II’s Most Wanted Allocators: Second Team

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


Welcome to the second half of Institutional Investor’s inaugural Most Wanted Allocators, ranked 26 through 50. See the First Team, ranked 1 to 25, here.

Who are the investors coveted for these treasured CIO roles? When recruiters dream of their ultimate long list, who’s on it? Institutional Investor asked them. The top talent brokers helped II’s editors design a formula to quantify desirability and score candidates, according to what they think matters in a first-time CIO.

Portfolio Management 50%

  • Investment track record: 25%*
  • Exposure to complex investments and asset classes: 15%
  • Manager relations and access: 10%

Non-Portfolio Management 50%

  • Management and leadership skills: 20%
  • Communication, interpersonal skills, and board interaction experience: 20%
  • Reputation of employer: 10%

With these criteria in hand, II editors collected, vetted, and scored reams of recommendations, sourced primarily from the leading recruiters on three continents, but also from asset managers, consultants, and CIOs themselves. When more than one investor received the same total score, ties were broken by subtracting grades for investment track record and employer reputation — the two criteria most dependent on the quality of an individual’s organization.

Crucially, this lists recruiters’ fantasy draft picks, not free agents — to an extent: Allocators assumed to be unmovable (Yale’s Dean Takahashi, say) were ignored; so were individuals with no previous allocating experience. Otherwise, any institutional allocator worldwide, regardless of age or fund size, was fair game. Some may have decided long ago to remain pure investors, and that the work of coddling board members, managing scandals, and debating salaries wasn’t for them. To those who see members of their staff listed, congratulations! Take this is as a testament to your ability to develop talent — and an annual market valuation of it.

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

*When an individual’s portfolio track record was unknown, significant weight was given to the track record of the institution(s) at which they worked over the previous ten years.


Sherif Nahas

Total Score: 70/100

If a leading headhunter was seeking a CIO for a $2 to $3 billion endowment, “one of the guys from Ford, Sherif or Chris Barber” would make the fantasy top-five shortlist. Others echoed the recommendation, with Nahas edging out the more junior Barber (this year, at least). 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.”


Brad Gilbert

Total Score: 71/100

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.” Recruiters expect that Gilbert, when the time is right, “may depart. TRS just has a lot of talent at the top,” making exits likely down the road.


Malcolm Goepfert &Christopher Schelling (tie)

Malcolm Goepfert’s Total Score: 66/100

Although he’s only been at the auto workers’ pension fund for a year, Goepfert’s background includes the Alaska Permanent Fund, Ohio’s teachers pension, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the James Irvine Foundation. He can “manage and lead a team, work with a board, and communicate effectively” – but his overall score is hurt by having been passed over for the CIO role at Irvine.

Christopher Schelling’s Total Score: 66/100

Schelling is one of those incredibly rare investors with both “deep technical know-how” and a gift for communicating it. (Indeed, he was a columnist for II’s former print magazine.) 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).


Greg Spick

Total Score: 67/100

Spick, 37, spent the formative years of of his vertiginous career at UPS under then-CIO Brian Pellegrino, a renowned mentor and talent developer. Over nearly eight years, he rose to head up a $6 billion private markets portfolio, showing “creativity and hustle” rare in the sleepy corporate pension world. When Pellegrino exited UPS last year, Spick “wasn’t quite ready” for the CIO role. Snapped up by the “low-profile” Cox Enterprises in April, he’s now expanding from a corporate defined benefit specialist to broader fund types. “Greg is the next generation,” says one commentator.


Dan Parker

Total Score: 66/100

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.


Julie Glynn

Total Score: 70/100

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.”


Que Nguyen

Total Score: 70/100

One can only guess at the investment performance of Michael Bloomberg’s secretive family office, but insiders say Nguyen — who was a “superstar” at the University of Chicago’s endowment — has the “strategy, creativity, and thoughtfulness” to do well. The well-rounded and “highly sophisticated” investor “could already have written her own ticket into a CIO role.”


Kelli Washington

Total Score: 65/100

After an almost 10 years in investment consulting at Cambridge Associates, Washington knows her way around a board meeting. “Very polished” and “likeable,” she has the necessary people skills, but still lacks a proven track record as an asset owner. Still, recruiters say, Washington is on the path to being a “very effective CIO somewhere.”


