It’s a good thing these Innovator profiles get written in November. “We get unusually busy in January and February because of all the manager meetings in town,” explains Jacque Millard, Intermountain Healthcare’s investment chief. “A lot of managers come through Salt Lake City after the new year for ski holidays and Sundance [Film Festival], and like to meet with us while they’re here.”
Millard, who has spent the majority of her life in the Salt Lake City area, says there’s a great quality of life in Utah—plenty of opportunities to golf, hike, and play water sports, to name just some of what the area has to offer. Listening from a Midtown-Manhattan building with endless sirens in the background, Salt Lake City sounds idyllic.
But don’t be fooled. Amid the canyons and mountains, Millard was able to transform Intermountain Healthcare’s numerous portfolios over her tenure of more than two-decades.
“When I joined in 1993, there were only two people in the investment office: the then-CIO and me,” she begins. “Although we had a variety of portfolios we were responsible for, they were mainly in fixed income and equities—simple and straightforward. And we stayed relatively vanilla until 2007.” The changes began with adding hedge funds-offunds, private equity, real estate, and private credit until an overhaul of the portfolio construction in 2010. “We looked at our portfolios from a risk-return perspective,” Millard says. “Instead of assetclass buckets, we decided to divide the portfolio into growth, income, and diversification allocations.”
While these fundamental changes were taking place, now-CIO Millard began looking into a strategy a nominator called “courageous.”
“It’s our private equity completion strategy… that is liquid,” Millard explains. The CIO first came across the strategy–then mainly implemented in European defined contribution plans– during an annual meeting with private markets manager Partners Group in 2008. “It was publicly traded and liquid and I thought it was a really interesting approach to private equity,” she continues. “Investors always have trouble reaching their full target allocations. Often times, they become overcommitted and lose liquidity in the process. But having gone through 2008, we were very cognizant of liquidity. So after a lot of discussions with Partners, we were able to create a similar strategy in the US that used a semi-liquid vehicle to find capital calls to maintain our target allocations.”
Thanks to having investments already on the ground for the completion strategy, and using a publicly traded fund in Switzerland, Intermountain Healthcare was able to collect “phenomenal returns right out of the gate,” according to Millard. “The strategy ultimately allows Intermountain Healthcare to better correlate their unfunded commitments with private-market asset class returns, namely private equity and private debt,” the nominator added.
Although it has only been two years since the strategy launched, Millard is staying busy and taking meetings with managers—whether they’re open to new clients or not. “We want to make sure we have relationships with top-tier managers even if they’re not open, because we want to be a preferred investor when they have capacity,” she says. “It’s not just about being proactive, but making sure our mission and vision align with the managers’.”
Health Care Finalists
Ascension Investment Management(David Erickson)
Hartford HealthCare(David Holmgren)
Howard Hughes Medical Institute(Landis Zimmerman)
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center(Jason Klein)
Mount Sinai Health System(Scott Pittman)