The new chief investment officer at Korea’s Government Employees Pension Service (GEPS) says the retirement fund has not generated adequate returns in the past and plans to make significant changes to its asset allocation.
Choi Young-Gwon started last week as CIO, replacing Yoo Seung-Rok, who left in March after three years at GEPS and last month set up an advisory company called Blacknumber Advisory. Choi was most recently CIO of Plus Asset Management.
The Ministry of Security and Public Administration is also reportedly in the process of appointing a new chairman to replace Ahn Yang-Ho, who is expected to step down at the end of his three-year term, in September. This followed false reports that he would depart before that.
In 2013, GEPS reported a return of 3.5%, as against 4.19% for the National Pension Service and 3.9% for Teachers’ Pension, the country’s other two public retirement funds. Analysts say all three are too dependent on domestic fixed income and retain a low allocation to international assets.
GEPS said in May that it would increase its international exposure from 4% to 11% by the end of 2014, and to 19% by the end of 2019, out of which 7.6% will be in fixed income, 7.4% in equities and 4% in alternatives.
The fund also intends to change its allocation weightings. Between 2015 and the end of 2019, it will reduce fixed income to 44.1% from 47.4% of total AUM, boost equity investment to 36.4% from 34.2%. It and increase alternatives exposure to 19.5% from 18.4%.
Fellow Korean entities, such as Korea Investment Corporation, Teachers Pension and the NPS, have also been increasing their alternatives allocation. The same is true of institutions elsewhere in the region, such as Malaysia’s Employees Provident Fund and Thailand’s Government Pension Fund and Social Security Office.
Choi’s contract as CIO is for two years, with an option to extend it by one. Local media reported there were 49 applicants for the CIO position, of which GEPS shortlisted seven.
He started his career at Korea Investment Trust in 1989, and went on to work at Tong Yang Orion Investment Trust, Jeil Investment Trust and KB Trust Division.
Meanwhile, earlier this year GEPS appointed Kim Young-Sung as head of overseas investment. He was previously CIO of Samsung Asset Management’s fixed income division.