TORONTO — From overseeing a portfolio of $273 billion in assets to leading US$275 billion in “investment strategies,” the head of Canada’s largest pension plan is leaving to join the world’s largest asset manager.
But where will Mark Wiseman, who will step down as CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board on June 13, fit in when he joins BlackRock Inc. as a Senior Managing Director in September?
Wiseman, 46, will be responsible for BlackRock’s global active equity business, which will put him in charge of “over US$275 billion in equity-based investment strategies” around the world, the company said. He will also be appointed to BlackRock’s Global Executive Committee and chair its Global Investment subcommittee. At CPPIB, Wiseman made a name for himself by opening offices and pursuing investments abroad, particularly in South America and South Asia.
Wiseman’s new role could technically amount to a step back in seniority, seeing a big fish move into a much bigger pond. New York-based BlackRock, the world’s biggest money manager, oversees assets of US$4.7 trillion.
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Reporting to President Robert Kapito, Wiseman will no longer be at the top of the organizational chart. BlackRock currently has 11 other Senior Managing Directors, including Global Head of Corporate Strategy Geraldine Buckingham (a McKinsey alumnus, trained surgeon and Rhodes Scholar) and COO Rob Goldstein (a two-time member of the Forbes 40 Under 40 and recognized tech entrepreneur).
BlackRock’s CEO Laurence Fink is 63, while Kapito is 59.
No slouch himself, Wiseman has been an investment wunderkind since the age of 22, when he joined Brent Belzberg’s TorQuest Partners. The Burlington, Ont. native went on to earn a law degree as a Fulbright Scholar at Yale, served as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Beverley McLachlin and spent time in law before returning to finance.
Over the years, Wiseman has held various positions at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, the merchant bank Harrowston and the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell. He was named president and CEO of the CPPIB in 2012 after joining the pension plan in 2005.
“When he phoned to tell me about it, I was very excited for him,” said Jim Leech, the former CEO of the OTPP and a former boss and friend of Wiseman’s. “It’s a truly exciting opportunity. Throughout his entire business career Mark’s always taken huge steps up and people have asked whether he was ready to go there, but he’s proven them wrong every time.”
“I don’t think most Canadians have an appreciation for how sophisticated and successful the large Canadian Pension Plans are. They just take it for granted. To BlackRock, Mark brings a global perspective which Canadian firms have – I think it’s validation of the expertise and sophistication of our large pension plans.”
A BlackRock spokesperson confirmed Wiseman will work out of the company’s New York office, but that his family will remain in Toronto where he will spend weekends. Wiseman’s spouse, Marcia Moffat, joined BlackRock last year as Managing Director in charge of Canada.
Since 2013, Wiseman has worked closely with BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink on the advisory board of Focusing Capital on the Long Term, an initiative to encourage senior executives at institutional investors to focus on long-term capital management over short-term profits.
“Mark has deep experience in both public and private capital markets globally having worked with and driven strong investment results for some of the biggest and most sophisticated pools of investment capital in the world,” Fink said in a statement.
“I think very simply BlackRock has been prioritizing the improvement of its active equity business,” said Neal Epstein, an analyst at Moody’s who covers BlackRock. ” They are doing more to improve active equity and very importantly they have divided active equity into a quantitative approach and a fundamental approach. Hiring such a senior figure is consistent with their objectives.”
Mark has deep experience in both public and private capital markets globally
Wiseman will also take on the role of chairman for BlackRock Alternative Investors, a smaller part of the company that oversees hedge funds and infrastructure. The appointment adds muscle to BlackRock’s alternatives business, an area it has tried to grow in recent years with mixed results.
In December of last year, BlackRock pulled the plug on its US$1 billion macro hedge fund Global Ascent over performance concerns. According to HSBC figures, its US$1.9 billion Obsidian hedge fund had a negative 7.5 per cent year-to-date return as of March 4. Obsidian fell by 0.14 per cent last year.
BlackRock’s hedge-fund business currently amounts to some US$32 billion in assets, much of which came from the 2009 acquisition of Barclays Global Investors. The firm has more than two dozen hedge-fund strategies.