Much has been written about the challenge of generating returns when yields and risk premia are relatively low. It is, however, just as important for investors to recognize the many sources of economic and political fragility in an environment in which we may be reaching the limits of monetary policy effectiveness. Investors are therefore compelled to consider a wide range of possible futures and to build portfolios that are likely to be resilient to a range of scenarios.
In response to this challenging set of circumstances, investors need to look both inward and outward. Looking inward, investors should seek to identify any characteristics of their approach, objectives or circumstances that might provide a competitive edge or raise the importance of certain categories of risk. Looking outward, investors can then seek to build a portfolio of assets and strategies that maximizes their specific advantages and improves the likelihood of meeting their long-term objectives while managing the risk of capital impairment.
Committee members and staff from university endowments, charitable foundations, health care organizations, family offices, and other non-profit institutions from across the country will join our Mercer investment consultants to meet and discuss issues around this year’s theme of Navigating an Unpredictable World. The conference begins with a Welcome Reception on the evening of September 25 and formally opens the morning of September 26, concluding mid-day on September 27. The full agenda includes ample time to network with your peers and share best practices.
Ritz Carlton St Louis
100 Carondelet Plaza
St Louis, MO 63105
Tel: + 1 314 863 6300
The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis is located in the posh neighborhood of Clayton, a charming oasis in the city of St. Louis. Guests will experience true Midwestern warmth and hospitality in this arts and garden district, home to a thriving culinary scene, the beautifully landscaped Forest Park and an array of museums and boutiques within a short distance of our hotel. Relax in our newly enhanced luxury guest rooms- among the largest in the city, explore our elegant meeting spaces or savor our four in-house dining options including a Sushi bar or signature cocktails in The Lobby Lounge. Gather with friends in The Cigar Club or dine in The Grill, a delight for the senses. Guests can recharge in our expansive Fitness and Massage Center with exclusive ESPA products and indulge in our Senses of Missouri experiences.
1. Online – Book your group rate for Mercer - Investment Client Summit
2. Phone – Call 1-800-960-7056 or 1-800-241-3333 and mention the Mercer Investment Client Summit to receive the discounted rate.
The deadline to make reservations has now past. Please contact Laurah.Mungai@ritzcarlton.com to inquire about booking our a room at our conference rate.
Higher Education Segment Leader
Chris Adkerson is a partner and serves as the Higher Education Segment Leader at Mercer. He is based in the St. Louis office of Mercer’s Investments business. He advises endowments and foundations with assets ranging in size from $100 million to more than $1 billion in outsourced CIO and traditional consulting capacities. He is a voting member of the Endowment and Foundation Investment Committee.
Prior to joining Mercer in 2011, Chris was a senior consultant at Hammond Associates. He assisted clients with crafting investment policy, asset allocation, investment manager selection, performance evaluation, portfolio operations and governance.
His expertise in serving nonprofit clients was recognized by Foundation & Endowment Intelligence, which named him its 2013 Consultant of the Year.
He received a BSBA in finance from the University of Missouri in 1995 and has since earned his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designations. Chris is a member of the CFA Institute, as well as the St. Louis Society of Financial Analysts.
Senior Investment Consultant
Michael Ancell is a partner and chairs the Healthcare Research Team for Mercer’s Investments business. He is a voting member of the NFP Investment Committee. He has advised healthcare clients since 2004.
His previous career includes serving as head of financial institutions equity research for Banc of America Capital Management, helping manage Bank of America’s $300 billion of assets under management. Prior to that, he was a senior financial services analyst for Edward Jones, helping construct and monitor model equity portfolios. Michael began his professional career as a financial institution examiner with the FDIC.
He holds an MBA in finance from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Missouri Columbia with a BA in finance and has received his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. Michael served as President of the CFA Society of Saint Louis and serves on the board of Tri-County Trust Company.
Partner and National Segment Leader for Healthcare
David is a partner at Mercer and is the National Segment Leader for Healthcare, responsible for leading the Healthcare Investing practice. Located in Mercer’s Atlanta office, David consults primarily to healthcare organizations, corporate pension plans and other institutional asset pools on projects relating to asset allocation, investment manager selection, performance evaluation and fund operations and governance. In addition, David is a member of Mercer’s Strategic Research Committees for Fixed Income, Healthcare and Alternatives (hedge funds, private equity, infrastructure) and a member of the Real Estate and Fixed Income Ratings Review Committees. David serves 13 client relationships.