Geoffrey Love

Total Score: 70/100

The second-largest charitable foundation in the world, the Wellcome Trust is “like the Yale of EMEA.” With 20 years at the foundation under his belt, Love is ripe for the picking — if he ever plans to move. He heads up venture capital, gaining experience on both sides of the boardroom table as the Wellcome Trust’s representative at portfolio company meetings. In his free time, Love sits on the investment committee at Marie Curie Cancer Care.


Reginald Sanders

Total Score: 65/100

A “pretty polished, personable guy,” Sanders would “do a great job leading a team.” Before joining Kellogg in 2010, Sanders received “a lot of training” at Kodak’s pension fund, where he managed hedge funds, private equity, and real assets. Recently, he was asked to join the state of Michigan’s pension fund advisory board – which “says a lot about Reggie.”


Robert Lee III

Total Score: 62/100

Lee recently departed the Texas Tech endowment — “some questions about that,” one recruiter notes — to start a fund focused on niche investments. “That plays to his strength,” another commentator says. “The guy is an animal when it comes to hunting down unique return streams.” With Lee having raised assets out of the gate, some wonder whether he’d want to get back in the pure allocator role — “but if he does, there’s a place for him somewhere.”


Al Kim

Total Score: 68/100

Kim surprised a lot of people last winter 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.


Mike Ruetz

Total Score: 66/100

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.


Erik Carleton

Total Score: 65/100

Among the widely accomplished peers on this list, Carleton holds the distinction of being the only former rockstar. He was the frontman for a band before deciding to get a “real job” in investment consulting — first covering non-US equities managers at Fiduciary Investment Advisors, then focusing on corporate clients at NEPC. Still, “corporate pensions are tough” career-wise. The “frozen, mostly immunized” portfolios offer fewer learning opportunities for young allocators — but having a firebrand mentor like Textron’s CIO Charles Van Vleet helps.


Eric Nierenberg

Total Score: 64/100

Among U.S. public pensions, “the level of sophistication is not going to be quite as strong” as in U.S. nonprofits and overseas funds, one headhunter says. Yet “there will be some pure investors and a handful of young up-and-coming people percolating in the public side.” Nierenberg is one of them. He holds three Harvard degrees, including a PhD focused in behavioral science, and helps run a $67 billion fund. He’s known as “deep technically” and “in the perfect role for jumping to a CIO job.” Plus, “managers respect him.”


Edmond Fong

Total Score: 61/100

“According to Jagdeep, he’s the one” on the current UC Regents team who’s destined for a CIO role. Investment chief Jagdeep Bachher is undoubtedly a fan of Fong, “a rare holdover” from before Bachher joined and one who’s been promoted several times since then. But Fong has relatively less experience as a leader, public face, and board liaison than some of his “seasoned, all-star” colleagues, such as ex-APG CEO Eduard van Gelderen (#12).


Evalinde Eelens

Total Score: 68/100

A “fixture in the European pension community,” Eelens has a “sharp analytical mind” and “eagerness to get the job done in the best way possible.” After starting her career as a journalist, Eelens soon moved on to asset management, landing in her first pension role in 2009. At Mars, she oversees pension plans throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.


Roger Vincent

Total Score: 60/100

Cornell’s ten-year return of 4.1 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. It doesn’t hurt that he’s “got a presence when he comes into a room” — a good trait in a future leader.


Alisa Mall

Total Score: 69/100

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.”


Karen Horn Welch

Total Score: 66/100

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.


Sean Casey

Total Score: 63/100

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.


Prakhar Bansal &Scott Chan (tie)

Prakhar Bansal’s Total Score: 70/100

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 15 years at the endowment, he worked in public markets, hedge funds, real estate, and natural resources before succeeding Que Nguyen (#31) in the strategy role — a position recruiters point to as a stepping stone to the CIO job.

Scott Chan’s Total Score: 70/100

No hiring committee would have to gamble on Chan as a CIO: he’s already been one. The 47-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 with the investment supergroup gathering at the University of California. “It’s a very reasonable path to go to a premier program, and wouldn’t hurt chances of becoming a CIO again later,” one recruiter says of taking a title cut for a better known (and better paying) shop.


Matthew Stone

Total Score: 69/100

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.