The University of Texas/Texas A&M Investment Management Company has promoted Rich Hall to the role of chief investment officer.
Britt Harris, who has helmed the $68 billion fund’s investment office since June 2017, will remain with UTIMCO as its chief executive officer and president. The moves will be effective January 1, and Hall will continue to report to Harris.
“Working together with the talented UTIMCO team, Britt Harris and Rich Hall have been not only excellent investors but also truly outstanding leaders,” said Jeff Hildebrand, chairman of UTIMCO’s board, in a statement. “This will set UTIMCO’s leadership team up well for years to come.”
Since Hall joined UTIMCO in 2018, Harris has been preparing him to become CIO. Harris told the UTIMCO board in September that the time was right — Hall was ready to become CIO, and that he was ready to step back.
“You go through a whole bunch of different emotions,” Harris said of making the decision to step back. “I came to the reality, which is that I should be doing things in my career that ‘only I can do.’ I should be working on things that have a big multiplier for the company”
Moving forward, Harris plans to focus on big picture, longer-term strategy for UTIMCO in his pared-down role. “I’m unleashed to work on these things that really matter to me.” This includes focusing on issues like the rise of China, the “technological assault on mental labor,” and, of course, the energy transition. He will work on talent development and mentorship, as well as long-term strategic planning for the fund.
Harris and Hall worked together at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, where Harris had been the CIO for roughly ten years before joining UTIMCO. Hall was the head of private equity at Texas Teachers before leaving for his alma mater’s endowment, the Harvard Management Company, where he served as managing director and head of private equity. Hall then joined UTIMCO from HMC in 2018.
Earlier in his career, Hall worked in mergers and acquisitions and investment banking at organizations including Bank of America, Tomkins plc, Dell Ventures, and Deutsche Bank. Before earning his MBA at Northwestern University, Hall served as an intelligence officer for six years in the United States Navy.
“Rich is just absolutely a strong investor,” Harris said. “The key to being a really effective investor is your emotional stability, your character, your willingness to prepare and utilize the very best people, and having a relatively low ego.”
Since Hall joined UTIMCO in 2018, the organization’s assets have risen by over $24 billion. During that period, UTIMCO generated a 15.9 percent return, outperforming policy benchmarks by 2.2 percent, according to the announcement.
According to Harris, Hall does have big challenges ahead. UTIMCO believes that a 40-year-long economic cycle marked by falling inflation has ended.
“We’re all going to have to think about how you diversify when the centerpiece of your operation is not going to produce amazing numbers,” Harris said, adding that the portfolio will need to tilt toward a re-inflationary environment. He added that the transition of generational wealth, from boomers to generation x and millennials, will also result in changing policies and investment dynamics that will affect UTIMCO’s portfolio.
“It's going to be Rich’s job to figure all of that out,” Harris said. He believes that Hall and his team can do it, too. “I feel very confident in what we’re doing with Rich and the rest of the company, and I feel a great amount of peace with this.”