II’s Most Wanted Allocators: Second Team

The 2019 wish list of not-yet CIOs, according to the industry’s top recruiters.

Illustration by Pete Ryan

Illustration by Pete Ryan

Who are the allocators most coveted for chief investment officer roles? For the second time, Institutional Investor attempts to answer this question.

How? By asking the very gatekeepers — executive recruiters — who hold so much power over the career paths of would-be CIOs.

As judged on the below formula, the 25 individuals who make up the Most Wanted Allocators: Second Team have the skill sets and experience valued by recruiters and boards. II is grateful to the many professionals who contributed their time and insight to this project, including — but not limited to — the Prince Houston Group’s co-founders Marylin Prince and James Houston; Russell Reynolds Associates’ Debra Brown, Meredith Coburn, and Christina Proctor; Korn Ferry senior client partner Michael Kennedy; and the staff at Wilshire Associates. Many others preferred to remain anonymous.

Comments, complaints, candidates for next year? Let us know.

Portfolio Management: 40%

  • Investment track record: 15%
  • Exposure to complex investments and asset classes: 15%
  • Manager relations and access: 10%

Non-Portfolio Management: 60%

  • Management and leadership skills: 20%
  • Communication, interpersonal skills, and board interaction experience: 20%
  • Pedigree, including employer reputation, education, and training: 20%

A more detailed explanation of this year’s new methodology can be found here. See the First Team (No. 1 through No. 25) here.


Dan Parker

Total score: 64/100

This former platoon commander “jumped around a bit” earlier in his career, but seems to “have made a great niche for himself at Texas Tech” under CIO Tim Barrett. The fund, “known for being willing to step outside the beaten path” to find investments, benefits from Parker’s “willingness to get on a plane” whenever he’s asked. His Marine Corps background gets him high leadership marks from outsiders — and instills fear in any manager subject to his due diligence. The strength of Parker’s personality means “he could easily be a CIO — but definitely would need to find the right platform,” one recruiter cautions.


Sherif Nahas

Total score: 62/100

An engineer before he became an investor, Nahas is “very smart, and covers all the private markets.” At Ford, he manages a team of five with “very little turnover — and strong performance.” The foundation doesn’t disclose returns, however, so his track record remains hearsay. Of all the asset classes to lead, recruiters point to private equity as their top choice for a future CIO. But private equity’s tailwinds mean investors have to prove themselves: “If you just piggyback on the big funds, you can have a very good track record.”


Melinda Barber

Total score: 67/100

Recruiters describe Barber as “really smart” and “very sophisticated.” The private equity specialist spent five and a half years at Harvard Management Co. before leaving last spring to join the family office of cable TV billionaire Amos Hostetter Jr. At Pilot House, Barber specializes in early-stage venture capital investments. As one recommender declares, “She’s world class.”


Ed Hetherington, Greg Turk (tie)

Ed Hetherington’s total score: 66/100

This UPS pension alum has a “broad swath of experience now that he’s moved into the endowment side of the business.” Strengths include “strong” manager relationships — “always important for a candidate to be considered” for a CIO role — and “a very sharp, engaging personality.” Word is that he’s been “considered for a few leadership roles” but, as of now, “is content at UNC.”

Greg Turk’s total score: 66/100

Although perhaps less “Northeastern polished” than others on this list, Turk is “super disciplined” and “very, very bright.” This “folksy” Midwesterner with an “analytical bent” is skilled across asset classes and stays “super composed” even during conflict-ridden board meetings. He might not have the training needed to take on an elite endowment or foundation (or their “more sophisticated” investment committees). But recruiters say Turk “would play well with public pension boards all over the country.”


Christopher Schelling, Philip Titolo (tie)

Christopher Schelling’s total score: 61/100

Schelling is one of those incredibly rare investors with both “deep technical know-how” and a gift for communicating it. (Indeed, he is a columnist for Institutional Investor.) The former finance professor is “extremely familiar with all aspects of capital markets,” “a true team player,” and an “ardent supporter of the mission.” As a CIO candidate, he will benefit from more management experience and a chance to prove himself beyond private equity (and column writing).

Phillip Titolo’s total score: 61/100

Titolo triumphed over 22 other allocators to win II’s Next CIO competition late last year, impressing audiences of his peers with his composure and insight over two grueling rounds of questioning. With substantial experience in alternatives, he’s a rare breed in the corporate and insurance investment world. “Really strong,” one recruiter says. “One to watch in the insurance space.”


