out of Houston, Texas. On the bike track, Crane specializes in timed events.
"There's a meritocracy in both biking and mutual fund managing. Whoever rode the fastest in a race wins, and performance numbers of a fund defines who among managers are winning," says Crane, who in 2011 won the national championship in team sprint, second place in match sprints and fourth place in the one kilometer track race.
The registered investment advisor (RIA) employs the same skill set of focus and determination to win a bike race as he does in his duties as a mutual fund manager and chief investment officer of Stephens Investment Management Group.
"Discipline comes in when it's raining and 40 degrees outside and you don't want to train for a race. You force yourself to get on the bike. As a mutual fund manager, I encounter similar challenges with the markets, volatility and the emotions of investing but we stick with our investment process because it works overtime to our benefit," said Crane who is a married father of three children.
Year to date, the $147 million American Beacon Stephens Small Cap Growth Fund (STSGX) is up about 13.4 percent, and the $55 million American Beacon Stephens Mid-Cap Growth Fund (STMGX) is up about 11.3 percent, according to Morningstar.
"At the end of every day, I have a report card that shows our funds' returns and all the analytics that go with it. There's nowhere to hide, but if you do your job well you'll be recognized. I like that format of competition in managing mutual funds and bike racing," saiys Crane.
Crane started his career in 1994 working with AIM, where he grew a small-cap growth fund from $23 million in assets to $3.2 billion before he left in 2004, sometime after Invesco had merged with AIM.
"At AIM we were predominantly in the mutual fund business. At Stephens, we have a dual strategy with mutual fund products for retail and institutional investors, which we now sub-advise for American Beacon Advisors," says Crane, who typically rides six to seven days a week and lifts weights three times a week. "We also manage institutional separate accounts for public pensions, foundations and endowments."
The 40-year-old stopped riding for seven years after a crash in 1989 and didn't pick up the bike again until rediscovering the sport through mountain biking with an industry friend while at a conference in San Francisco. "I caught the bug again. My wife and I bought bikes and before you know I was entering contests again."
Since then it's been all systems go. With ten bicycles, Crane doesn't miss a training day.
"Being a mutual fund manager can be quite stressful and it's great to have an outlet," said Crane who has cut back his training for the time being due to a hip injury. "I have a gym in my garage and often ride an indoor trainer. I have more bikes than I care to admit to, including a track bike, a road bike, backups in case of a crash as well as several mountain bikes and a time trial bike."
In addition to his daughter winning championship bike races and his son starting along the same path, Crane's uncle on his father's side was a professional football player for the New York Jets from 1966 to 1972.
"Uncle Paul was a linebacker and special teams center when the Jets won Super Bowl 3," said Crane.