This content is from: Portfolio

SECOR Asset Management Lures Longtime CIOs Kenneth Frier and Gretchen Tai

The duo, who have each notched years of experience heading up the investment offices at large pension plans, will lead the firm’s West Coast expansion.

  • Julie Segal

Veteran chief investment officers Kenneth Frier and Gretchen Tai have joined $41 billion investment firm SECOR Asset Management as partners and will co-head SECOR’s new office in the San Francisco Bay area.

Both Frier and Tai have long histories heading some of the largest pension plans and endowments. Frier joins from Atlas Capital Advisors in San Francisco; before Atlas, Frier served as CIO at the Walt Disney Company, Hewlett-Packard, Stanford Management Co. and the UAW Retiree-Medical Benefits Trust.

Tai is the former president and cio of Hewlett-Packard’s money management arm, having succeeded Frier there. As CIO of HP’s Shoreline Investment Management Co., Tai ran $45 billion in multiple benefit plans for HP and its affiliates before stepping down in May.

SECOR has offices in New York, Silicon Valley and London. Frier and Tai will lead the effort to grow SECOR’s business on the West Coast and in Asia. They will also bring to the firm a new global equity strategy they developed and have managed for the past two years.

Frier says the firm caters to corporate pension plans that are struggling to achieve a real rate of return of 5 percent to meet their objectives. The current bull market, which has now lasted eight years, also heightens the need for risk management, he says.

“Everybody in institutional investments says that asset allocation is the most important thing to get right,” says Frier. “But we all struggle with what does great asset allocation look like? One of the keys to being an excellent allocator is about avoiding big losses, so we have developed capabilities to help investors avoid the downside,” he emphasizes.

Adds Tai, “What we achieved at HP was to have more of a risk managed mindset. There’s no magic pill, but it’s exciting to find like-minded people here and join forces.”

Tony Kao and Ray Iwanowski founded SECOR in 2010 to provide investment advisory, risk management and customized multi-asset and quantitative investment strategies to institutions.

“Our job is to work with our clients and their challenges, such as the difficulties of a low interest rate environment,” says Kao. “In our six years, we have put footprints in Europe and the U.S.,” he adds.