Prior to joining Mercer in 2006, David spent more than 10 years at United Parcel Service (UPS). During that time, he managed the company’s multibillion-dollar defined benefit plans. At UPS, he performed rigorous quantitative analysis, handled operational issues and led numerous manager searches and due diligence efforts. David also specialized for three years, managing the alternative investment portfolio for the funds. During his years at UPS, David also spent time as a corporate cash management trading specialist, responsible for investment of corporate cash (a multibillion-dollar portfolio), FX hedges, commercial paper issuance, stock buyback and oversight of outside managers.
David holds a BS in business administration and political science from Presbyterian College and an MBA from Georgia State University with a concentration in finance. David is a CFA® charterholder and a member of the CFA® Institute and the Atlanta Society of Financial Analysts.
Chief Investment Officer
John Barker joined Partners HealthCare in 2012 as Chief Investment Officer responsible for oversight of Partners’ $14.0 billion portfolio of investment and pension assets. Prior to Partners, John was a managing director at Harvard Management Company (HMC) overseeing HMC’s externally managed domestic equity, foreign equity, emerging market equity and high yield investments. John joined HMC from Wellesley College’s investment office, where, from 2002 through 2008, he oversaw the development of the College’s hedge fund and alternative asset portfolios. Prior to Wellesley, John was a principal at Paratus Capital, a middle market buyout firm, and he began his career as an oil and gas research analyst at Cambridge Associates.
John is a trustee of Brooks School investment committees and is an independent member for the Cargill/MacMillan Family’s Waycrosse Investment Council in Wayzata, Minnesota. John received his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and his AB from Dartmouth College.
Director of Strategic Research
Anthony is a partner and serves as US Director of Strategic Research for Mercer’s Investment Consulting business. He is responsible for generating investment strategy research and leads the US dynamic asset allocation efforts. In addition, he is the portfolio manager for a fund offered by Mercer Global Investments. Anthony joined Mercer with the acquisition of Hammond Associates in 2011. He joined Hammond Associates in 1996 and served as the firm’s chief investment officer. He was primarily responsible for developing and maintaining the firm’s asset allocation models, assisting clients with investment strategy and preparing the firm’s quarterly research report.
Anthony has a bachelor’s degree in finance with a minor in economics from the University of Missouri. He is a CFA charterholder and a member of both the CFA Institute and the St. Louis Society of Financial Analysts. Anthony has written more than a dozen articles, one of which was published in the Winter 2000 edition of the Journal of Investing. A second article, co-authored with Dennis Hammond, was published in the June 2001 edition of NACUBO’s Business Officer Magazine.
Executive Vice President and Head of Public Policy
Libby Cantrill is an executive vice president and the head of public policy for PIMCO. In this capacity, she helps coordinate the firm’s response to public policy issues and analyzes policy and political events for the firm’s Investment Committee. She is also a member of the firm’s Americas Portfolio Committee. Additionally, she is the co-head of PIMCO’s New York Office and is a founding member of PIMCO Parents, an initiative focused on supporting parents and families at PIMCO, and PIMCO Women, whose mission is to attract, retain and develop women at PIMCO. Prior to joining PIMCO in 2007, she served as a legislative aide to a member of Congress, where she focused on fiscal and economic policy, and she also worked in the investment banking division at Morgan Stanley. She has 13 years of investment experience and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School. Libby received her undergraduate degree in economics from Brown University. She is a CFA charterholder.
Chris Ebersole is a principal and a member of Mercer’s Financial Strategy Group in the Philadelphia office of Mercer’s Investments business. Chris assists clients in managing the level of risk in their retirement plans through analysis of their asset allocation, contribution policy, plan design and risk transfer strategies. Prior to joining the Financial Strategy Group in 2010, Chris had been an actuary and consultant in Mercer’s Retirement business. Chris has also served on the Global Retirement Financial Management Tools Group and has managed our monthly S&P 1500 funded status updates and the Global Corporate Pension Risk Tool. Chris has helped develop strategies for many church plans over the past several years as well as other nonprofit organizations and has a strong understanding of the unique objectives and considerations of those entities.
In addition to traditional retirement consulting and actuarial work, Chris’s roles have included serving as an expert for our asset/liability modeling tools, producing pension risk assessments and serving as the national project manager for the S&P 500 Retirement Database and Mercer’s annual report How Does Your Retirement Program Stack Up? Chris joined Mercer in 1995 after spending a short time with Godwins, Booke and Dickinson (now Aon) in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.
Chris holds a BA in mathematics from the University of Delaware. He is a CFA® charterholder, a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA), a member of the American Academy of Actuaries (MAAA) and an Enrolled Actuary under ERISA (EA).
