A Korean pension fund for scientists and engineers has appointed Jeong Du Yeong as its new chief investment officer.

Jeong started at the Korea Scientists & Engineers Mutual-aid Association (SEMA) yesterday on an extendable 3-year contract.

SEMA’s recruitment process started in January this year and at the time there were believed to be 29 candidates for the position. All of them were reported to be industry experts from asset management companies and institutional investors in Korea.

Prior to joining SEMA, Jeong worked for Meritz Fire Insurance between 2008 and 2014. Jeong held various positions there including head of the investment management team.

Jeong said: "It is my first mission to enhance SEMA's investment capability for more proactive global investments. I will be emulating top-notch pension funds and endowments in developed countries." He added that SEMA's priority will be global investments, and for that purpose, all Korean institutional investors including SEMA should be equipped with adequate investment infrastructure.

Park Han Jae was CIO of SEMA from 2011, and he will now lead SEMA's management planning division.

It is understood that SEMA’s portfolio is comprised of securities, alternative investments (real estate and social overhead capital), and investment banking. Alternative investments are believed to make up around 70% of its portfolio. This unusually high proportion is due to the fact that it needs to generate higher returns for its members. An industry source indicated that alternatives make up a much lower proportion of its peers’ portfolios - such as the Korean Teachers Credit Union (39.5%) and the Public Officials Benefit Association (49.2%).

SEMA was established in 2003 with a mandate to provide local scientists and engineers with pensions and welfare services. SEMA members include employees of scientific and technical research institutions. The association had about $2.6 billion in assets under management as of the end of 2014, which is expected to increase to $3.4 billion in 2015. SEMA has more than 4,400 members.