The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan tapped its head of international investing to be its next leader, signalling that the $191-billion fund plans to expand its global portfolio.
Jo Taylor, who has spent most of his 35-year investment career in Britain, will become Teachers’ top executive on Jan. 1 after current CEO Ron Mock retires. He will be just the fourth CEO in its 30-year history.
Mr. Taylor joined Teachers in 2012 to lead Europe, Middle East and Africa operations. The fund elevated him to his current position in August, 2018; he is responsible for the expansion of Teachers’ international operations and has oversight of all of its investments in Europe and Asia.
“Jo’s appointment really is an acknowledgement that for a plan the size of ours to deliver on its mission, international investing is critical," Mr. Mock said Tuesday in an interview with The Globe and Mail. "And Jo has done that all of his life, coming out of the world of private equity, being in charge of our international operations. He was an obvious strong candidate out of a long list of candidates that we had.”
Mr. Mock declined to say how many finalists Teachers considered, and how many were external candidates. In each of the pension plan’s CEO changes, it has promoted from within, choosing Jim Leech in 2007 to replace Claude Lamoureux and Mr. Mock in 2013 to follow Mr. Leech. The fund says that just 44 per cent of its $191-billion in assets are Canadian, with the majority of international investments spread across more than 50 countries. Teachers administers the pensions of the province of Ontario’s 327,000 active and retired teachers.
An electrical engineer by training, Mr. Mock worked at investment dealer Burns Fry Ltd. and founded his own trading company, which collapsed in 2000 after a trader took unauthorized positions. Mr. Mock has been at Teachers since 2001, heading the fixed-income portfolio before rising to CEO on Jan. 1, 2014.
Teachers declined to reveal the men’s ages Tuesday. Public records show Mr. Mock is 66, and past news articles suggest Mr. Taylor turns 58 this year.
Mr. Mock said Mr. Taylor “knows investing, and he’s lived through many cycles of investing. We’re not predicting any market issues at this point in time, but sometime going forward, it’s nice to have somebody who’s lived through some rough cycles at the helm, and Jo definitely covers that box. And besides, he’s just one hell of an amazing person.”
During Mr. Mock’s first five years, Teachers’ fund returned an annual average of 8 per cent, net of investment costs. Teachers says those returns added $14.2-billion to assets above and beyond its policy benchmark returns. Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec returned 8.4 per cent over the five-year period, and OMERS returned 8.1 per cent, net of costs.
Mr. Taylor spent more than two decades with 3i Group PLC, an international private equity and infrastructure investor, where he held a number of senior roles including CEO of its U.S. subsidiary. He holds an MBA from Manchester Business School, awarded in 1984, and a bachelor’s degree from London University, awarded in 1982, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Teachers has three offices outside Canada, in New York, London and Hong Kong. The Ontario Municipal Employees’ Retirement System, with $97-billion in assets at the end of 2018, has 11 international offices, while the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, with $392-billion in assets at March 31, has seven.
“We’re making great progress about being a more international business, building our capabilities as well as being a more differentiated and definitive business in each of those markets that we choose to operate in," Mr. Taylor said.
“I would say a region where we’d certainly like to be evolving and enhancing our activities and our presence would be in Asia, because we see that as an area of opportunity," Mr. Taylor said. "And let’s not forget about the fact we’ve got a really fabulous footprint here in North America, as well as in Europe … sometimes you chase what you don’t have rather deepen your success in where you’re doing really well. And I think we need to try and do both.”
OPTIONAL TRIM Mr. Mock noted Mr. Taylor’s past leadership roles, including “running international operations through multiple time zones,” and his board service at multiple companies during his private-equity career. “His experience is exemplary.”
In 2018, Mr. Mock made $5.6-million in salary, bonus, an award from Teachers’ long-term incentive plan, and an increase in the value of his pension. Mr. Taylor made $2.85-million.
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