Deputy CIO — Hedge Funds
Stephen Ewen is a principal and Deputy CIO — Hedge Funds with Mercer, dedicated to hedge fund investments and research. In this capacity, Stephen is co-portfolio manager for Mercer’s North America-based discretionary hedge fund offerings in excess of $4 billion in assets as well as a voting member of the firm’s Macro Ratings Review Committee. As such, he works with a large number of clients, both large and small, consisting of: university endowments, charitable foundations, healthcare, corporate pension and high net worth. Stephen is highly engaged in Mercer’s broader hedge fund research efforts as a mentor to the Hedge Fund Research Team, providing advice and guidance in addition to working alongside researchers to conduct primary manager research and also acts as a leading source of new manager ideas and intellectual capital.
Stephen joined Hammond Associates in October 2005, which was subsequently acquired by Mercer in January 2011. He has spent his entire career in alternative investments dating back to 1998 when he worked at HFR Consulting/HFR Asset Management. Stephen joined Swiss American Corp, a member of the Credit Suisse Group, in 2002 and, while there, focused on hedge fund manager selection for the Private Banking division’s $10 billion in hedge fund assets. In 2004, he joined NIP as a hedge fund analyst overseeing and advising on nearly $1 billion in hedge fund of fund assets.
Stephen received a BS from Miami University with a double major in finance and decision sciences. Stephen is a CFA charterholder and a member of the CFA Institute as well as the CFA Society of Cleveland.
Chief Investment Officer and Managing Director
Marc joined Deutche AM in 2005 with 12 years of industry experience. Prior to his current role, he served as the Global Head of Risk and Performance Analysis, responsible for the development of allocation, risk and performance tools. In this role, he worked with global and regional CIOs and the research team to formulate house views and strategy. Before joining Deutche, he was a portfolio manager at Renascent Capital Management and co-founder of the Real Estate Derivatives Group at Prebon Yamane. Previously, Marc served as a senior analyst and portfolio manager at R.D. Capital and in private and public real estate at Morgan Stanley, Heitman/PRA Securities Advisors and INVESCO Realty Advisors.
Marc has a BBA in accounting with a concentration in finance and an MPA in taxation from The University of Texas at Austin.
Global CIO of Mercer Private Markets
Michael is the Global CIO of Mercer Private Markets (MPM) and serves on the firm’s Alternative Investment Committee and the MPM Investment Committee. His duties include portfolio management and manager selection across private equity, private debt and natural resources investments. He is also responsible for secondary and co-investment activities. Michael also serves as portfolio manager for the Mercer Private Investment Partners series of multimanager private market funds.
Prior to joining Mercer, Michael spent two years as Managing Director of EndPoint Capital, LLC, an SEC-registered investment advisor, managing in-kind stock distributions from venture capital partnerships for private equity investors. Prior to EndPoint, Michael worked for four years as a principal trust analyst at Southern Company Services, where he was responsible for overseeing private equity and fixed-income strategies as well as other trust assets. Prior to his positions at Southern Company Services, he was an equity analyst/trader for Equity Investment Corporation, a mid-cap value equity money manager.
He earned both his BBA and MBA degrees from the University of Georgia, with an emphasis in finance. He has received his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and is a member of the CFA Institute.
Carl Gordon, PhD, CFA
Partner and Co-Head of Global Private Equity
Carl L. Gordon, PhD, CFA, is a founding partner and Co-Head of Global Private Equity at OrbiMed. He was a senior biotechnology analyst at Mehta and Isaly from 1995 to 1997. He was a Fellow at The Rockefeller University from 1993 to 1995. Carl received a PhD in molecular biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1993) and a bachelor of arts from Harvard College (1987). Carl was included on the Forbes Midas List of top venture capital investors in 2014.
Blake is an Investment Consultant in Mercer’s Wealth business, focusing on endowments and foundations. Prior to joining Mercer, Blake was a Portfolio Associate within the Investment Management Consulting Group of Wells Fargo Advisors. In this role, he worked with financial advisors to construct portfolios for high-net-worth individuals and small to medium-size institutions.
Blake received his Bachelor of Science in finance from Indiana University.
Head of Asset Allocation Team
Ben Inker is head of GMO’s Asset Allocation Team and member of the GMO Board of Directors. He joined GMO in 1992 following the completion of his BA in Economics from Yale University. In his years at GMO, Mr. Inker has served as an analyst for the Quantitative Equity and Asset Allocation Teams, as a portfolio manager of several equity and asset allocation portfolios, as co-head of International Quantitative Equities and as CIO of Quantitative Developed Equities. He is a CFA charterholder.
Senior Investment Consultant
Beth Johnson is a senior investment consultant at Mercer. She currently services seven endowment, foundation and family office clients with more than $6 billion in aggregate assets under advisement. For these clients, Beth focuses on projects relating to asset allocation, investment manager selection, performance evaluation, and fund operations and governance. In addition, Beth is a voting member of Mercer’s Endowment and Foundation Investment Committee.
