October 20, 2023 – Following a national search, David Barrett of David Barrett Partners recently assisted in the recruitment of Nancy Orr as vice president for investments and chief investment officer of Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. She will succeed Jay Flaherty, who joined Mott in 2007 and will remain at the foundation until he retires in January 2024 to aid in a smooth transition. “We’re excited that Nancy Orr has agreed to lead our investment team,” said Ridgway White, president and CEO of Mott Foundation. “She combines experience as a CIO and a passion for investing with equal enthusiasm about advancing the foundation’s mission of promoting a just, equitable and sustainable society. I’m confident Nancy is the right person to help position the foundation as we prepare to enter our second century of grantmaking.”
Ms. Orr has over 20 years of institutional investment experience, spanning both taxable and tax-exempt capital. She most recently served as CIO of Fiduciary Counselling Inc. in St. Paul, MN, where she led the investment program for an $11 billion registered investment advisor serving a single, multigenerational family.
Prior to that, Ms. Orr worked at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, rising from senior business development analyst working with Mayo Financial Services to senior investment officer with Treasury Services. In that post, she managed both a $1.8 billion multi-strategy hedge fund portfolio and a $1.4 billion real asset portfolio.
In her new position with Charles Stewart Mott, Ms. Orr will continue to build and enhance an innovative and high-performing investment portfolio under guiding principles established by the foundation’s investment committee.
“I am truly honored to be selected to serve the Mott Foundation as its chief investment officer,” said Ms. Orr. “I believe in the foundation’s mission and the impact it achieves for the communities it serves globally. I look forward to contributing my expertise alongside the talented team here to maximize returns that will help further the foundation’s charitable goals.”
Automotive pioneer Charles Stewart Mott established the private, charitable foundation that bears his name in 1926 in Flint, MI. The organization supports and works with organizations in Flint and communities around the world to promote a just, equitable and sustainable society. The foundation makes grants through four programs: Civil Society, Education, Environment, and Flint Area.
A Leading Boutique
David Barrett Partners was founded in 2005 by a team of investment management recruiting industry veterans from large, multinational search firms who were drawn to establishing a focused investment and wealth management boutique.
The firm has a growing practice in the placement of CIO leadership, having placed investment officers for Harvard Management Co., University of California and Stanford Management Co. It is considered among the top boutique recruiting specialists in the field, serving traditional and alternative money managers, endowments, foundations, family offices and sovereign wealth funds.
Mr. Barrett has over 25 years of broad-based experience in senior-level recruiting in investment and wealth management. Besides David Barrett Partners, he co-founded another buy-side boutique search firm in 2003. Previously, he spent 17 years with two global search firms, Russell Reynolds Associates and Heidrick and Struggles. He began his career in 1981 in equity research with Brown Brothers Harriman in New York. Following graduate school, Mr. Barrett returned to investment management as an equity analyst with Trust Company of the West in Los Angeles.
Investment Professionals in Demand
According to recruiters specializing in the function, demand for executive level, “high impact” investing talent has been on the rise, and that demand is expected to soar in coming years. But recruiters say these roles can be generally difficult to develop and ultimately recruit for clients, given their multi-disciplinary and evolving nature. In fact, impact investing roles are new to many organizations, they report.
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“It is no secret that demand for high quality CIOs across the asset allocator spectrum, including endowments and foundations, corporate, public and state plans, has increased significantly over the last several years as expectations regarding performance has ratcheted up post financial crisis,” said Mr. Barrett.
“Recruiting top talent in our space has always been challenging and, even with the ongoing advances in technology and proliferation of third-party candidate databases, it will not get easier,” said Mr. Barrett. He noted that pay was a key factor; successful professionals are paid well throughout the sector, he opined, giving little incentive or reason for them to consider moves elsewhere.
“In an increasingly competitive marketplace, the challenge for recruiters in this space will be to demonstrate they have the relationships, market credibility, and industry knowledge to not just serve up candidates, but to deliver the right candidates,” he said.
“Demand for CIOs in alternatives, especially real assets, is on the rise as firms take the lead from investors increasingly seeking assets with lower correlation to the stock and bond markets and higher returns,” said Maria de Rossi, a partner at Odgers Berndtson, who specializes in financial services with a focus on alternative asset management, investment banking and private equity.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; and Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media