Michael Casey founded Portico Advisers to help build a more inclusive global economy, primarily by expanding access to capital.
Two experiences propelled Mike on this mission.
The first came during childhood visits with his maternal grandmother. While kneading the dough for pirozhki, Mike’s babushka recounted grisly stories of life in Stalin’s Russia, where state planning caused famine, and the NKVD murdered and imprisoned people as a matter of routine. Her journey from a refugee camp near Regensburg to a rowhouse in Brooklyn — and from famished dirt farmer to pudgy pirozhki pusher — testified to the transformational power of liberty and economic opportunity.
The second experience occurred in 2006, when Mike was the youngest member of an interagency team working on interior ministry and police reform in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the time, Iraq was suffering from a horrific spate of violence that was pushing the country to the precipice of a full-blown civil war. There were suspicions that Iraq’s interior minister was partially responsible for the bloodletting, and that members of the national police force were effectively operating as sectarian death squads.
U.S. policymakers had dubbed it the “Year of the Police” to emphasize the work’s centrality to U.S. strategy. But as the year passed by, Mike grew increasingly skeptical about the ability of the United States to effect positive and enduring change in either country. Moreover, when viewed in a broader perspective of state-building, counterterrorism, and U.S. national security objectives, he became convinced that the only viable long-term solution was to drive investment into the region and create jobs.
With these lessons mind, Mike left for the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) to study international economics and finance, with an emphasis on financial- and private-sector development in emerging markets (EM). At SAIS, Mike studied under Roger Leeds and developed an abiding interest in the roles that private equity, venture capital, and long-term investment could play in nourishing a vibrant private sector in developing countries.
After receiving his degree, Mike consulted for corporates and financial investors exploring investments in 20+ countries. Soon thereafter, he joined EMPEA’s research department to dedicate himself more concretely to the goal of mobilizing capital for private businesses in EM. Mike authored several in-depth reports on the industry, co-managed and mentored a team of analysts, and structured a partnership with SAP to build interactive data dashboards that enabled global investors to track EM fundraising flows and transactions.
In addition, Mike and his teammate Nadiya launched a consulting services business line within EMPEA that worked directly with firms stewarding $50 billion in assets, including some of the largest PE firms active in EM. Many of these firms had internal marketing teams and agreements with placement agents, but they wanted independent guidance on positioning, more targeted investor intelligence, and rigorously researched branded content that told their story in a way that resonated with institutional investors.
The work was rewarding — and the business line’s immediate traction was encouraging — but as he assessed the state of the EM private markets industry, Mike grew increasingly concerned about the consolidation of capital in fewer, larger managers. This growing market concentration raised uncomfortable questions about the prospects for entrepreneurship and economic opportunity, particularly in countries, sectors, and market segments that most investors overlook.
Mike started Portico in 2016 so that he could work directly with founders and firms that possess the courage to pursue differentiated strategies in difficult markets.
Mike is energized by people who forge their own path — starting with his wife and two sons — and he finds fulfillment in helping others accomplish their goals. He blogs (occasionally) at caseyjr.org.