Prakhar Bansal, Ingrid van Sundert (tie)

Prakhar Bansal’s total score: 64/100

CIO Mark Schmid has been known to brag that any of his managing directors “could be CIOs anywhere” — and Bansal is no exception. In his 16 years at the endowment, he worked in public markets, hedge funds, real estate, and natural resources before moving into the strategy role — a position recruiters point to as a stepping stone to the CIO job. But his long tenure at the University of Chicago also means owning its track record, which is third quartile among peers. Schmid would argue that high absolute returns aren’t his team’s mission, but they are for most of Bansal’s potential future employers.

Ingrid van Sundert’s total score: 64/100

“The word on APG is that ten years ago they were very smart and sophisticated investors,” one insider says. But the portfolio has since been heavily simplified — in part to comply with Dutch regulations. Still, those who’ve worked with van Sundert say she does her job “extremely well . . . . She knows about the managers and how to combine the strategies.” Although she still has “some development points” before she’s ready for the next level, van Sundert is described as a “very strong” investor who’s “highly regarded” internally and externally.


David Finstad

Total score: 67/100

Finstad earned fierce loyalty from his “hungry and accomplished” team at OMERS’ NYC outpost, which he left in mid-2018 after nearly eight years. He was responsible for “all aspects of building OMERS’ external investment program,” which has an incredibly high bar, since the Canadian fund does “so much internally.” Recruiters agree that “OMERS has a great reputation.” As one says, “Our clients respect the Canadians, and if we can get someone from one of the big Canadian funds to the table, we are interested. If they are doing the NYC- or Boston-to-Toronto reverse commute” — as Finstad was — “they would be prime targets.” The only drawback: Finstad’s specialty in hedge funds. His next move isn’t clear, but institutions’ doors are open to this “straight-shooting” Canadian.


Julie Glynn

Total score: 65/100

Glynn is “quietly doing her work up in Hartford,” with a mandate covering global public equities, multi-asset funds, and portable alpha investments. Praised for her “maturity” and “professionalism,” she also gets good marks for manager relationships and fund reputation. Still, Glynn faces one major problem: “Her boss is the best in the business, bar none, and it doesn’t look like Robin [Diamonte] is moving anytime soon.”


Reginald Sanders

Total score: 67/100

A “pretty polished, personable guy,” Sanders is pointed to as someone with “a lot of potential” who would “do a great job leading a team.” He received “a lot of training” at Kodak’s pension fund, where he managed hedge funds, private equity, and real assets before joining Kellogg in 2010. Last year, he was asked to join the state of Michigan’s new pension fund advisory board — which “says a lot about Reggie.” Recruiters think Sanders “will be a CIO . . . it’s just about finding the right fit.”


Mike Ruetz

Total score: 67/100

A “bit of a sleeper, perhaps because [Cargill is] up in Minnesota,” Ruetz still gets put forward by multiple recruiters as someone with a CIO future. Like some others on this list, Ruetz followed his boss from a previous role — “always, always a good sign,” says one commentator. In this case, that boss was CIO Shawn Wischmeier, previously of the North Carolina Retirement Systems. At Cargill, Ruetz oversees the risk management and asset allocation teams, earning him high marks for leadership and board interaction.


Amy Diamond

Total score: 62/100

Diamond debuts on the Most Wanted Allocators list this year as a near-consensus choice among recruiters. As one remarks, she is “well regarded and very well thought of by the CIO,” William McLean. “She’s good — same with her counterpart, Harisha [Koneru Haigh].” Another lauds the “great investment table” at Northwestern’s $11 billion endowment, which has performed on par with peers over the last decade. Diamond belongs to the “tight community in the real estate space, which, like Alisa Mall [No. 37], Amy has been in for a long time.” With 19 years and counting at the Chicago-area endowment, “if she were to make a move, it would be for the CIO seat.”


Al Kim

Total score: 66/100

Kim surprised a lot of people in 2017 when he triumphed by peer vote as the most likely future CIO at II’s Allocators’ Choice Awards. “Al’s quiet — he’s amazing but kind of shy.” Thoughtful, experienced, and authentic, Kim trounced slicker peers in answering tricky questions on leadership and judgement. Kim was brought to Helmsley by “everyone’s idol” Rosalind Hewsenian, who spotted his talent early at Wilshire Associates.


