After her portfolio delivered a 24.63% return over the past four years, Elisabeth Bourqui, head of pension assets and liabilities at engineering firm ABB Group, is leaving to join the $351 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) as chief operating investment officer (COIO).
As COIO, Bourqui will lead the business and operations functions of the investment office, providing leadership on matters related to investment policy, and managing investment compliance, operational risk, and audit-related functions. She will serve as a member of the investment office’s senior management team.
“Elisabeth brings a tremendous depth of global experience to CalPERS,” said Ted Eliopoulos, CalPERS’s chief investment officer. “Elisabeth will strengthen our efforts to innovate, and to integrate business practices across our global investment platform. She will also be instrumental in the implementation of business strategies particularly in private equity and asset allocation.”
At ABB, Bourqui created an extensive online infrastructure that allowed the finance team to perform risk assessments, financial modeling, and asset analysis on 100 defined benefit and about 50 defined contribution plans from Zurich. ABB’s multi-asset pension portfolio achieved a total return of 24.63% over the last four years—beating many top-quartile multi-asset funds in the market. She used robust data analytics systems and artificial intelligence back-testing to better understand scenario projections and to keep her board informed on medium- and long-term decisions. She won an Innovation Award from CIO in 2017.
Prior to ABB Group, she was an investment consultant with Mercer, specializing in public and private pension funds, and has more than two decades of experience with pension asset management, consulting, and investment banking.
“This is an exciting opportunity,” Bourqui told CIO. “I look forward to working with the investment team and serving the hard-working members of CalPERS.”
Bourqui holds a doctorate in mathematics and financial mathematics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich; is a member of the Swiss Society of Actuaries; and is fluent in French, English, German, and Japanese.
She will replace Wylie Tollette, who left CalPERS in December 2017 to rejoin Franklin Templeton, and will start at CalPERS on May 14.