2022 Theme: Metamorphosis – redrawing the investments map together

 

Join us at Mercer’s United States Global Investment Forum in June to discuss the evolution that will define markets and investing for many years to come. The Forums bring together asset owners, asset managers and senior investment professionals to discuss current and emerging themes impacting investors. They also provide an opportunity for you to catch-up with peers and expand your knowledge and professional network.



Agenda – what you can expect

 

The Forum offers a day of main sessions, breakout and keynote addresses, as well as hundreds of 40-minute separate virtual manager-led sessions. Some of the topics that will be covered in the agenda include the latest themes and opportunities, sustainable investing, private markets, transformational investing and more. Watch this space for details on the agenda.


Monday, June 13, 2022

      2:00 – 5:00 pm   |   Asset manager briefing
      5:00 – 7:00 pm   |   Welcome reception

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

      8:00 – 9:30 am   |   Registration and breakfast
  • 9:30 – 9:50 am   |   Metamorphosis: Themes & opportunities in 2022

    Jo Holden, Global Head of Investment Research
    Stan Mavromates, Chief Investment Officer, Americas

    Metamorphosis, the theme of this year’s forum, is the process of transitioning from one natural state to another. Substantial and profound changes are rapidly reshaping the world as we know it, with significant implications for investors. There will be winners and losers in this transition. In this session, we will highlight the key trends and opportunities that in our view will drive long-term success. We challenge you to think differently and this session will provide the starting point.

  • 9:50 – 10:20 am   |   Taking flight: Managing portfolios during transition

    Moderator: Samantha Davidson, US Investment Solutions Leader
    Christopher Berglund, President, Trustees for the Diocese of Western Massachusetts
    Nicholas Millikan, Managing Director and Head of Investment Strategy, CAIS Group
    Matt Stroud, Senior Director, Global Pensions, Marsh McLennan

    After identifying top-of-mind themes and opportunities related to diversification and sustainability during a period of portfolio transition, we will turn to the practitioners’ perspective. A panel of investment leaders navigating a range of uncertainties in this environment will share their perspectives on the “what, why and how” for the changing investment landscape in three key themes we’ve identified under the broad topic of Metamorphosis.

  • 10:20 – 10:40 am   |   Principles for building a robust equity portfolio


    Chris Kuhlman, Senior Investment Consultant
    Larry Vasquez, Senior Portfolio Manager

    Equity market returns can be unpredictable in the short term, which may lead to decision-making being inconsistent with long-term investment objectives. How can investors ensure their portfolio is sufficiently robust to navigate the twists and turns of markets over time? In this session, we present our principles-based framework for equity portfolio construction.

  • 10:40 – 11:10 am   |   Sustainability in practice

    Moderator: Max Messervy, Head of Sustainable Investment, Americas
    Paul Cummins, Managing Director of Public Equities, New York State Teachers' Retirement System
    Samantha McCafferty, Associate Director, Compliance and Sustainable Investing, Harvard Management Company 

    Sustainable investing is a topic that is rising up the agendas of many institutional investors, whether those institutions are:

    - Seeking to better incorporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into their decision making.

    - Considering their portfolios' exposure to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) themes.

    - Wishing to allocate capital to impact investing.

    - Wishing to allign their porfolios with moral or ethical values.

    While there are many approaches to sustainability, stakeholders are increasingly demanding action on a range of challenging topics, including climate change, human rights and other social issues. This discussion focusses on the experiences and practical examples offered by two leading institutions in how to meet institutional obligations while navigating and managing stakeholders' expections.

      11:10 – 11:40 am   |   Break
  • 11:40 am – 12:10 pm   |   Asset pool breakouts

    Asset pool breakouts

    1.     Endowments and foundations: From ideas to implementation

    Christine Bradford, Senior Investment Consultant
    Russ LaMore, Endowment and Foundation Practice Co-Lead
    Geoff Wilson, Senior Investment Consultant

    At the beginning of each year, our endowments and foundations team highlights a range of challenges and opportunities we believe institutions should be thinking about in the coming year. In this session, we discuss how asset owners are taking these ideas from an investment committee discussion item through to implementation.

