2016 knowledge brokers

Rich Nuzum

Customization, innovation, service, stability: These are the four tenants of Rich Nuzum’s consulting philosophy—or as he likes to call it, KISS. Nuzum’s nine-year-old daughter will be the first to point out that the acronym doesn’t quite work in terms of spelling—but as far as investment consulting goes, balancing these four ideals has proven a winning approach. As head of Mercer’s North American consulting and outsourced-CIO (OCIO) businesses, Nuzum oversees $1.7 trillion under consultation and $60 billion under management. “As an OCIO, we understand what it’s like to live with risk,” he says. “We know what the challenges are in terms of implementation.” Implementing the KISS method entails looking at every investment from these four perspectives. “Customization is the idea that every client is unique in terms of their objectives, size, constraints, and governance,” Nuzum explains. “The investment program that we help build and implement needs to reflect that uniqueness.” Innovation, meanwhile, is about embracing new ideas—not just following fads. “For an investor to outperform, they need to be early and they need to be right,” says Nuzum, though he cautions against paying up for ‘new’ trends that are really old ideas repackaged and rebranded (think smart beta). The third leg, service, is results-oriented: how to get ideas into portfolios quickly and effectively. “If you come up with a great idea but you don’t implement it on a timely basis, it can’t add any value,” he continues. And if those three steps are carried out correctly, you’ll have stability. “These are long-term investment programs,” Nuzum says. “If you can stay the course, you’ll outperform over time.” —Amy Whyte