Beth’s prior professional experience includes work as an investment director for Vanderbilt University’s then $2.2 billion endowment, where she was responsible for investments across traditional equities and bonds, marketable alternatives, oil and gas, and private equity. She started her investment career as an investment analyst at Duke Management Company, managing investment projects across all asset classes for Duke University’s then $4 billion endowment office.
Beth attended the University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill, where she completed the coursework and exams of the PhD program in economics. She holds BAs in economics, mathematics, computer science and German from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. Beth has also earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designations. She is a member of the CFA Institute and a past board member of the CFA Society of St. Louis and the Nashville Society of Financial Analysts.
Throughout her career, Beth has remained active in her community, sitting on several not-for-profit boards of directors, previously serving as the Investment Committee Chair and then Chair of the Board for the Missouri Foundation for Health, a $1 billion healthcare foundation in St. Louis. In 2008, she received the Foundation & Endowment Money Management’s Non-Profit Consultant of the Year Award.
US Foundation Segment Leader
With more than 30 years of investment experience, Russ LaMore is a partner with Mercer and is Senior Director of Foundations. During his career, Russ has assisted endowment and foundation clients with assets ranging from $20 million to more than $1 billion. His focus has been on client education, governance, asset allocation and manager implementation.
Prior to its acquisition by Mercer in 2011, Russ served as President of Hammond Associates, where he was responsible for all facets of client service and business operations. Russ joined Hammond Associates as a consultant in 1996, became a principal consultant and Director of Consulting Services in 1998 and was promoted to firm president in 2007. Throughout this period, Russ has served as a lead or co-lead consultant on numerous client engagements. Before joining Hammond Associates, Russ spent eight years with Boatmen’s Trust Company (now Bank of America), where he was actively involved with performance measurement as Investment Performance System Manager for all of the Trust Company’s accounts, with assets totaling in the billions.
Russ received his MBA in finance from Washington University and graduated summa cum laude from DePauw University with a BA in economics, where he was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa society. Russ is a Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (Wharton School of Business) and has earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designations. He is a member of the CFA Institute, the CFA Society of St. Louis and the CAIA Association.
Principal and Senior Investment Consultant
Joe is a Principal and Senior Investment Consultant in the St. Louis office of Mercer’s Investments business. Joe assists defined benefit and defined contribution plan sponsors on performance measurement and analysis, evaluating and selecting investment managers, and developing investment policies and objectives. He currently provides these services to a variety of corporate, foundation and endowment plan sponsors.
He joined Mercer from Asset Consulting Group, where he served as a consultant for five years. At Asset Consulting Group, Joe was responsible for investment policy, portfolio construction, manager selection and performance evaluation for the Private Client Services Advisory Practice. Prior to joining Asset Consulting Group, Joe was employed at A.G. Edwards for seven years where he was the manager of the Institutional Consulting Group. At A.G. Edwards, his group assisted financial consultants and their institutional and high-net-worth clients with all aspects of the investment process. Joe had previously been associated with Price Waterhouse LLP, in its Personal Financial Services group, and Stifel Nicolaus, in its Investment Consulting Services division, where he began his career.
Joe is a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) and holds the Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) designation earned under a joint program between the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA) and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Joe holds a Bachelor's in Finance and Political Science from the University of Illinois.
Jay Lichter, PhD
Jay B. Lichter, PhD, is an experienced biotechnology and pharmaceutical business executive with more than 25 years of experience in management, scientific research and business development. Throughout his career, Dr. Lichter has applied his exceptional combination of business acumen and deep technical knowledge to creating commercially successful biotech companies and identifying the commercial potential of scientific discoveries at their earliest stages. Dr. Lichter is the inventor on more than 260 patents and patent applications for several Avalon portfolio companies, including more than 60 issued patents. Dr. Lichter has been either directly responsible for or participated in licensing or merger and acquisition deals valued in excess of $3 billion.
Dr. Lichter led Avalon XI investments in Fortis Therapeutics and T-Rx and led Avalon X investments in AristaMD, Otonomy (NASDAQ: OTIC) and SynthoRx as well as the following investments in Sitari, Silarus, Thyritope, CadheRx, Adrenergics, Calporta, Iron Horse and PDI as part of the $495 million strategic collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline. Dr. Lichter led Avalon investments in Afraxis, Carolus, Otonomy, Zacharon, RQx, Sova and Aratana (NASDAQ: PETX). He currently serves as a member of the board of directors for Avelas, AristaMD, SynthoRx, COI Pharmaceuticals, Otonomy, Fortis Therapeutics, T-Rx and Sova.
