Nominations for the 2024 Allocator Prizes will open in March.
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Team of the Year
Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, led by CIO Ed Cass
For running arguably the best long-term investment organization ever, as the flagship for — inarguably — the world’s best pension investing nation. Judges pointed to the CPPIB-raised CIOs and senior executives plucked up to run funds worldwide. “One layer down, the talent is, if anything, even stronger.”
Idea of the Year
Steven Wilson, Director of Public Markets, Teacher Retirement System of Texas
For the creative, fun, and shockingly effective Pitch Perfect competition, now in its 10th year of attracting Texas’s best start-up asset managers for a shot at pitching star-studded judging panels.
Wilson spearheads the novel manager-sourcing strategy. The event flexes TRS’s gravitas (i.e. $160B) and his personal charm (more Steve Harvey than Simon Cowell) to promote Texas talent, seed the giant pension fund’s nursery of fledging managers, and inject a little fun into allocating retirement assets. Pitch Perfect just recently graduated its first manager from pitch contestant to TRS seedling and into the Grown-Up Portfolio. Proof of concept.
Investment Operations of the Year
Shaun Ng, Managing Director of Risk, Performance & Investment Operations, and his team at Cleveland Clinic
For going above and beyond at the $15B foundation by creating and implementing a suite of analytical tools to optimize portfolio management, to performance reporting, to staff training. Of Ng’s countless contributions to Cleveland Clinic’s investment office since joining in 2016, a nominator highlighted:
- Development of a master trust, unitizing asset allocation and portfolio management for Cleveland’s four separate pension plans into a single structure so it could be funded.
- Used Cleveland Clinic’s internal data analytics and visualization tools to build a suite for the investment office, including more than 200 dashboards of dynamic data spanning from a bird’s eye view, right down to specific securities held by investment managers.
- Created a tracking tool to identify Credit Suisse’s risk to investment partners after the bank’s 2023 collapse and help firms migrate away from the bank until Cleveland’s exposure became negligible.
“Shaun has created an incredible team with very low turnover that continues to deliver for Cleveland Clinic every day,” says a colleague. “He has been an irreplaceable partner through thick and thin over the past seven years.”
Leader of the Year
Nancy Everett, CEO, Virginia Commonwealth University Investment Management Company
For the radical delegation of responsibility that allowed her progeny to become some of the world’s great investment leaders. Over her illustrious career, Everett has captained a major public pension in Virginia Retirement System, led GM’s pension through the company’s 2009 bankruptcy, and helmed BlackRock’s OCIO unit — all while cultivating the next generation’s finest investors. “Come on,” says a peer. “Is there a career that compares?!”
Best Bad Investment Idea
Canyon Chan, Senior Portfolio Strategist, CSAA Insurance Group
For his $5,000 S&P strike option call, a move described as “genius” by runner-up Steve Blundin. Chan’s bet was all but guaranteed to be worthless by the time the contest closed – a bet so certainly rotten he even tried to convince us to disallow it. “Are options allowed?” he asked us before the 2023 contest began. “That would seem too obvious a bad idea.”
Advisor of the Year
Janet Becker-Wold, Senior Vice President, Callan
For quietly excelling over almost 30 years as an advisor to leagues of institutional clients. An “investment consultant Swiss army knife,” Becker-Wold’s work for Callan spans asset allocation, manager research, investment policy analysis, and portfolio structure. As an international investing and currency management specialist, Becker-Wold speaks, writes, and publishes as a voice of global authority.
The Randy Kim Prize for Fiduciary of the Year
Jeanmarie Grisi, CIO, Nokia
For “getting the corporate board(s) to approve freezing retirees’ benefits through three mergers. Jean convinced them to protect the retirees, and has done so several times,” judges raved. How? “She earned their respect” in the boardroom navigating assets and plans through massively complex M&A deals. Clearly, Grisi has earned the respect of her brightest peers, as well.
For helping investors with portfolio heavy lifting or a quick gut check, time and again. Clients praise BlackRock’s proprietary portfolio management software Aladdin for unifying risk and management across public and private markets, allowing allocators to focus on doing what they do best. And BlackRock, meanwhile, keeps focusing on whatever allocators ask them to.
Institutional RIA of the Year
Buckingham Strategic Wealth
For the “very, very large” St. Louis RIA’s portfolio prowess that rivals any midtown Manhattan institutional manager. "This category is a really good idea,” one judge remarked. “Conversations I've had with these firms place them at the very top of sophistication and quality of any I deal with." Among heavyweight competitors, Buckingham is “a favorite.”
Justin Reed, Co-CIO, Brown Brothers Harriman
For subtly, amiably making investments and relationships whirr. Those who work with Reed as a colleague, client, manager, or peer observe the same professional mastery. “I admire so much his management style, how he handles situations as they come up. When an issue arises, it can flare up into a bigger thing than it actually is, and he’s very good at just focusing in and solving the problems." A role model who’s active in DE&I and powerful in the C-suite, he’s also “the kinda guy I want to have a beer with,” a client says.