Mercy Health’s first CIO, Tony Waskiewicz, parted ways from Mercy on Friday, November 15. According to inside sources, Mercy is re-strategizing how to use their balance sheet, and currently does not have a CIO in place.
Waskiewicz told CIO the separation was amicable, and Mercy released a press statement in recognition of the 10 years he spent building the fund to national recognition.
“Mercy is grateful for Tony’s leadership in establishing an institutional quality investment program for mercy, elevating Mercy to national recognition,” the health care company wrote in a press release. “Tony’s many years of service were instrumental in bringing the investment program to where it is today.”
Waskiewicz told CIO in an email, “It has been an honor to serve Mercy as CIO for the past 10 years. I am grateful for the opportunity given to me by Mercy leadership. I am so pleased and proud of my talented investment team; they are all true stars as investors and as people. I am genuinely thankful for the support, advice and counsel from my award-winning Investment Committee. Without these three groups we could not have accomplished such great success for Mercy.
I will forever be grateful for the last 10 years and am proud of the work done to build and evolve the investment program. I will fondly celebrate the journey, memories and successes of my work with Mercy. Thank you to my many friends, teammates and committee members for an incredible 10 year run!”
An industry leader, Waskiewicz was asked to create an in-house investment program and helped to grow Mercy’s short-term, endowment, and pension plan assets to $3 billion, produced substantial returns, and made improvements in the Catholic healthcare system’s search for alpha.
One of his notable unique investments for Mercy was the seeding of drawdown funds that invest in credit securities facing forced selling. The strategy was first launched by Waskiewicz in late 2015 and seeks to take advantage of illiquidity in certain segments of the credit markets. Waskiewicz first sought to get out of all comingled vehicles with credit exposure and then collaborated with several credit hedge funds to establish drawdown vehicles that would take advantage of forced sellers.
“We first played defense and then we determined the best way to play offense,” he told CIO in December.
Waskiewicz and his team were working on a similar structure to take on the emerging markets debt. He won the CIO Innovation Award in Healthcare in 2018.
Waskiewicz also steered the “innovation fund,” which is a designated pool of capital used for unique investments and new vehicles that advance Mercy’s mission. Through this fund, Mercy “created joint ventures and equity partnerships designed to help Mercy achieve its mission of advancing quality healthcare and improving patient outcomes,” Waskiewicz said.
He told CIO in December, “The members of my team are very talented, entrepreneurial, and mission-focused. They bring to life the pioneering spirit and culture of Mercy and deserve the credit for the success of the program.”
In September, Waskiewicz noted during an interview with CIO that “Mercy’s balance sheet has improved, so we are able to increase risk and take greater advantage of illiquid opportunities, such as private equity.” The plan has 35% in global equities and just 15% in fixed income. Mercy increased its target allocation to private investments to 30% (up from 21%), and allocated 20% to hedge funds as a plan to dampen volatility.
Mercy wrote in its press release, “He has our full support and best wishes for his future endeavors. Mercy is committed to building upon the great foundation he established to elevate Mercy’s program into the future. The other members of the Mercy investment team remain in place, and we request you extend to them your full support.”
Elizabeth Jourdan, Waskiewicz’s deputy CIO, could be the heir apparent.