Dr. Lichter held postdoctoral positions in human genetics at Yale University and pharmacogenetics at DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Co. Dr. Lichter obtained his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a BS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Co-Founder and Managing Partner
Criterion Capital Management
Christopher Lord is the co-founder and managing partner of Criterion Capital Management, LLC. Prior to starting Criterion in 2002, Lord was Co-Founder and Director of Research for Pivotal Asset Management, a technology fund focused on late-stage private and post-IPO investing. Prior to Pivotal, Chris was a senior analyst at Amerindo Investment Advisors from 1996 to 1999, and from 1992 until 1995, he worked as a portfolio manager at Scudder, Stevens & Clark. Chris received his BA in religious studies from Dartmouth College and his MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business.
Director of Investments
Rutgers University Endowment
Jason MacDonald is Director of Investments at Rutgers University Endowment. Prior to joining Rutgers in 2016, Jason was Senior Portfolio Manager for Private Markets with the New Jersey Division of Investments. In that role, he was responsible for investing the Division’s $20 billion alternative investment portfolio and managing the underlying portfolio team. Jason began his career at the Division as an analyst within the private equity portfolio.
Jason holds a bachelor of science in environmental business economics from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in business administration concentrating in finance from St. Peter’s College.
CIO — Hedge Funds
Dave McMillan is a partner with Mercer and Chief Investment Officer for Hedge Funds. He serves on the firm’s Alternative Investment Committee and the Hedge Fund Ratings Review Committee. In addition, he is the portfolio manager for several funds offered by Mercer Investment Management, Inc.
In 1999, Dave joined Hammond Associates, which was acquired by Mercer in 2011. He served as Director of Hedge Funds and was responsible for the creation and management of the firm’s hedge fund research and consulting efforts. Dave designed the firm’s hedge fund manager due diligence and post investment manager monitoring processes and shaped Hammond’s hedge fund portfolio construction philosophy. During his career, he has constructed more than 30 multimanager hedge fund portfolios, including customized direct programs and commingled funds. Previously, he was responsible for Hammond’s traditional manager research efforts.
Dave has more than 20 years of experience in the financial, banking and investment advisory industries, including more than 12 years dedicated to hedge fund research and investing. He has been a featured speaker at various industry conferences on the subjects of manager selection, hedge fund investing and hedge fund risk monitoring.
Dave received a BSBA in finance from The Ohio State University and holds the CFA® designation. Mr. McMillan is a member of the CFA Institute.
Toby Moskowitz, PhD
Principal and Dean Takahashi Professor of Finance
Toby Moskowitz contributes to research on asset pricing and investment issues related to domestic and international strategies for AQR’s Global Alternative Premia Team. He currently holds the Dean Takahashi Chaired Professorship in Finance at Yale University, is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and was the Fama Family Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business from 1998 to 2016. He has won numerous awards for his academic research, including the 2015 Bernstein Fabozzi/Jacobs Levy Award for the best article in The Journal of Portfolio Management. In 2007, he was awarded the Fischer Black Prize by the American Finance Association, which recognizes the best financial economist under the age of 40, and the Kauffman Prize Medal for Distinguished Research in Entrepreneurship in 2012 by the Kauffman Foundation, which recognizes the largest contribution to entrepreneurial research under the age of 40. His work has been cited in numerous print media, television appearances and in a 2005 speech by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. Toby earned a BS in industrial management/industrial engineering with honors and an MS in finance from Purdue University as well as a PhD in finance from the University of California at Los Angeles.
Mr. Palmer originates, underwrites, executes and monitors investments for Golub Capital. Prior to joining Golub Capital, he worked for Balyasny Asset Management (BAM), where he sourced and evaluated public equity and fixed-income investments within the Special Situations Group. Prior to BAM, Mr. Palmer spent seven years with Merrill Lynch, most recently as a vice president in the Leveraged Finance group in London, where he structured and underwrote senior and subordinated debt offerings for leveraged buyouts in the EMEA region. He also worked in Merrill Lynch Capital’s Corporate Finance group in Chicago, where he originated, structured and executed leveraged finance and asset-based transactions in the middle market. He began his career at LaSalle Bank and earned a BS in finance from the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Investments Leader, Not-for-Profit Segment
Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Jessica Portis is responsible for the development and delivery of investment-related services for our nonprofit client base in the US. Prior to taking this role, Jessica served as a consultant responsible for advising nonprofit clients on asset allocation design, investment manager selection and strategy implementation.
Prior to joining Mercer, Jessica was with Summit Strategies Group for 15 years, serving in a number of capacities. Most recently, she was Director of Consulting and also served as a lead investment consultant for the firm. As a member of the investment consulting team for nearly a decade, Jess was actively involved in the daily management and administration of client relationships. Her clients included nonprofits, corporations and public pension funds. Before joining the consulting team, she was a valued member of the firm’s Manager Research Group, where she was responsible for conducting manager due diligence for both domestic and international equity asset classes.
