On Monday, the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), the province’s US$ 129 billion manager of pension and sovereign capital, announced the appointment of David Scudellari as Senior Executive Managing Director, and Head of International Investments. David served for seven years at the US$ 185 billion Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments) where he opened the New York office; built a US$ 22 billion global credit business, and acted as interim CFO and Head of Credit and Private Equity. The poaching seemed amicable, and shortly after the announcement, AIMCo and PSP announced a new agreement that will allow AIMCo leverage PSP’s private credit origination capabilities, which David built.

He will not be AIMCo’s only executive with prior experience in other Canadian funds: Mark Wiseman, Chairman of the Board, was CPP’s CEO; Jim Kehoane, also part of the Board, was HOOPP’s CEO; Marlene Puffere, recently appointed CIO, served for nine years in HOOPP’s Board; and Chief Economist JD Tremblay spent some time at CDPQ before joining in 20210. However, only 6% of AIMCo’s employees have spent time in other funds, and the Alberta manager is a "net exporter" of talent when compared to its peers.

The ten largest Canadian funds manage US$ 1.6 trillion in financial capital and 13,500 people in human capital. Given the “Canadian model” of insourcing most of the investment management, attracting and retaining the top talent in the country and globally has become a key for success among these institutional investors. Most funds look at each other when it comes to human capital, using benchmarks for executive compensation. However, for years, there was a non-written rule of no-poaching that seems to be a thing of the past, judging from recent events.

In fact, 2022 was a game of musical chairs. BCI and CPP exchanged managing directors: Eugene Esmonde (PE) changed Toronto for Victoria, and Shafiq Ebrahim (Quant), Victoria for Toronto. Ontario’s HOOPP hired as new Head of Private Equity Lori Hall-Kimm, who came from CPP and, prior to that, from OTPP and OMERS. PSP’s new CEO, Deb Orida, came from CPP, too; and CDPQ found its new Head of Private Equity, Martin Longchamps, in PSP. South of the Canadian border, CalPERS’ new CIO developed its career in OTPP and IMCO.

Looking at the matrix of cross employees, we can see that among the Top 10 Canadian funds, there are five "net exporters" of talent (OTPP, CDPQ, OMERS, CPP and AIMCo), and five "net importers" of talent (IMCO, BCI, HOOPP, PSP and OPTrust), due to their smaller size, recent creation or remote location. The latest fund to be established, IMCO, has hired 150 alumni of other funds (42% of the total payroll), most notably from CPP, including the CIO, the COO, and the Head of Investment Strategy.

This effect is less noticeable in other regions, due to secrecy laws that make funds more hesitant to hire professionals from other SWFs. The exception to the rule is newcomer ADQ, which, in a similar fashion than IMCO, has hired over 40 staff (18% of its total payroll) from other Abu Dhabi funds, including ADIA, ADIC, EIA, and most notably, Mubadala, including its CEO.

In the context of disrupted markets and funds seeking yield in private markets, the fight for talent could just become more intense in the months and years to come.

Related tags Canadian Funds Personnel