CalSTRS names Chan as investment chief

Scott Chan
California State Teachers Retirement System - Chief investment officer
Date: 1 May 2024
Position: Chief investment officer
By Andrew McKean

The California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) has named a chief investment officer to succeed Christopher Ailman, who announced his retirement in January after a long tenure.

Scott Chan, who's served as deputy chief investment officer since 2018, will take on the role.

Chan's first day in his new position will be July 1; he'll report to the board's investment committee and chief executive Cassandra Lichnock.

The appointment concludes CalSTRS's global search for a successor to Ailman, under whose leadership the pension fund's investment portfolio grew from US$109.6 billion to $317.8 billion.

In his new role, Chan will be responsible for developing and implementing CalSTRS investment policies, strategies, and initiatives; managing the budget; and overseeing all CalSTRS investment portfolios.

A statement from CalSTRS said he'll draw on his decades of "financial expertise" and "institutional investment experience" in directing a growing investments branch of more than 225 staff, continuing to contribute to the CalSTRS executive leadership team.

During his tenure as deputy, Chan has been involved in the development and direction of the "Collaborative Model" investment strategy, which focuses on bringing more assets in-house and leveraging external partnerships to cut costs, manage risks, and increase expected returns. This model has saved CalSTRS more than US$1.6 billion since 2017.

"As deputy chief investment officer, Scott has already brought so much value to CalSTRS. He is helping lead the alignment of our organisational sustainability goals with our sustainable investing and net zero goals. I look forward to his partnership as we continue to fulfill our promise to California's teachers," Lichnock said.

CalSTRS Search Committee chair Harry Keiley said Chan has a combination of institutional investing skills and experience, plus a down-to-earth leadership style.

"He is unquestionably the right person to lead our talented and diverse team..." he said.

Chan said he was honoured to oversee CalSTRS investments and leading the team, noting that securing the retirement of members is personally significant to him as the husband of a California educator, and professionally important as the fund pursues "innovative opportunities" in ever-changing financial markets.

"I am committed to driving excellence in how we invest, including advancing sustainability practices and promoting diversity across CalSTRS, our portfolio companies, partners and the industry," he said.

Before joining CalSTRS, Chan was senior managing director of the University of California, Office of the chief investment officer of the Regents, where he oversaw the US$55 billion global equities portfolio.

While at the university, he sat on the investment committees of the Los Alamos and Livermore National Laboratories defined benefit and defined contribution pension plans. Chan also served as chief investment officer for the Sacramento County Employees' Retirement System and was a partner and portfolio manager for several hedge fund partnerships, where he gained direct investing expertise.

Chan is a board member of the Toigo Foundation, co-chair and board member of the Institutional Investors Roundtable, and serves on the Milken Institute's Executive Counsel for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Asset Management.