Winners of aiCIO's Industry Innovation Awards for Asset Owners

aiCIO congratulates asset owners -- public and corporate pensions, endowments and foundations, and insurance general accounts -- that have successfully understood and acted upon material risks in today's markets, delivering long-term and consistent results to establish a solid foundation for future returns.

From Virginia and San Diego to Alaska and Ontario, asset owners/servicers gathered with aiCIO at New York City’s Chelsea Piers to celebrate their success in innovation.

West Virginia Investment Management Board’s Chief Investment Officer Kristy Watson accepted the award for the public pension fund category (below $15 billion). While, like many public pensions, the fund has historically been neglected by politicians looking to buy today and pay tomorrow, recent changes – both in funding and fund structure – combined with professional management made West Virginia’s board deserving of the award.

Jane Rowe accepted the award on behalf of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which took home a win for the above $15 billion public pension fund category. Due to strong pension governance that removes it almost entirely from the political process, Teachers’ is able to compete with hedge funds and investment banks for talent – resulting in world-class internal alternatives teams that are scooping up large assets worldwide while providing robust returns for their constituents.

Among the endowments and foundations categories, the University of Pennsylvania and the Wallace Foundation took home first places respectively. In 2008, while endowments suffered deep losses, the University of Pennsylvania, led by Kristin Gilbertson, only fell 15% (the best among the Ivies) and avoided the worst of liquidity issues. Meanwhile, Rob Nagel, director of investments at the Wallace Foundation, accepted the award for the fund’s unique success of using the endowment model of investing and avoiding liquidity issues during the financial downturn.

CIO Ray Kanner accepted the award on behalf of IBM, which won the corporate pension fund category. The fully funded pension was recognized for its move toward a liability-driven investing strategy.

Among insurance general account, Swiss Re‘s CIO David Blumer earned the award. “In 2009, we decided to outsource $23 billion in credit investments to BlackRock,” David Blumer told aiCIO in October, confirming Swiss Re’s embrace of the trend of insurance investment outsourcing.

And lastly, Alaska Permanent Fund’s CIO Jeffrey Scott accepted the award for the sovereign wealth fund category. Instead of the traditional equity/fixed-income/alternative silos, the Permanent Fund has been moving toward a risk-based system that defines investments as cash, interest rates, company exposure, real assets, and special opportunities. As many are talking about risk management, Alaska is acting upon it.

aiCIO congratulates the small number of funds that have successfully used all available resources to navigate the risks of today’s markets to be truly considered Industry Innovators.

<p>To contact the <em>aiCIO</em> editors of this story: Kip McDaniel at <a href=''></a> and Paula Vasan at <a href=''></a></p>