Kevin Uebelein, who on Nov. 19 was named the new CEO of the C$76 billion (US$70 billion) Alberta Investment Management Corp., has some big shoes to fill. But AIMCo's chairman said he's a perfect fit to make the money manager more “client-centric.”
Starting Jan. 5, Mr. Uebelein will replace Leo de Bever, who has been CEO at Edmonton-based AIMCo since it was created in 2008. Mr. de Bever announced earlier this year he would retire as CEO; he will help with Mr. Uebelein's transition and remain at AIMCo until Dec. 31.
“When we recruited Leo, it was tough for us to find an experienced investor to be our CEO,” said Charles Baillie, chairman, in a telephone interview. “Leo was definitely that. He's done an excellent job.”
Mr. Baillie said AIMCo's 27 clients — including pension funds, provincial agencies and the Alberta Heritage Fund — have asked for more input and transparency in how their assets are invested. That makes Mr. Uebelein's background at Fidelity Investments in Boston as global head of investment solutions and later as president and CEO of Pyramis Global Advisors, Fidelity's institutional money management business, all the more attractive.
“The (Alberta) government has been talking to our clients and they've said they want us to move toward a more client-first operation,” Mr. Baillie said. “We felt it's a task that will take five to 10 years to do, and we wanted someone with both a strong investment background and a strong client-focused background.”
He said that Mr. Uebelein and AIMCo will be listening to client concerns, “making sure we don't impose anything on them. The clients will call the shots. They want more uniform benchmarks to control their costs. We want clients to define what they want and what they want reported as well.”
In a statement following his appointment, Mr. Uebelein said, “I am wholly committed to delivering on our mandate of superior risk-adjusted returns for our clients, and doing so within an environment of strong client engagement and excellent organizational health.”
Mr. Uebelein's background in private equity in an earlier role as head of alternative investments at Prudential Financial Inc. also was praised by Mr. Baillie. “That private equity background is useful. Illiquid markets are where we're strongest,” he said.
Mr. Baillie said while there were “really good people attracted to this position, Kevin really looks at it as a calling. He was so driven to work here.”
Messrs. Uebelein and de Bever already have started working together as the transition begins. “They were together at the (AIMCo) board meeting” on Nov. 20 in Edmonton, Mr. Baillie said.
Mr. Uebelein was unavailable for comment. Denes Nemeth, AIMCo spokesman, said Mr. Uebelein would be available for interviews when he starts his new job in January.
At Pyramis, Mr. Uebelein was replaced in 2013 by Michael A. Jones as president and CEO. Mr. Jones himself is leaving Pyramis at the end of this year and will be replaced by Jeffrey Lagarce, who leads the institutional business at Fidelity Worldwide Investment in London for the U.K., Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
It could not be learned where Mr. Uebelein worked after he left Pyramis.