OMERS and CDPQ Announce Executive Appointments
Toronto, February 1, 2023 – OMERS President and CEO, Blake Hutcheson today announced that , Executive Vice President and Global Head of Capital Markets, will succeed as Chief Investment Officer, effective April 1, 2023. Mr. Rai will transition to an advisory role until his retirement from OMERS in late 2024.
“OMERS investment strategy has seen considerable benefit from having Satish Rai as our long-serving CIO. And now, we are fortunate to be in the capable hands of Ralph Berg. Ralph is a proven investor and a seasoned executive. The Board and I have the deepest confidence that he will continue to build on our strategy to grow our investment capabilities, our global reach, and our diversified high-quality portfolio,” said Mr. Hutcheson. “Ralph is a respected leader who will work together with a world-class team of dedicated investment professionals.’’
Mr. Berg has a decade of experience at OMERS in a variety of leadership roles. As Global Head of OMERS Capital Markets, he has been responsible for public market investments which currently represent just over half of OMERS net investment assets. Prior to that role, he was Executive Vice President and Global Head of OMERS Infrastructure, overseeing a portfolio of high-quality infrastructure assets that now extends across the globe.
“I am honoured to be taking on this role and look forward to working alongside the exemplary investment team at OMERS to generate long-term value which ultimately fulfills our pension promise to all of our members,” said Mr. Berg.
Mr. Rai, a highly accomplished investment professional, has been with OMERS for eight years, and in the CIO role since 2018.
“Satish has devoted his talent, leadership and expertise to building an extraordinary global investment strategy, brand, and team during his tenure at OMERS,” said Mr. Hutcheson. “We are extremely grateful for Satish’s contributions, and I look forward to his continued commitment and counsel that will benefit our members and their families over the long term.”
Founded in 1962, OMERS is one of Canada’s largest defined benefit pension plans, with $121 billion in net assets as at December 31, 2021. OMERS is a jointly-sponsored pension plan, with 1,000 participating employers ranging from large cities to local agencies, and over half a million active, deferred, and retired members. OMERS members include union and non-union employees of municipalities, school boards, local boards, transit systems, electrical utilities, emergency services and children’s aid societies across Ontario. Contributions to the Plan are funded equally by members and employers. OMERS teams work in Toronto, London, New York, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Singapore, Sydney and other major cities across North America and Europe – serving members and employers and originating and managing a diversified portfolio of high-quality investments in public markets, private equity, infrastructure, and real estate.
And yesterday, CDPQ announced the appointment of two executives to key positions:
At CDPQ, we invest constructively to generate sustainable returns over the long term. As a global investment group managing funds for public retirement and insurance plans, we work alongside our partners to build enterprises that drive performance and progress. We are active in the major financial markets, private equity, infrastructure, real estate and private debt. As at As at June 30, 2022, CDPQ’s net assets totalled CAD 391.6 billion. For more information, visit cdpq.com, follow us on Twitter or consult our Facebook or LinkedIn pages.
CDPQ is a registered trademark owned by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and licensed for use by its subsidiaries.
Alright, in this post, I am really going to keep my comments to the point and brief.
Let me first begin with Ralph Berg, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Capital Markets at OMERS who will soon be taking over Satish Rai's duties as the CIO of that organization.
I would have been shocked, more like "SHOCKED!!!", if Blake Hutcheson, OMERS' CEO, named anyone else than Ralph for this important position.
Ralph has extensive experience across public and private markets, having led OMERS Infrastructure prior to heading up the Capital Markets group.
In my opinion, and it is my opinion, he's being groomed to take over the top job at OMERS when Blake decides to step down, retire and keep watching his beloved Maple Leafs.
When I think of a great CIO at a pension fund, I think of someone who has such extensive experience across public and private markets.
Ralph Berg definitely fits that mold and while I never met or spoke to the man, I heard great things about him from people I trust (look forward to meeting him one day).
Now, what makes a great CIO?
I remember a conversation I had with the late great Neil Petroff, OTPP's former CIO who tragically passed away late last year, asking him: "Do you believe a CIO should be in charge of both private and public markets?"