    2.     New challenges for healthcare allocators

    Chris Grimm, Healthcare Practice Co-Lead
    Patrick Sartor, Investment Director

    While many hospitals and healthcare systems have seen improved operations and balance sheets since the beginning of the pandemic, older challenges remain and new ones have appeared. Soaring labor costs and increasing cash needs place greater demand on portfolios to help achieve desired investment outcomes at a time when we’ve experienced sharp declines in both stocks and bonds. In this session, we discuss how healthcare system allocators are positioned to face these challenges and how they have expanded the role of investments beyond returns.

    3.     Opportunities and challenges facing insurance companies

    Greg Halagan, Co-Head of US Insurance
    Chris Tschida, Co-Head of US Insurance

    Insurance companies continue to face a challenging environment, including low relative interest rates and rising inflation. The impact of these factors on income, profitability and the management of insurance company investment portfolios remains as relevant as ever. Our insurance leaders will discuss the opportunities and challenges facing insurers in the current environment, as well as major trends within the sector, such as alternatives and sustainable investing.

    4.     Private markets in wealth management portfolios

    Moderator: Gregg Sommer, US Financial Intermediaries Leader
    Brian Katz, Chief Investment Officer and President of Colony Investment Management – The Colony Group
    Nicholas Millikan, Managing Director and Head of Investment Strategy, CAIS Group
    Brian Pollak, Partner, Portfolio Manager, Evercore

    Private markets are no longer just for institutional investors: high-net-worth investors are increasingly demanding the enhanced risk-return and diversification benefits that private markets offer. Join our session to hear about the unique considerations of private markets within wealth management, understand how they fit into asset allocation models, and hear how private markets are being used in high-net-worth investors’ portfolios.

    5.     Defined contribution: Staying innovative in DC plans as the cost of fiduciary insurance rises due to litigation

    Jennifer Flodin, Defined Contribution Leader
    Kelly Henson, Defined Contribution Leader
    Matthew Russell, Partner, Morgan Lewis

    Plan fiduciaries have to balance attempts to achieve successful retirement outcomes for their participants with operating in an environment laden with litigation and increasing liability insurance premiums. Join us for a discussion on how to strike that balance in today’s challenging markets. 

    6.     Defined benefits: Can we inflate pension deficits away?

    Neeraj Baxi, US Defined Benefit Investment Research Director
    Stephanie Lane, Senior Financial Strategist, Investment Solutions             
    Andrew Scheufele, US Head of Investment Strategy, Delegated Solutions

    With inflation rising rapidly, DB plan sponsors are wondering what the future looks like and how they can position their plans for the best chance of success in an inflationary environment. In this session we explore where inflation might go from here and the implications for DB plans, considering the potential for liability reduction from rising rates against the impact of inflation and central bank policy on asset returns. We share insights on which investment strategies will insulate against adverse effects and the actions that plan sponsors can take to weather inflationary environments.

      12:10 – 1:40 pm   |   Lunch
  • 1:40 – 2:00 pm   |   Inflation: Where do we go from here?

    Anthony Brown, US Director of Capital Markets
    Chris Canstein, Strategic Investment Research Specialist

    After years of sustained low and stable inflation, the combined effects of shifting secular forces, the enormous monetary and fiscal expansions of the last two years, a supply/demand imbalance emerging from the pandemic, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have driven inflation to levels not seen in the US since the 1980s. Investors are no longer preparing for the onset of inflation, but rather looking to position for what comes next.  What are the different paths inflation could take from here? Are we in the middle of a wholesale regime shift? What is the market now pricing in, both in terms of inflation levels and the Fed’s response? Investors need to answer all these questions and more if they are to reposition their portfolios for the next phase.

