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II Is Now Taking Nominations for the Allocators’ Choice Awards

Name the people who are leaders and innovators in pensions, endowments, insurers, health care systems, and other institutional investors before June 17.

Nominations are now open for Institutional Investor’s fifth annual Allocators’ Choice Awards, which will be held on September 13 in New York City. 

The ACAs honor the best in the industry with categories like “Team of the Year,” “Investment Committee/Board of the Year,” and “Chief Investment Officer of the Year.” 

The deadline to submit your nominations is June 17. You can submit your choices here

The nomination form, which will be kept confidential, is open to anyone. We encourage people to include as much detail about their favorite nominees as possible to help editors and reporters with the due diligence process. Submissions will be vetted and finalists will be selected by Institutional Investor’s editorial team. The finalists will be announced later this month. Once the finalists are public, II will release a voting form, which will be available only to asset allocators. Allocators — those who work for pensions, nonprofits, sovereign wealth funds, and similar institutions — will cast their votes for the winners in each category. The winners are chosen by their peers. 

This year’s categories and some winners from past years are listed below: 

Advocate of the Year: 

Think: Allocators fighting effectively for their members, organization, or profession. For example, MassPRIM leader Michael Trotsky’s successful campaign to revamp his team’s compensation or a junior allocator educating the industry and their peers via Twitter. Don’t think: Advocate has to mean ESG or impact investing, or that the person needs to be CIO level. At the 2021 ACAs, Elizabeth Burton, the then-chief investment officer of the Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawaii, was named Advocate of the Year for her singular focus she put on promoting her team. 

Innovator of the Year

Think: Iconoclastic. United Technologies’ annuity-style 401(k) option; The California Pension Employees’ Retirement System divesting from hedge funds. Don’t think: A larger or even just a successful implementation of the industry status quo. The ACAs recognize people who are going against conventional wisdom. 

Investment Committee/Board of the Year

Think: A public pension board that lowers its assumed rate of return, despite the political pressure and enormous costs. Don’t think: Famous names alone are enough. Smith College Investment Committee, led by Deborah DeCotis, left last year’s ceremony with this award in tow. In 2020, the college announced that its investment committee would transition from an outsourced chief investment officer model to an internal manager, the opposite of what many are doing. 

Partnership of the Year

Think: Texas Teachers’ work in developing strategic partnerships with large private equity houses, something everyone ended up copying. Don’t think: Simply buying off-the-shelf asset management services. The Global Peer Financing Association, which includes the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, and State of Wisconsin Investment Board, was voted the winner of the Partnership of the Year award in 2021. The coalition works to create a more effective and transparent environment for securities financing and liquidity and collateral management. 

Team of the Year

Think: The group that once populated the Chrysler treasury function — and that subsequently spread out to become CIOs throughout the corporate and endowment fund universe. Don’t think: Your OCIO; a superstar CIO with deputies no one seems to know. Chief investment officer Edwin Denson and his team at the State of Wisconsin Investment Board won Team of the Year in 2021 after tremendous growth in the office’s investment talent. 

Turnaround of the Year

Think: Cleaning up New York State Common Retirement Fund after the pay-to-play scandal. Don’t think: Doing the same thing as last year; making an already-great fund marginally better. Delta Air Lines and its managing director of pensions, Jonathan Glidden, received this award last year after the pension’s funded status went from “dead last in the S&P 500” to 90 percent. 

Chief Investment Officer of the Year

Think: Kim Lew at Carnegie Corp. Any investment chief exhibiting all-around excellence at portfolio construction, risk management, asset allocation, manager selection, board relations, talent development, and passionate energy for learning from her peers — or one who has built a team achieving all that. (Lew was CIO of the Year in 2019 for her work at Carnegie. Not  surprisingly, II honored Lew, who is now CIO of Columbia Investment Management Company, with its Lifetime Achievement Award last year. If you have a few minutes, watch her truly inspiring speech on our web site.) 

Don’t think: Only CIOs of the biggest funds. James Davis, the CIO for OPSEU Pension Trust, received this honor in 2021, a testament to his all-around excellence in everything from portfolio construction and risk management to manager selection and arguably the hardest task of all — developing talent in one of the toughest job environments in recent memory. 

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