OTPP's Jonathan Hausman on the Newly Established GIS Team

Last week, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan put out a press release stating it established a Global Investment Strategy to be led by industry veteran Jonathan Hausman:

Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers') today announced the creation of the Global Investment Strategy Department, which will be led by Jonathan Hausman, who has been promoted to Senior Managing Director, Global Investment Strategy, effective immediately.

Global Investment Strategy will enhance Ontario Teachers' global competitive advantage by developing and building conviction on strategic responses to emerging global themes that traverse asset classes and regions, working closely with the investment team to support innovation, and continuing to develop and leverage differentiated strategic relationships. 

"Having an informed and integrated view of strategic trends has always been core to our approach to delivering superior returns and impact over the long term.  The Global Investment Strategy team will deepen our capacity to identify and tackle multifaceted themes as we grow our investments around the world," said Ziad Hindo, Chief Investment Officer, Ontario Teachers'. "We look forward to Jonathan and his team continuing to identify and help the Investments Division execute on key themes to drive performance for the long-term benefit of the Fund and our members."

Mr. Hausman joined Ontario Teachers' in 2004. He has held senior roles in Capital Markets, and, since 2017, has been Managing Director, Global Strategic Relationships. Prior to joining Ontario Teachers', Mr. Hausman was an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs. He holds a BA (Hons.) from McGill University, an MSc. (Econ.) from the London School of Economics, and an MPA from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He also has an ICD.D certification from the Institute of Corporate Directors.  He is a Senior Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, Chair of the Canadian Council for the Americas, and a member of the Advisory Board of Capitalize for Kids.  

About Ontario Teachers'

Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers') is the administrator of Canada's largest single-profession pension plan, with C$227.7 billion in net assets (all figures at June 30, 2021 unless noted). It holds a diverse global portfolio of assets, approximately 80% of which is managed in-house, and has earned an annual total-fund net return of 9.6% since the plan's founding in 1990. Ontario Teachers' is an independent organization headquartered in Toronto. Its Asia-Pacific region offices are located in Hong Kong and Singapore, and its Europe, Middle East & Africa region office is in London. The defined-benefit plan, which is fully funded as at January 1, 2021, invests and administers the pensions of the province of Ontario's 331,000 active and retired teachers. For more information, visit otpp.com.

Late this afternoon, I had a chance to talk to Jonathan Hausman, Senior Managing Director, Global Investment Strategy.

Let me begin by thanking him for taking some time to talk to me and also congratulate him for being promoted to this important position.

I also want to thank Dan Madge, Director, External Communications for setting up this call.

Before we got into it, Jonathan told me he was in Montreal over the weekend visiting his daughter and we reminisced a bit of our McGill days.

Jonathan completed the Honours program in Political Science before going over to LSE.

I told him that I took so many electives in political theory with Charles Taylor, James Tully, Sam Noumoff and John Shingler.

He told me he took a lot of economics courses as electives. 

We both got into LSE, he wisely chose to go and I stayed back at McGill because they paid me to T.A. while I completed my Masters.

What else? We talked about Montreal's great restaurants and he told me he always goes to Beauty's, Gibby's and Moishes which unfortunately closed after 83 years (a victim of the pandemic). 

Great restaurants but nothing beats the Milos lunch special in Montreal. Jonathan agreed and he was pleased to learn they are planning on opening a Milos in Toronto very soon (it will boom there once they finally open it).

I also told him the next time he's visiting with his daughter who is looking to possibly attend McGill, take her to Sho-Dan on Metcalfe near de Maisonneuve and enjoy the best sushi in the city. [Tip for Jonathan: order Gyoza and Haru Maki as entrees but some of the best specials aren't even on the menu, like Anais, Phoenix, Ichiban rolls and Kiss rolls (specify rolls)].

Yummy! I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

Anyway, back to my chat with Jonathan. I really enjoyed our conversation because we got into it and he explained the genesis of this newly created Global Investment Strategy team.