  • 2:00 – 2:25 pm   |   Inflation on the rise: five asset classes to consider

    Listed infrastructure - Liisa MacNicholas, Investment Consultant
    Private debt - Jason Sookhoo, Senior Investment Consultant, Not-for-Profit Investment Practice
    Gold - Matt Parlengas 
    Natural Resources - Nick Barron, Senior Investment Consultant
    Commodities - Ashley Holder, Investment Consultant

    In this session we consider five asset classes that may not already be investors' portfolios. We examine their potential to add value into investors' portfolio structures with a particular focus on their inflation-protection properties.

  • 2:25 – 2:45 pm   |   Your turn: How will you respond to inflation?


    Katie Hockenmaier, US Defined Contribution Research Director

    Taking the asset owner’s view, join a lively discussion about how to best address uncertainties with a changing inflationary environment.

  • 2:45 – 3:15 pm   |   Empowered collaboration: Decision-making strategies for committees

    David Jackson, Senior Leadership Consultant
    Robert Smith, Leadership Consultant

    Committees face the same human challenges that can impede the work of any team or group — decision traps, poor group dynamics and confirmation as well as other biases that can render outcomes less effective that they would be otherwise. We take a practical look at pointers for team success in this interactive session.

      3:15 – 3:45 pm   |   Break
  • 3:45 – 4:15 pm   |   Asset class breakouts

    1.     Public equity: Porfolio construction and implementation discussion

    Chris Kuhlman, Senior Investment Consultant
    Kevin Murphy, Senior Equities Research Specialist
    Matt Parlengas, Portfolio Manager

    Building diversified and resilient equity portfolios can be challenging in the current market environment. Mercer’s principles-based framework can help ensure clients remain disciplined through market volatility. Join us as we discuss the practical considerations when building and implementing equity portfolios.  

    2.     Real estate: The evolution of property sectors

    Paul Kolevsohn, Head of North American Real Estate
    Rohit Nerurkar, Real Estate Research Specialist
    Allison Yager, Global Leader, Real Estate

    Over recent years, secular  trends around the globe continue to provide previously unseen real estate investment opportunities. This breakout explores the evolution of property sectors and discuss how thematic tailwinds such as demographics and technology are driving real estate and providing investment portfolios with valuable diversification dynamics.

    3.     Private equity: Where are we in the journey?

    Richard Pugmire, Alternatives Business Leader, US & Canada
    Jim Treanor, Alternatives Leader, US & Canada

    How has private equity progressed over the last 20 years as an asset class? Its illiquidity premium is still positive, but has reduced over time. Why? And where is that premium going in 2022? Additionally, this session explores how this asset class can be used as a powerful way to implement ESG and impact goals.

    4.     Navigating the hedge fund roadmap

    Stephen Ewen, Global Deputy CIO - Hedge Funds
    John Jackson, Global Leader, Diversifying Alternatives Boutique

    Approaching the hedge fund universe can be complex and confusing for those new to an allocation.  In this session we discuss the hedge fund landscape, key characteristics and their benefits.  We also explore how investors should construct a comprehensive and effective allocation , and how to mitigate some of the pain points of implementation. 

    5.     Sustainability and ESG: Where do we go from here?

    Sarika Goel, Global Head of Sustainable Investment Research
    Max Messervy, Head of Sustainable Investment, Americas

    Significant development has taken place in the industry with a greater degree of focus by investors on integrating, engaging and investing with a sustainability mindset. In this session we discuss the evolution of ESG and sustainability, and we discuss what investor expectations are for the future.

    6.     Investor perceptions on implementing retirement income in defined contribution plans

    Moderator: Spencer Barnard, Defined Contribution Investment Specialist
    Veenita Bisaria, Manager Investment & Risk Management, Tennessee Valley Authority Retirement System
    Susan Rowley, Senior Consultant

    Hear how Mercer thinks about the range of retirement income solutions and how we worked with two asset owners, Tennessee Valley Authority Retirement System and American Bar Association Retirement Funds, to design different approaches to retirement income for their respective participant populations. Learn how they navigated the wide range of tools, as well as guaranteed and non-guaranteed investment options , available to assist retirees. 