Neil responded: "Of course, I can't properly do my job overseeing Teachers' assets with one hand tied behind my back!"
If you want to know why Neil Petroff and his successor (after Graven Larsen) Ziad Hindo are the highest paid CIOs in the pension industry, it's exactly because of the responsibilities they assume(d).
Ziad Hindo gets $4 million a year and he's delivering on all fronts (it's all public information in their annual report). Other CIOs don't get compensated as well but they don't assume the same responsibilities (Ed Cass at CPP Investments has comparable responsibilities, followed by Michael Wissell at HOOPP and AIMCo's newly appointed CIO Marlene Puffer will also have the same responsibilities, overlooking public and private markets).
The job of a CIO is extremely important at these large pension funds because they need to properly allocate assets across public and private markets and oversee these teams, making sure everyone is on the same page, thinking of total fund performance.
In fact, I would go as far as saying the job of an unconstrained CIO -- meaning they are responsible for public and private markets -- in some ways is even more important than who the CEO is (yes, Boards nominate a CEO who then hires the CIO but they don't all have the same responsibilities and sometimes the Board tells the incoming CEO to work with the CIO who's already there).
It's a tough job and it's getting a lot tougher with the advent of responsible investing and the transition economy where data is critically important.
[Note: To my astonishment, BCI didn't select the candidate I referred to them for a senior director role in Data Analytics. My friend is top-notch and he told me: "Nice lady with a Harvard certificate but she knows nothing about data analytics, didn't even ask me any questions pertaining to it." I was floored).
To all of Canada's pension funds, when I refer a candidate to you, JUMP on him or her, you will NOT find a better person for the job, be it in currency trading, data analytics, fixed income, private equity, private debt, real estate, infrastructure or natural resources!!
That brings me to Maxime Aucoin and David Latour at the Caisse.
I actually met Maxime a while ago when Sabia was in power because I applied to a position in his currency group and he met with me to go over my experience.
He never ended up hiring me which was a big mistake but we did meet and I liked the guy, he's very nice and sharp and we got along well.
I remember he asked me my long-term thoughts on the Mexican peso and I told him flat out: "It's pretty much a petro currency, a lot more than the loonie, but don't ask me where it will be in 20 years, have no clue."
Admittedly, I found that a bit of an odd question and so did my buddy Steve in Toronto who trades currencies and covered all the main currency traders at Canada's large pensions.
Till this day, Steve and I believe that Canada's large pensions are leaving way too much money on the table when it comes to currencies, way too much!!
The sad truth is most Canadian pension funds don't make money on currencies and take an agnostic view on them (the smart ones are long USD over the long run but that's meaningless).
Anyway, back to Maxime, he didn't end up hiring me but he knows his stuff and is a very nice and smart guy who is a strategic thinker and will now be responsible for depositors and the total portfolio.
Michael Sabia was right to place Maxime in his executive team and Charles Emond is even smarter to nominate Maxime to be in charge of depositors.
Maybe Sabia told Maxime not to hire me, maybe, who knows and who cares!
[Note: Sabia didn't even realize his most senior executive assistant was part of a full-fledged cult here in Quebec and tried to recruit me in it one day in a sneaky way. Very nice lady but till this day, my wife gets a kick out of that story and how I told these cult leaders I know more than them about facing real adversity and getting through life's most difficult moments. What a scam and waste of time that presentation was, when they followed up with a call, I told them to get lost!].
Back to Maxime, I think he will be great handling depositors because they can trust him and handling the total portfolio at the Caisse provided he has the right data analytics people working for him and some deep strategic thinkers who can think long and short-term across all asset classes (hint, hint!!).
As for David Latour, I do not know him, he's part of my LinkedIn network along with 17,000 other people I mostly don't know but I'm sure he's highly qualified and since he came to CDPQ in 2009 right after the ABCP blowup, I'm sure he has seen a lot and has tremendous experience.
He resembles Maxime Aucoin, they can even pass as cousins (why do French Canadian men love sporting a beard and glasses...I'm old school like Charles Emond and like to shave every day, the way my grandfather taught me to never leave the house with stubble).
