GIC is world's third most influential and powerful asset owner

PHOTO: Bloomberg

Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC has made a dramatic ascent to became the world's third most influential and powerful asset owner after two large US pension funds.

Led by chief executive officer Lim Chow Kiat, GIC is now third in the Chief Investment Officer (CIO) Power 100 2018, compared to 10th in 2017 and 11th in 2016.

GIC, the world's eighth biggest sovereign wealth fund with US$390 billion of assets under management, bumped out Eloy Lindeijer, CIO of PGGM Zeist in Netherlands, which is now ranked 13th. PGGM has 205.8 billion euros (S$323 billion) in assets under management.

"This award is a recognition of the work of all at GIC," Mr Lim told The Business Times on Thursday. "To protect and enhance our reserves in this highly uncertain environment, we will continue to be disciplined through short-term volatility, take appropriate risks, innovate new ways of investing, and strengthen collaboration with our partners," he added.

According to CIO, "it's easy to flourish in a bull market, but as we saw this year, anything can happen in an instant".

It noted: "Throughout a swathe of sell-offs and rallies, these esteemed asset owners kept their cool (and their patience) to deliver stellar returns and innovate new concepts to their strategy as they rolled with 2018's punches."

The rankings are based on innovation, which accounts for 50 per cent of the methodology; collaboration (20 per cent); talent development (10 per cent); fund size (15 per cent) and tenure (5 per cent). CIO said innovation has been given a higher weighting than previous years as as the pace of change accelerates.

Mr Lim was appointed GIC CEO on Jan 1, 2017. He was previously group chief investment officer of GIC and deputy group president. He joined GIC as a portfolio manager upon graduation in 1993 and rose to head the fixed income, currency and commodities department. He was president, Europe in 2009, overseeing investments and relationships in Europe, Africa and the Middle East before his appointment as president of GIC Asset Management in 2011.

Adopting a long-term approach to its investments has allowed GIC to avoid the drawbacks of pro-cyclicality. But it stressed that long-term investing is not a rigid buy-and-hold approach.

Christopher Ailman, who has been the CIO of the US$224.8 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento, since 2000, has retained his 2017 pole position.

Britt Harris, the president, CEO and CIO at the University of Texas/Texas A&M University Investment Management Company (UTIMCO) - the largest public endowment in America - has kept his second spot. Mr Harris is also a member of the US President's Working Group for Financial Markets and an adviser to the New York Federal Reserve.

The editorial team also consulted an advisory board of former and current CIOs like Raphael Arndt, CIO of Australia's Future Fund; Jagdeep Singh Bachher, CIO, vice president of Investments, University of California; Matt Clark, CIO, South Dakota Investment Council; and Scott Evans, CIO of the New York City Pension Funds.

This article was first published in The Business Times. Permission required for reproduction.