  • 4:20 – 4:40 pm   |   Diversity, equity and inclusion in the investment community

    Moderator: Amy Ridge, Investment Director – Private Markets

    Tamara Larsen, US ESG Client Leader

    Asset owners are continuing to ask the investment community for data and outcomes related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), rather than just intent. Portfolio questions, as well as data and transparency concerns are some of the obstacles in realizing DEI investment strategies. In this session, we offer an overview of current DEI investment trends, tools, and practical solutions that the entire investment community can use where ever they are on their DEI investment journeys.

  • 4:40 - 4:50 pm   |   The perfect storm: ESG, inflation and a tight labor market


    Pat Tomlinson, President, US & Canada

  • 5:30 pm   |   Evening at Fenway Park

    Please meet in hotel lobby for departure to stadium


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

      8:00 - 9:00 am   |   Breakfast
  • 9:00 – 9:25 am   |   Should the market dictate portfolio structure?

    Jay Love, US Investment Leader
    Susan McDermott, US Strategic Research Director

    The long cycles of markets can lead to significant shifts in market structure, whether it be at a regional level (US growth), sector level (technology) and even stock level (FANGS).  This leaves investors to choose between accepting the market’s structure as appropriate or taking the risk of being different, with potential rewards or penalties. In this session, we review the long cycles in these areas, discuss the rationale for and against accepting market structure as the most effective portfolio, and consider the challenges, rewards and risks of choosing a different structure.

  • 9:25 – 10:20 am   |   Keynote: Disruption and metamorphosis: What will 2022 mean for our future?

    Moderator: Holly Verdeyen, US Defined Contribution Leader
    Margaret Brennan, Journalist and Moderator, Face the Nation

    Supreme Court decisions, midterm elections, historic inflation, global pandemics, a European war, Chinese escalation, growing inequality; there is no doubt that 2022 will be an historic year for economic and societal change. Our keynote speaker, Margaret Brennen, brings us her views on US politics, the upcoming elections and global affairs through the lens of what the rest of the year might bring, who will most influence the outcomes, and what lasting changes are in store for the business environment we all operate in

      10:20 – 10:45 am   |   Break
  • 10:45 – 11:15 am   |   Data as intelligence: How data science is driving success in private markets

    Moderator: Danny Church-Taylor, Global Head of Alternatives Data, Technology and Tools
    Shar Kassam, COO, Nasdaq Asset Owner Solutions
    Meg Starr, Global Head of Impact, The Carlyle Group
    Clay Willingham, VP Commercial Strategy, Private Markets, S&P Global

    Private markets is one of the fastest growing areas of investment and will likely make up a growing portion of asset owners' portfolios going forward. Transparency is increasing, and investors are demanding more granular data to make real-time decisions. At the same time, the focus on ESG, DEI and impact data is growing. How are investors using data science and AI to inform their asset allocations and fuel more intelligent outcomes?

  • 11:15 – 11:35 am   |   Hedge funds: A timely discussion

    Dave McMillan, CIO, Hedge Funds

    The growth of the hedge fund industry continues, with peak level assets today driven by recent performance and consistent net inflows.  That said, industry assets are just a fraction of total risk assets relative to traditional and other alternative asset classes.  In this session, we explore some previous barriers to portfolio implementation, why investors should consider diversifying alternatives right now and how to harness the increasing value of unconstrained active management and alternative exposures in order to navigate the environment in the years ahead.

  • 11:35  – 12:05 pm   |   Thoughts on a changing world


    Moderator: Jay Love, US Investment Leader
    Neeraj Baxi, US Defined Benefit Investment Research Director
    Texas Hemmaplardh, US Not-for-Profit Co-Leader
    Katie Hockenmaier, US Defined Contribution Research Director

    Investors face a difficult investment environment in 2022: generationally high inflation and rising Interest rates, falling valuations and uncertain economic growth, geopolitical shifts and societal imperatives have all combined to leave many investors feeling unsure about next steps. After a day and a half discussing these topics in depth, this panel brings together a number of Mercer’s investment leaders to host an interactive discussion on how to apply the ideas and strategies discussed during the Forum to the varying situations of asset owners.