As he explained it: "The world is a lot more complex and much more competitive. We need to think long-term and adapt to a world that is changing very rapidly. To maintain our competitiveness, we need a long-term view to adapt to the changing environment, always focusing on the commercial opportunities of these changes." 

He went on: "In the summer of 2020, we analyzed what the post-COVID world will look like, looking ten years ahead. We looked at a range of possible trends and then looked at how we can stay focused and whether we have the strategic capacity to capitalize on these trends to generate the long-term required returns we need to generate for our members and sustain the plan over generations."

He told me a key aspect of this new team is to leverage off existing relationships with banks, GPs, portfolio companies and internal teams to "really get the best ideas" from all external and internal sources.

He gave me the example of Henry Kravis of KKR who came up with metrics to analyze elements that don't show up in financial models like geopolitical risks, climate risks, ESG, etc. (Kravis always worries about downside risks).

I asked Jonathan if this new team is like the Global Thematic team at CPP Investments and he told me: "not exactly, we are looking for content and commercial application and are supporting our internal investment teams."

I asked him where does Olivia Steedman's TIP (Teachers' Innovation Platform) team figure into this?

Interestingly, he told me before they established GIS (Global Investment Strategy), he, Olivia, Stephen McLennan (Head of Total Fund Management) worked analyzing asset classes, geographies and how disruptive technologies impact real estate, infrastructure, equities and more. And out of this research came Teachers' Innovation Platform which Olivia heads up.

He was very clear that Stephen's TFM team handles all asset mix decisions, Olivia focuses on investing in disruptive technologies and that they are more focused on geographic presence and building on Teachers' presence in local markets by working with regional senior managing directors and by building the right partnerships.

All three teams report to Ziad Hindo, the CIO, and GIS and TFM are basically an extension of the CIO office while TIP is an investment department on its own.

I pressed Jonathan on how exactly they leverage all this information from banks, GPs, portfolio companies and internal sources to decipher the best ideas?

He told me there are three key elements:

  • The Teachers' brand which is recognized throughout the world. 
  • Cultivating the right partnerships with the best possible partners
  • And most importantly, "always communicating what our needs are and entering robust dialogues at the top, middle and lower levels."

I told Jonathan partnerships are critically important for markets in Asia and elsewhere and that goes for OTPP and all of Canada's large pensions, it needs to be a mutually beneficial relationship.

"Absolutely, that's the only way you can move forward and gain important insights, access to deals and more."

As far as a concrete example for how his team has shaped strategy and thinking at OTPP, he gave me the example of how OTPP came up with new interim targets to cut the carbon emissions intensity of its portfolio by reducing emissions intensity by 45% by 2025 and 67% by 2030, from 2019 levels.

Jonathan co-led the net zero project. It was a team effort with Total Fund Management and Responsible Investing teams.

What else? Jonathan told me his team is working with Duncan Osborne, EVP and Head of Investments at Cadillac Fairview on their global strategy (again, geographic focus) so there is some dialogue on that level with the real estate subsidiary.

They also helped Cadillac Fairview with their Americas strategy.

Alright, let me wrap it up there.

Once again, I want to thank Jonathan for a great discussion and wish him and his 10-person team at OTPP much success.

What they are doing isn't easy work, far from it, but it's critically important work to help the CIO and pension over the long run.

I asked him how they will measure success and he said they need to achieve objectives and ultimately, it's about implementing a strategy that delivers the long-term required returns.

Again, this isn't easy work but I'm sure Jonathan and his team are up for the challenge and I do wish them much success.

Every pension in Canada needs to be thinking very similarly, the stakes are too high not to implement similar groups and thinking hard about generating long-term returns in a complex and competitive world that is constantly evolving.

Below, two years ago, Jonathan Hausman took part in a panel discussion on the economic and political outlook for the Americas sponsored by the Canadian Council for the Americas. 

Smart man, very knowledgeable and if I missed anything in our discussion above, I will correct and edit it as soon as possible.