Salary constraints hamper San Diego’s CIO search

The San Diego County Employees Retirement Association threw in the towel with respect to its search to replace CIO David Deutsch, who resigned in March. A spokesperson says that, after an exhaustive search, the board terminated its efforts to recruit a new CIO and instead has decided to outsource the work to a third-party investment professional who would serve as the pension fund’s portfolio strategist.

The city pension fund has already identified a candidate, says spokesperson Johanna Shick, but because details of the arrangement have not been finalized, they cannot yet name the person. Shick indicated that hiring a new CIO was problematic because salary constraints make it difficult to attract and keep top talent.

Board documents indicate that 12 candidates were interviewed for the CIO position in early May and a recommendation regarding a final candidate was expected at the pension fund’s June meeting.

Elsewhere, the giant Canadian institutional investor Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec ended its search for a new CIO in late July with the appointment of Roland Lescure as executive vice-president and chief investment officer. Lescure will be responsible for setting the investment strategy and asset allocation for the overall portfolio. He will also oversee investments in liquid markets (equities, fixed income, currencies and commodities) and will play a key advisory role for private equity and real estate.

Lescure starts his new position this fall, although a precise date has not yet been determined, says a spokesperson. Lescure is currently CIO at Groupama Asset Management, one of the largest asset management firms in France.

Also in Canada, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) appointed a new CIO in late July. Michael Latimer will become the pension fund’s executive vice president and CIO, effective Jan. 1, 2010. Latimer has held the position of president and CEO of Oxford Properties, the real estate arm of OMERS, since 2004. As CIO, he will be responsible for the OMERS investment entities that manage public equities, fixed-income securities, private equity, real estate and infrastructure assets.

In other hiring news, the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System is searching for a deputy division director of private markets. The person will work with the deputy director for investments to oversee the operations of the alternative and real estate asset classes. Responsibilities include assessing asset allocation; initiating new approaches in the two asset classes; recommending external investment portfolio managers; and overseeing all externally managed separate and commingled accounts. The city is still accepting applications and hopes to fill the position by late September, says spokesperson Norm Nickens. —Nancy Gordon