  • 12:05 - 12:15 pm   |   Towards a brighter future

    Christine Mahoney, US Investments & Retirement Leader

      12:15 – 1:15 pm   |   Lunch

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

      11:00 am – 7:00 pm   |   Learn, Share, Connect Sessions (Virtual)

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

      9:00 am – 5:00 pm   |   Learn, Share, Connect Sessions (Virtual)

Thursday, June 23, 2022

      10:00 am – 2:00 pm   |   Learn, Share, Connect Sessions (Virtual)


Meet the speakers

Each Forum features top thought leaders from within Mercer and the investment community and renowned experts shaping the way we think. We look forward to sharing these names with you soon.

Keynote speaker

Margaret Brennan

Journalist and Moderator, Face the Nation

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    Margaret is moderator of CBS News’ premier Sunday public affairs program, Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan. The second-ever woman to host the venerable CBS News broadcast, she also serves as the network’s chief foreign affairs correspondent based in Washington, D.C., and contributes to all broadcasts and platforms.
     

    Margaret first joined CBS News in 2012 and has held roles including State Department and White House Correspondent. Prior to that, she anchored and reported for Bloomberg Television around the globe, was a correspondent at CNBC with a focus on the consumer during the 2008 financial crisis and also contributed to various NBC News programs. Brennan began her career as an award-winning producer for CNBC’s Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser.
     

    Margaret holds a bachelor’s degree (summa cum laude) in foreign affairs and Middle East studies with a minor in Arabic from the University of Virginia. As a Fulbright-Hays Scholar, she studied Arabic at Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan. She is also the recipient of an honorary doctor of letters degree from Niagara University, NY.



Spencer Barnard

Defined Contribution Investment Specialist

Mercer

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    Spencer Barnard is a Principal and Defined Contribution Investment Specialist for Mercer’s Wealth business, serving as the investments subject-matter expert for U.S. mid-market clients. He is located in Boston, following five years in Mercer’s Seattle office as an Investment Consultant covering the West Coast. In his current role, Spencer works with defined contribution plan sponsors across the U.S to bring Mercer’s point of view on a variety of investment topics.
     

    Spencer’s primary responsibilities involve meeting with defined contribution Plan sponsors to opine on plan investment strategy and structure, perform investment manager due diligence and selection, and examine defined contribution market trends. Spencer is the Chairperson for Mercer’s retirement income strategic research team and sits on Mercer’s target date fund strategic research team. He also actively contributes to Mercer’s intellectual capital efforts in the defined contribution space.
     

    Spencer holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with concentrations in finance and economics, from Gonzaga University. Spencer is a CFA Charter holder and is a CIPM certificate holder.


Nick Barron

Senior Investment Consultant

Mercer

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    Nick is a Principal in the San Francisco office of Mercer Investments. He works with plan sponsors of defined contribution and defined benefit plans as well as endowment and foundations, providing comprehensive investment analysis, investment manager evaluations and fiduciary support. He is also a member of Mercer’s Target Date Fund Strategic Research Team and Target Date Fund Lead Research Committee. 
     

    Prior to joining Mercer, Nick spent six years with a registered investment advisor located in New York City with over $4.3 billion of assets under management. He served as an associate portfolio manager to provide investment services and analysis for individuals, families, corporations, foundations and retirement plans. 
     

    Nick holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Columbia University, Series 7 and 66 licenses from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and California Life, Accident and Health, and Variable Annuity insurance licenses. He is a CFA® charterholder and an Accredited Investment Fiduciary®. 


Neeraj Baxi

US Defined Benefit Investment Research Director

Mercer