John Hull: On an Investment Mission Since 1985

A veteran investor shares lessons learned from both a plan sponsor and foundation perspective.


John Hull has captained the diversified $6 billion Mellon Foundation portfolio for 12 years. That’s plenty of time for him to contrast it with his 17-year role at the helm of the New York State Common Retirement Fund. With help from 11 professional staff and an effective investment committee, the fund has outperformed its peer group over the past decade.

At a roundtable discussion for the nine winners of the 2014 Institutional Investor U.S. Investment Management Awards, Hull shared some of his lessons learned:

On the governance challenge of managing a large public pension fund

“There was never a dialogue between our office and what I would say in the corporate world would be the CFO.”

On the future direction of hedge fund fees

“I think the best funds are not going to cut their fees. The funds you want to be in— I think for the most part, the fee is the fee.”

On strategic investment plans

“By the end of the year, I hope we’ll have more exposure in what we call diversified strategies, which are multistrategy and credit hedge funds. “

Hull is Top Large Foundation Investor of the year. For more of his thoughts, read the full roundtable discussion.