Jessica received her BS in accounting with honors from the University of Missouri — St. Louis, and she is a CFA charterholder. She is a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society of St. Louis. She currently serves on the boards of directors of both the Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls and the Visiting Nurses Association. Jessica was previously the chair of the Investment and Audit Committee for the St. Louis Area Foodbank and served on their board of directors for six years.
US Business Leader for Not-for-Profit OCIO Services
Travis Pruit is a principal and the US business leader for delegated services for endowments and foundations. He is based in the Boston office of Mercer Investments. Travis has more than 23 years of investment experience.
Prior to joining Mercer, Travis was a senior advisor and Co-Chief Investment Officer for Arnerich Massena, Inc. As senior advisor, Travis provided investment consulting services to institutional clients, including foundations, endowments, and corporate and public retirement plans. As Co-Chief Investment Officer, Travis assisted the CIO and Investment Committee in setting the investment direction for the firm, identifying market opportunities, researching broad economic factors, managing the development of capital market assumptions and participating in all facets of manager selection.
Travis has significant experience in the stewardship of institutional assets, including endowment and foundation portfolios, defined contribution and defined benefit retirement plans, and corporate cash. His approach is to focus on client-centered solutions designed to meet specific near-term and long-term objectives, including appropriate definition and consideration of risk for the investing organization and to the responsible fiduciaries and how to incorporate that consideration of risk into portfolio advice and implementation.
Travis received his BS in business-finance from Oregon State University, and has earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.
Austin Roberds is a principal in the St. Louis office of Mercer’s Wealth business, with more than 11 years of industry experience helping defined benefit and defined contribution plan sponsors with all aspects of their investment strategies. He focuses on 401(k) and 403(b) plan investment lineup construction, investment performance monitoring, fee benchmarking, administrative oversight and plan governance. He advises plan sponsor clients on investment policy development, asset allocation, investment manager selection and investment structure.
Austin is a specialist in 403(b) plan oversight and governance, speaks frequently on 403(b) litigation and trends and has authored a white paper on the 2016 litigation against higher education plan sponsors. He has also worked extensively in defined contribution plan design, participant education and enrollment. Austin is a member of Mercer’s Stable Value Strategic Research Team, Mercer’s Higher Education Vertical Team and the Missouri/Iowa Leadership Team.
Prior to joining Mercer, Austin was a DB and DC plan specialist for four years with Northwestern Mutual and began his career as a financial advisor with Edward Jones. Prior to working in the financial industry, Austin was a high school teacher.
Austin holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Millikin University and a bachelor’s degree in English from Southern Illinois University.
Managing Director and Global Head of Infrastructure Debt
Erik V. Savi, Managing Director, is Global Head of Infrastructure Debt within BlackRock’s Real Assets Platform, which comprises $33 billion in client AUM across both private and public debt and equity strategies globally. He is responsible for building BlackRock’s infrastructure debt strategy globally, managing the platform’s investment origination activity and leading the development of infrastructure debt products. Prior to joining BlackRock in 2013, Mr. Savi was a managing director of Energy Originations at WestLB AG. Previously, he was a managing director of Power, Energy & Infrastructure Principal Investments at Merrill Lynch. Before Merrill Lynch, Mr. Savi built and led the Global Power, Energy & Infrastructure Investments business for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife) and served as MetLife’s Global Co-Head of Private Corporate Debt. In addition, He was an investment committee member for MetLife’s Private Placement, Leveraged Finance and Private Equity units. Mr. Savi earned a BS in chemical engineering from the Cooper Union School of Engineering and an MBA in finance from New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business.
Private Markets Investment Consultant
Erik Sebusch a principal in the Mercer Private Markets boutique. Prior to Mercer, Erik was a partner with San Francisco-based venture capital/growth equity manager Presidio Partners FKA CMEA Capital. His primary duties were managing the corporate strategic investors, traditional institutional limited partners and early-stage technology investing. In addition, Erik served on the boards of multiple technology companies, led technology investments and served on the Investment Committee while at CMEA. Prior to CMEA Erik spent nearly 12 years at UPS. Erik began in New Product Development and Innovation then moved to the Corporate Venture Capital group and, lastly, worked as a private markets portfolio manager to a $5 billion allocation to private assets in the $30 billion UPS pension. Prior to UPS, he spent 10 years working as a high-net-worth financial consultant for Merrill Lynch and in private practice for individuals and family offices.
