Heidrick & Struggles Selected by Washington State Investment Board to Find Chief Investment Officer

June 21, 2019 – Executive search, leadership consulting and culture shaping services provider Heidrick & Struggles has been retained by the $135 billion Washington State Investment Board (WSIB) to lead its search for a new chief investment officer.

Gary Bruebaker is retiring at the end of the year after 40 years in the investment business. Lyndon Taylor, partner in charge of Heidrick’s Chicago office, is leading the assignment. Both internal and external candidates will be considered.

WSIB’s executive director, Theresa Whitmarsh, is responsible for the search process and the hire. “Her goal and that of the recruiter is simply to find the best possible candidates to fill some very big shoes,” Chris Phillips, director, institutional relations and public affairs at WSIB, told the Institutional Allocator.

“The WSIB will seek a successor who, like Gary, is able to combine steadfast discipline to our mission with an openness to new ideas and diverse viewpoints covering all asset classes,” Mr. Phillips said. “The role clearly requires a blend of technical and interpersonal qualities, knowledge and instincts, art and science. Beyond this, our executive director and our human resources staff will work closely with our recruiter to clearly define and refine the specifics of the job.”

The Right Cultural Fit

More details about what the WSIB is seeking in terms of candidate qualifications will be posted by Heidrick & Struggles as part of the search process. “There is no single personality type for this role, but clearly a close fit with our organizational culture and our people will be vital,” Mr. Phillips said.

The Washington State Investment Board manages investments for 17 retirement plans for public employees, teachers, school employees, law enforcement officers, fire fighters and judges. It also manages investments for several other important public funds that benefit Washington’s industrial insurance program, colleges and universities, and developmental disability programs.

As globalization, change and disruption create many opportunities and risks in the investment management sector, Heidrick & Struggles brings in-depth knowledge and boutique-like qualities across six sector teams: Wealth management, asset management, hedge funds, real estate, infrastructure investment, and private equity and venture capital.

Mr. Taylor has more than 17 years of executive search experience and focuses on leadership search and assessment assignments for executive, functional, product and regional leaders as well as board directors for both publicly-traded and privately-held organizations. In addition, he has been an advisor on leadership and management succession to clients across industries. Mr. Taylor is a member of the firm’s financial services and CEO and board services practices with a focus on the asset management and banking sectors. Additionally, he previously led the firm’s diversity advisory services practice.

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 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.

“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; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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