Monday, June 23, 2014

Gordon Fyfe Leaves PSP to Head bcIMC

Janet McFarland of the Globe and Mail reports, Victoria native with global network named B.C. pension fund CEO:
British Columbia’s giant pension fund manager has named federal pension executive Gordon Fyfe as its next chief executive officer, saying it wanted a new leader with experience in global investment deals.

Mr. Fyfe, 56, has been CEO of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board in Ottawa for the past 11 years. PSP Investments manages $90-billion in pension assets for employees in the federal public service, and is Canada’s fifth-largest pension fund manager.

He will move to Victoria to become CEO of B.C. Investment Management Corp., which has $114-billion in assets and is Canada’s fourth-largest pension fund manager. BCIMC manages pension assets for public-sector workers in the province, and also oversees public trust funds and public insurance assets.

Mr. Fyfe will replace Doug Pearce, who has led BCIMC for 26 years and announced his plans to retire last August. Mr. Fyfe will take over on July 7.

BCIMC board chair Rick Mahler said Mr. Fyfe was born and raised in Victoria, where BCIMC is based, and most of his extended family is still in B.C. His two sons also are in high school and university in the province.

“We were looking for a Canadian, and not only did we get a Canadian, we got somebody from Victoria,” Mr. Mahler said. “He grew up here, and he went to [the University of British Columbia]. He wanted to finish his career in British Columbia.”

BCIMC has been increasing its focus on global investment opportunities, and announced Thursday it earned a 14.7-per-cent rate of return last year after increasing its weighting in non-Canadian stocks. The fund has announced plans to open offices in London and Singapore to expand its global investment portfolio.

Mr. Fyfe worked for J.P. Morgan in New York and London and also previously worked in France, helping him develop a global network of contacts. Mr. Mahler said asset managers worldwide are seeking out new investment opportunities around the world, and developing strong partnerships with other global fund managers is key to being included in deals.

“Gordon has had a philosophy of developing partnerships in various countries around the world, and he has been very effective in using those partnerships to ferret out transactions,” Mr. Mahler said.

BCIMC said Mr. Fyfe will also carry on the fund’s mandate to invest in a socially responsible manner. The B.C. fund has been a high-profile proponent of responsible investing and Mr. Pearce frequently spoke publicly about policy reforms to improve corporate governance in Canada. He is a former chair of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, a powerful lobby group of institutional investors.

Mr. Fyfe has had a lower public profile on policy and governance issues, but Mr. Mahler said the organizations that rely on BCIMC to manage their funds expect BCIMC’s commitment to responsible investing to continue.
Don Curren and Ben Dummet of the Wall Street Journal also report, British Columbia Investment Management Names New CEO:
British Columbia Investment Management Corp., one of several big Canadian pension funds that have become high-impact players in global markets, said Gordon Fyfe is taking over as chief executive and chief investment officer.

Mr. Fyfe comes from another big Canadian fund, the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, where he served as president and CEO.

BC Investment Management, which has $114 billion Canadian dollars ($106 billion) under management, invests on behalf of public-sector pension plans, public trusts and insurance funds.

Mr. Fyfe takes over at BC Investment Management on July 7 from Doug Pearce, who was at the helm for more than 20 years.

"His experience is crucial as (BC Investment Management) seeks to expand its global reach and continues to implement its current business strategy," the fund's chairman, Rick Mahler, said in a release.

PSPB said in a news release that its board will enact a "pre-established CEO succession plan" and that further details will be announced soon.

The new leadership at BC Investment Management is the latest in the changing of the guard this year at some of Canada's biggest pension funds.

Michael Latimer took the helm of Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, which oversees C$65.1 billion in pension assets, in April from Michael Nobrega after servicing as chief investment officer. In January, Ron Mock was appointed chief executive of Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, succeeding Jim Leech. Mr. Mock had previously headed fixed income and alternative investments for the C$140.8 billion fund.

Canada's biggest pension funds have become some of the biggest and most agile investors on the global stage, diversifying their traditional exposure to public equities and bonds into real estate, infrastructure and private equity in a bid to augment long-term returns that match up with their pension liabilities.

The BC pension fund doesn't have as high a profile as some of Canada's biggest funds, led by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Quebec's Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec and Ontario Teachers'.

Still, the fund is an active investor in alternative investments, including exposure to timber production, water and wastewater production, energy transmission and real estate.

A spokeswoman for the BC pension fund couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
You can read the press release bcIMC's put out here as well as the press release PSP Investments put out here.

So what can I say about Gordon Fyfe? I met Gordon at the Caisse back in 2002 when I was working with Mario Therrien's hedge fund group allocating money to external hedge fund managers. I was overseeing a $400M portfolio of directional hedge funds made up of L/S Equity, CTAs, global macros and a few funds of funds. Every week I would attend a meeting with internal portfolio managers covering global markets and discuss the views of our hedge fund managers.That's where I met Gordon and he left a good impression on me because he was asking tough questions to portfolio managers on their forward looking views.

A month after he left the Caisse to take over the helm at PSP, I joined him (I was he first investment hire). Gordon had me help Derek Murphy on his business plan for private equity and Bruno Guilmette on his business plan for infrastructure.

Once my stints in private equity and infrastructure were over, I was bounced to work with Pierre Malo, who had left the Caisse where he was in charge of currencies to join PSP as Head of Research and Asset Mix. Pierre then hired another analyst, Mihail Garchev who is still working at PSP as the Senior Director for the Office of the CIO.

Together, our small team produced a lot of research and recommended timberland and steered clear from passive commodity indexes. It was research I enjoyed and till this day, that experience helped me make this blog into the success it has become.

Someone from bcIMC emailed me to ask me what to expect of Gordon Fyfe. I told this person that Gordon's focus will be primarily on private markets and he might even bring people from PSP to help him. I also told this person at bcIMC that like any leader, Gordon has his strengths and weaknesses but there is no doubt in my mind that the folks at bcIMC are extremely lucky Gordon is their new leader.

In fact, Gordon Fyfe is an exceptional leader who instills confidence and will fight hard for his employees. And unlike others, he's very approachable and down to earth, which is part of his affable character (just don't share too much with him). He's a hard worker, demands a lot from himself and his employees, but first and foremost, he's a family man and knows the importance of work life balance (he would have breakfast meetings but rarely any lunch meetings because he hit the gym at lunch).

Below, a rare interview with Gordon Fyfe, bcIMC's new CEO and CIO (click here if it doesn't load). Gordon, I wish you much success at bcIMC and hope we touch base again when you're back in town.

Video streaming by Ustream

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