Mercer has lost two top executives with the exits of Steve Schubert, most-recently leader of strategic client partnerships and future opportunities, and Ray King, senior consultant private markets and alternatives in the group’s investment division.
After four years with Mercer, Schubert, one of Australia’s leading actuaries, has made the move into funds management, taking up the role of chief operating officer with the Melbourne-based Cooper Investors last month.
Schubert, a popular speaker on the industry conference circuit, joined Mercer from Russell Investments with much fanfare in 2011. He had spent six years at Russell, as managing director of superannuation, and before that established his career at the former Towers Perrin, where he worked for 16 years.
He said he was not “about to become an operations expert” because Cooper Investors did not need him for that reason since it had an experienced operations team.
“I hope to bring some business management experience from 35 years of working for and advising large organisations,” he said. “Actuaries are trained to look dispassionately at information and facts and chart a course through uncertainty. I think this really aligns with Cooper Investors’ values and investment philosophy. And clients needn’t panic – I’m not about to start picking stocks!”
Meanwhile, King was made redundant from Mercer Investments following a restructure among the firm’s alternatives teams internationally due to the amalgamation with the recently-acquired specialist private markets advisory firm and fund manager SCM Strategic Capital Management of Switzerland.
King, who said he had no immediate plans, has been with Mercer for the past three years since it acquired his former consulting firm, Sovereign Investment Research.
Mercer’s purchase of SCM was closed in early March, adding about 20 alternatives specialists to Mercer’s 30. It gave SCM a presence for the first time in the US and Australia and added US$4 billion of alternatives assets under management to Mercer’s US$13 billion. Overall, Mercer had about US$110 billion under management at the time it announced it would acquire SCM last November.
Like Mercer, SCM started out providing advice to funds and then diversified into the provision of investment vehicles for its smaller clients. It still provides advice and builds bespoke portfolios for larger pension funds.
Mercer has had a checkered history with consulting staff in alternatives. The firm let go of its Sydney-based global head of alternatives, Dragna Timotijevic, in November 2012 after she had spent eight years with the firm.
* Greg Bright is publisher of Investor Strategy News (Australia)