Heidrick & Struggles Lands Chief Investment Officer for SURS

April 18, 2017 – Executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles has recruited Douglas C. Wesley as chief investment officer of Illinois State Universities Retirement System (SURS). The organization announced last year the retirement of past CIO Danial Allen.

Mr. Wesley has been SURS’ deputy CIO since 2005 and has been with the retirement system for 19 years.

SURS is an agency in the State of Illinois government that administers retirement, disability, death, and survivor benefits to eligible SURS participants and annuitants. Membership within the organization is attained through employment with 61 employing agencies, including public universities, community colleges, and other qualified state agencies.

In a related search this past October, Heidrick placed Martin Noven as executive director of SURS. Mr. Noven previously served as senior director for government markets at TIAA-CREF, overseeing activities with state and local retirement plans nationwide. Lyndon Taylor, partner in charge of Heidrick’s Chicago office, led the search.

As globalization, change, and disruption create opportunities and risks in the investment management sector, demand for seasoned financial talent is rising. Heidrick brings global in-depth knowledge across six financial sectors, including wealth management, asset management, hedge funds, real estate, infrastructure investment, and private equity & venture capital.

State Retirement Funds Seeking Investment Officers   

In the U.S., public sector pensions are offered by federal, state and local levels of government. They are available to most, but not all, public sector employees. The field has been about as robust for executive recruiters as any other related sector within financial services ….. Here’s some recent search activity covered by Hunt Scanlon Media.

EFL Associates Recruits CIO for the Colorado Retirement Association
EFL Associates placed Amy C. McGarrity as chief investment officer of the $44 billion Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association. Ms. McGarrity has held investment positions in both the private and public sectors.

Korn Ferry Leading Chief Investment Officer Search for South Carolina Retirement System Commission
Korn Ferry recruited Geoffrey Berg as the chief investment officer of the $28 billion South Carolina Retirement System Investment Commission. Mr. Berg joined the organization in 2008 and has been serving as acting CIO since September 2015.

Korn Ferry Recruits CIO for Indiana Public Retirement System
Korn Ferry placed Scott Davis as chief investment officer of The Indiana Public Retirement System. David Cooper, the organization’s previous CIO, left to become CIO of the $2.8 billion Purdue Research Foundation. Mr. Davis, a company insider, had been serving as the system’s deputy CIO and director of public equity during the search process.

Korn Ferry Taps Chief Investment Officer for Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System
Korn Ferry tapped Bryan Lewis as chief investment officer of the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS). Mr. Lewis was the executive director of the $20 billion State Universities Retirement System, in Champaign, IL.

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.

“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 five years as expectations regarding performance has ratcheted up post financial crisis,” said David Barrett, managing partner of David Barrett Partnersa boutique specialist search firm which recruits senior and C-level professionals for the investment and wealth management sector.

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“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 added.

“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 Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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