Erik holds an international MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management and serves on the limited partner advisory boards to several funds.
CIO — Investments, Not-for-Profit Segment
Ken Shimberg joined Mercer’s Boston office in May 2015 as Chief Investment Officer of the Not-for-Profit client group. He leads the delegated (OCIO) endowment and foundation investment process and manages the portfolio investment team. As chair of the Endowment and Foundation Investment Committee, Ken oversees asset allocation and manager selection decisions that drive delegated client portfolios and provide direction to advisory client relationships.
Prior to joining Mercer, Ken was a managing director at the Brown University Investment Office. During fiscal year 2013, Ken served as Interim Chief Investment Officer and led the 19-member investment office team managing the University’s $3 billion endowment. He managed marketable securities and private investment portfolios and recommended strategic asset allocation and tactical adjustments for the endowment. He joined Brown in 2001 as its first director of private investments and led the development of the University’s private equity portfolio.
Before joining Brown, Ken was a principal at the Princeton University Investment Company and Nassau Capital, an independent firm that was responsible for Princeton’s private investment portfolio. Prior to his work at Nassau Capital, Ken worked as a vice president at J.P. Morgan & Co., where he served in the corporate finance and structured finance groups.
Ken is a member of the board of The Wheeler School and serves as Chair of its Investment Advisory Committee. He is also a board member of Rhode Island Public Radio. Ken is a former investment committee member of Lifespan Hospitals.
Ken earned a BS in management science with a concentration in finance from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a CFA charterholder and a member of the Boston Security Analysts Society.
Senior Investment Consultant and Portfolio Manager
Shaum Shrinivas is a principal, senior investment consultant and portfolio manager at Mercer. He works with endowments, foundations and other nonprofit organizations on all aspects of their investment portfolios, including investment policy creation, asset allocation and manager selection.
Shaum is also a member of the firm’s Global Investment Strategy Research Team. In that role, he serves on the firm’s Capital Markets, Multi-Asset, Endowment and Foundation, and Custom Target Date Committees. These committees are responsible for overseeing the portfolio construction process for delegated clients. Additionally, Shaum is a member of manager rating review committees, which are responsible for oversight of the manager research process. He helps publish the firm’s Market Environment and Dynamic Asset Allocation Reports, which provide analysis and commentary on the current macroeconomic and capital market environment. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining Mercer’s capital market assumptions and related toolkits. Additionally, Shaum leads the economic and market discussion during the firm’s weekly internal meetings.
Shaum graduated summa cum laude from Saint Louis University with a BSBA in finance. He has received the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and is currently a Level II CAIA candidate. Shaum previously served as Treasurer for the CFA Society of St. Louis. Prior to joining Mercer, he worked at Hammond Associates in various research and consulting roles of increasing responsibility. He started his career working within several different roles at Edward Jones.
Sally Staley is a board member, investment committee chair/member and advisor to the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors of institutional investment management. She retired in 2017 from Case Western Reserve University, where she had worked for 15 years, serving since 2006 as CIO for $3 billion of endowment and retirement plan assets. She began her financial career in international bond market research and sales with Salomon Brothers and Merrill Lynch and transitioned to investment management at the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, where she established the international fixed income program and managed an international bond portfolio. Sally later worked as senior consultant with the investment management consulting practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers.
She holds a master of international affairs degree from Columbia University and a bachelor of arts degree from The College of Wooster, where she currently serves as a trustee and investment committee member. She is also a board member and investment subcommittee chair for Great Lakes Theater Festival Inc., a member of the investment advisory board for Fairport Asset Management, a member of the advisory committee of the Certified Investment Fund Director Institute and a former board member and investment committee chairperson for the Saint Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland.
Central Market Defined Contribution Segment Leader
Paul Staples is the Central Market Defined Contribution Segment Leader. Paul has client consulting responsibilities in addition to helping Mercer further define, develop and implement client solutions in the defined contribution marketplace.
Paul has more than 20 years of investment experience, having most recently led the defined contribution practice at Summit Strategies Group, where he served as primary consultant to clients in the healthcare, not-for-profit, corporate and public markets, with individual plan assets in excess of $1 billion.
He has been featured in PIMCO’s DC Dialogue, participates in public speaking engagements and has authored white papers on defined contribution plan topics.
Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Paul graduated summa cum Laude from Northeastern University with a BSBA and is a Level II candidate in the CFA program.
Founder and Managing Partner
The Column Group
Peter Svennilson founded The Column Group (TCG) in 2007 and has worked in venture capital and finance for more than 30 years. He was Chairman of Aragon Pharmaceuticals from startup until it was sold to Johnson & Johnson in 2013 and was Chairman of Seragon Pharmaceuticals until it was sold to Genentech/Roche in 2014. He is currently Chairman of ORIC Pharmaceuticals and a board director of Gritstone, NGM Biopharmaceuticals, Immune Design and Constellation Pharmaceuticals.