David Latour is taking over Claude Bergeron's responsibilities managing the Risk team.
I've never met Claude Bergeron either but let me tell you, in his 35 years at CDPQ, he has seen it all (only Claude Langevin surpasses that tenure at the Caisse, he was there 50 years).
I'll put it to you this way, if Claude Bergeron ever writes a book on Quebec Inc. (aka La Caisse), you should definitely buy it. And if yours truly and Simon Lamy write the forward, you should RUN TO BUY IT! (LOL!)
Alright, I feel like I'm making a lot of people incredibly uncomfortable reading this so let me stop while I'm ahead.
I can assure you I'm not drunk and the pain killers for my sciatica have not kicked in yet, but boy did I have a blast listening to Jerome Powell's presser this afternoon after the FOMC decision came in as expected, raising rates by 25 basis points. You can see my LinkedIn post here and some Tweets below:
Key takeaways from Powell’s press conference:— Nick Timiraos (@NickTimiraos) February 1, 2023
"We are talking about a couple more” rate increases.
“We’re going to be cautious about declaring victory and sending signals that we think the game is won.”
“Certainty is just not appropriate here.” https://t.co/vfjPjO1Diu
Powell: “The job is not fully done.”— Nick Timiraos (@NickTimiraos) February 1, 2023
He says it would be worse to get close to getting on top of inflation and then find out in six or 12 months that you didn't do enough.
All the liquidity created by the Fed in recent years is now being paid 4.65% interest, turning all those zero-interest hot potatoes into "synthetic" interest-earning T-bills. The impact of "quantitative tightening" is already here. Speculators just haven't quite figured that out. pic.twitter.com/nLybGP9Vvh— John P. Hussman, Ph.D. (@hussmanjp) February 1, 2023
Is there anyone out there at all even bothering to pretend this isn’t just ARKK? pic.twitter.com/hv2SFQ4mD0— Clifford Asness (@CliffordAsness) February 1, 2023
Chairman Powell: "We think financial conditions have tightened sufficiently this year."— Leo Kolivakis (@PensionPulse) February 1, 2023
Stock market's response: "Bwahahaha! Watcha smoking Jerome?"🤣 pic.twitter.com/0jM3pr6kmT
Is Jerome secretly dating Cathie Wood?😲 How can he possibly state this with a straight face after admitting service inflation is persisting and wage inflation could rise this year?🙄 Come on Jay Pow, show us your personal account, are you and rest of FOMC long $ARKK here? 🤣 pic.twitter.com/EFhGfDgcwb— Leo Kolivakis (@PensionPulse) February 1, 2023
Alright, enough silliness, time to end on a serious note.
I want to publicly congratulate once more Ralph Berg, Maxime Aucoin and David Latour as well as their bosses for nominating them to these important positions.
In this environment, experience and leadership count a lot which is why Blake Hutcheson and Charles Emond made very wise decisions.
I keep saying it, and I'll say it again and again, be prepared for a major global recession later this year or be prepared to get your head handed to you. I'm dead serious about that and it's not just Trahan influencing me (maybe a little but I'm more bearish than he is!).
When Burry opens his mouth, the opposite happens; the banks want payback for how he screwed them back in 2008.— HOZ (@MFHoz) February 1, 2023
Inflation is increasing again and earnings are declining. The Federal Reserve cannot prevent what's to come.
I remain steadfast in my short position.
That's why I almost fell off my office chair laughing when Jay Powell said during his presser that he thinks they can achieve a soft landing. What's next? Will he ask us to believe in mermaids, unicorns and Santa Claus? Give me a break, I'll end my blog for good if the Fed achieves a soft landing!!!
More on markets this Friday and remember, while I appreciate your kind words, I appreciate more your dollars, so don't be shy to support my efforts via PayPal options on the top left-hand side under my picture.
I thank all of you no matter who you are (or how big or small your contributions) that take the time to contribute.
Have fun listening to presser, I will listen to it again before bed to hear him say how they can achieve a soft landing, it's priceless!!