Roger Vincent

Total score: 64/100

Cornell’s ten-year return of 4.84 percent is among the worst of any endowment, and its investment office has suffered chronic CIO turnover. Still, insiders say Vincent — who briefly served as interim co-CIO in 2016 — has had a “strong career” there despite the “chaos that’s gone on.” A private equity investor “through and through” rather than a generalist, Vincent’s “got a presence when he comes into a room” — a good trait in a future leader.


Sean Casey

Total score: 60/100

Casey was in the running to be the CIO at B1 Capital Partners — a new family office managing Peruvian money — but the top job ultimately went to Michael Flynn. Casey has a generalist background with “exposure to all asset classes.” At B1, he’s getting the opportunity to be a leading part of a fresh build-out.


Scott Chan

Total score: 63/100

No hiring committee would have to gamble on Chan as a CIO: he’s already been one. The 48-year-old led Sacramento County’s then-$8 billion pension fund from 2010 to 2015, when he sacrificed the top title to lead public assets at the University of California. CalSTRS’ powerhouse CIO, Chris Ailman, plucked Chan out of the dysfunctional UC investment office in 2018 to be his deputy and — some speculate — a potential successor. “The change in job doesn’t change my view,” says one recruiter. “This is just going to provide more experience for him.”


Malcolm Goepfert

Total score: 64/100

Goepfert has been at the UAW Trust for two years and has already been promoted — a sign of the leadership he brings to the auto workers’ pension fund. The newly minted deputy CIO can “manage and lead a team, work with a board, and communicate effectively.” His well-rounded resume includes the Alaska Permanent Fund, Ohio’s teachers’ pension, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the James Irvine Foundation.


Brad Gilbert, Alisa Mall (tie)

Brad Gilbert’s total score: 64/100

Another member of the “Britt Harris mafia,” Gilbert is “known by almost every hedge fund out there — yes, by dint of the portfolio he helps run, but also because of his earnestness and intelligence.” Being a “hedge fund guy” can be a tough sell for CIO hiring committees — especially coming from a plan the size of Texas Teachers — but recruiters like Gilbert, whom they describe as an all-around “nice guy.” They expect that he’ll depart when the time is right: “TRS just has a lot of talent at the top,” making exits likely down the road.

Alisa Mall’s total score: 64/100

Carnegie’s investment talent runs deep. “I would be hard pressed to endorse one over the other,” says a torn recommender, “but if you are asking if I believe that Alisa should be a candidate: Yes!” The departure of Meredith Jenkins as the fund’s co-CIO freed up portfolio responsibility for staff members like Mall, “and was critical to their development.” Mall’s only caveat: “She has a natural resources background, so you have to want that.”


Matthew Stone

Total score: 63/100

Insiders wonder how Stone hasn’t been picked off after 19 years at the University of Chicago endowment. “He’s been cusp-y for some time,” one recruiter says of the managing director overseeing public equity, fixed income, hedge funds, and high-yield debt. A “little scrappy,” Stone is likely to play better in more “aggressive” markets. He and his colleague Prakhar Bansal (No. 39) get dinged for the fund’s track record: Their ten-year return of 5.8 percent trails most other U.S. endowments and foundations.


Binu George, Karen Horn Welch

Binu George’s total score: 65/100

George was one of the first hires at Willett Advisors, the secretive family office investing the personal and philanthropic assets of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. Although one can only guess at Willett’s investment performance, the fund is well regarded by recruiters — and its “very smart” head of manager diligence is seen as a CIO in the making.

Karen Horn Welch’s total score: 65/100

Recruiters praise Welch for “amazingly broad, big-dollar” experience at “high-profile” nonprofit funds relatively early in her career. In 2001, she was a research associate at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. By 2012, she was running investment strategy for Stanford’s $25 billion endowment, having already led its public equities and long/short equity hedge fund program. Welch hung on through the tumultuous tenure of the fund’s former CEO, when “the weakness in leadership gave the opportunity to rise pretty quickly” at a “name brand” institution. In 2016 she joined Spider, which manages the University of Richmond’s assets, among others.


Elizabeth Jourdan

Total score: 60/100

Excellent.” Jourdan may be young – she graduated with her bachelor’s in finance in 2007 — but she’s already made a name for herself at Mercy, a Catholic health system based in St. Louis. “Very well regarded by her CIO, Tony Waskiewicz,” one recruiter raves. “She’s someone who’s pretty consistently sought after — even for CIO roles.” In addition to her regular duties as deputy CIO, Jourdan chairs Mercy’s SRI task force and leads the fund’s efforts on environmental, social, and governance investing.