IFM Investors taps Willis Towers Watson executive Luba Nikulina for new strategic role
At WTW, three teams reported to Ms. Nikulina – Manager Search, led by Chris Redmond; operational due diligence, led by Josh Hall; and asset research, led by David Hoile. Ms. Nikulina then reported to Craig Baker, Global CIO. Following his departure, Messrs. Redmond, Hall and Hoile will report directly to Mr. Baker, “as these teams previously did”, the spokesman said.
At IFM, Ms. Nikulina’s new role allows her to continue to focus on many of her passions: developing and delivering private markets solutions that meet the needs of global pension funds and their participants; the importance of sustainability in the financial management industry; and the pursuit of investment with purpose.
In her previous role at WTW – her last day was August 31 – she spent a lot of time on sustainability and systemic risks, thinking about how the industry can work together more to address some of those risks. Her passion for collaboration was also evident in her role as co-chair of the Investment Consultants’ Sustainability Task Force, and it’s been “incredible to see the power of collaboration,” she said.
This theme of collaboration is reflected in his new role at IFM. “I could see that IFM, because investors are standing behind them, they understand how to collaborate and make it work. For me, this is an opportunity to continue on the same wave of collaboration that I have to work effectively in other contexts,” with the IFM also giving her the opportunity to enhance this collaboration globally, across different shareholders and markets, she added.
In private markets, there’s “essentially an opportunity to do more in this area and also to continue to innovate,” she said. There is an intersection with climate change, social factors and the decarbonisation of the global economy, as well as the “fourth industrial revolution” – how technology can be used more. “You need illiquid capital to be able to facilitate that,” she added. Ms. Nikulina developed the private market capabilities of Willis Towers Watson.
Ms Nikulina said private markets are changing right now – in private equity, for example, there is more appetite for long-term structures, with the need for innovation there. In infrastructure, institutional investors are keen to move along the curve in terms of the risk spectrum.
The idea of having a ‘goal’ is also something that attracted Ms Nikulina to the role – “how important it is for an asset management organisation, if it is to be successful in the future, to s ensure that this objective is factored in. This goes beyond buying low, selling high (and) pure financial arguments, the objective of the IFM is to preserve and grow the retirement savings of working people, and it is because this organization was created by pension funds and it is (for) nurses, teachers, construction workers.” Investing with a purpose, taking into account environmental and social factors, for example, is “embedded in the mindsets (of IFM leaders)”, she said.
The “philosophy of innovation” has continued since Ms. Nikulina’s move to WTW, she added, but the move to IFM will bring her “closer to the action by facilitating the way in which fund capital pension, long-term capital, can be channeled to the right opportunities. in structures that are well designed and (a) better suited to investor needs, client needs and pension fund needs… I (spent) 17 years at Willis Towers Watson, and loved every second of it “, she added. said. However, when the role of IFM presented itself, there were “so many factors that lined up, at the end of the day, it was a no-brainer and I’m very excited about this opportunity”, said she declared.