Prior to TCG, he was the founder and managing partner of Three Crowns Capital, where he helped finance large parts of the venture capital for biotech companies such as Tularik, Rosetta, PTC, Chemocentryx, Rinat, Tercica, Somalogic, Infinity and Fiveprime. Prior to Three Crowns Capital, he was Associate Managing Director in charge of European Investment Banking Origination at Nomura in London. Mr. Svennilson is a trustee at The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.
Carissa Tepovich is a senior investment consultant at Mercer. In this role, Carissa is responsible for consulting to not-for-profit institutional investors comprising primarily endowments and foundations. Her experience consists of working with a wide variety of clients, including higher education, healthcare, independent and community foundations and religious organizations.
Carissa has more than 13 years of experience in the industry. She joined Hammond Associates in 2005 as a performance analyst and was promoted to associate consultant in 2008. Hammond Associates was acquired by Mercer Investment Consulting in 2011. Subsequently, Carissa was promoted to principal consultant. She holds a bachelor of science degree in finance from Eastern Illinois University and a master of science degree in economics and finance at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.
Bryon Willy is a principal in the Manager Research Group of Mercer’s Investment Consulting business in Chicago.
Bryon works in the Fixed Income Boutique as Head of North American research. He is a member of Mercer’s US Manager Ratings Review Committee, Global Fixed Income Manager Ratings Review Committee, LDI Committee and Manager Discretionary Committee.
Bryon joined Mercer from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, where he was Lead Market Risk Analyst. In this position, Bryon was responsible for daily risk analysis and hedging on the entire $90 billion GSE portfolio, including mortgages, CMOs, agency debt and derivatives. Previously, Bryon worked for ABN AMRO in the Capital Markets group, hedging and managing trading portfolios. He also worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois. He brings more than 20 years of experience to Mercer’s Wealth business.
Bryon earned his MBA in finance at DePaul University and his BS in finance and marketing from Indiana University. He is a CFA charterholder and a member of the CFA Society of Chicago and the CFA Institute.
Senior Investment Consultant
Geoff Wilson is a principal and senior investment consultant at Mercer. He works with not-for-profit organizations and family offices on all aspects of their investment portfolios. Within Mercer, Geoff is a voting member of the Endowment and Foundation Investment Committee, which is responsible for approval of asset allocation and manager selection decisions for Mercer’s discretionary E&F client portfolios as well as for setting strategic guidance and developing Intellectual capital to assist all E&F clients. Additionally, he is a member of Mercer’s Alternatives Strategic Research Team. Geoff joined Mercer in 2011 through the acquisition of Hammond Associates, an institutional consulting firm primarily focused on not-for-profit clients. Prior to joining Hammond Associates in 2006, Geoff worked in St. Louis as a research coordinator for a financial planning firm and as a research assistant at a small-cap equity management firm.
Geoff received his bachelor’s degree in finance from Saint Louis University and has earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designation. He has been on the CFA Society of St. Louis Executive Committee for the past four years, serving in various committee chair roles and most recently serving as a director on the board. Geoff is also a volunteer lecturer for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’s financial literacy program, which delivers personal finance lessons to diverse classrooms across the St. Louis region.
Head of North America, Mercer Sentinel Group
Freeman Wood is a partner and Director of the Mercer Sentinel® Group in Mercer’s Investments business. Freeman joined Mercer in 2009 and has a broad background and significant expertise in risk management. He leads Sentinel’s Americas team, which specializes in operational, transaction and service provider risk management consulting. This includes custodian evaluation, investment manager operational risk assessment, transitions management and risk management governance.
Prior to joining Mercer, Freeman led quantitative market and credit risk management teams within large banks, corporate treasury functions and regulators and has experience in derivatives trading and alternative investment portfolios. Immediately prior to joining Mercer, he was head of investments and risk management for a hedge fund of funds. Prior to that, Freeman was with Ford Motor Company for eight years in a variety of roles, including head of Enterprise Risk Management and head of International Treasury. Freeman’s other experiences include four years with BNP Paribas as head of market risk for proprietary trading in New York, six years with the Federal Reserve in banking supervision and three years of equity options trading on the floor of the CBOE.
Freeman holds a bachelor of science degree from Allegheny College and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Watch video clips from last years event
Welcome and Opening Remarks with Jessica Portis, Partner Investments Leader, Not-for-Profit Client Segment
Austin Roberds, Consultant, Mercer Investments discusses The Evolution of Not-for-Profit Defined Contribution .