260. Derek Walker of CPP Investments: Total Return for the Portfolio of Tomorrow

Derek Walker, is Head of Portfolio Design & Construction, total Fund Management and a member of the Global Leadership Team at CPP Investments, based in Toronto. He previously worked in MSCI in Geneva. We start by discussing what Derek describes as a “non linear” career path, and his road from technology and machine translation to CPP Investments.

We turn then to unpacking Total Fund Investing at CPP Investments, and learn how it prioritizes best overall portfolio construction for risk-adjusted returns and involves tradeoffs across different asset classes. We speak about how organization size matters in implementing such an approach and how scale and resourcing lends itself to thinking holistically in this way.  We also discuss how it affects mindset, and true team mindset and accountability. The three elements of governance, diversification and culture are discussed in detail.

Digging into some more detail, Derek explains how the team has a reference portfolio and a “factor first” approach around tilting away from that. We discuss the stability of various factors and how the macro backdrop is factored in.  Finally Derek discusses what it is like to work at CPP investments and how the mission of the organization and the fact that it serves over 21 m beneficiaries and contributors across the country is such a motivator.

Series 3 of 2024 is supported by Ruffer and Nuveen. Ruffer is a London based asset manager – founded in 1994 – managing over $25 billion for institutions, pension funds, charities and individuals. They have a single investment approach that aims to deliver positive returns across the full range of market conditions.  Nuveen has provided investment excellence for 125 years. With expertise across income and alternatives, Nuveen continues to expand its capabilities while maintaining its legacy as a leading investment manager. Visit Nuveen.com to learn more. Investing involves risk; loss of principal is possible.