Domestic alternative investment head and New York office head of the National Pension Service (NPS) have recently expressed intentions to resign, the latest blow to the $570 billion pension fund struggling with an unprecedented series of resignation by senior investment managers.
Jae-Bum Kim, who has led domestic alternative investment worth 22 trillion won ($20 billion) at end-2017, tendered a resignation on July 26, citing personal reasons, according to a financial industry source.
Sungwon Ko, the New York office head, offered to resign early this month after being notified to return to the headquarters in Jeonju, a three-hour drive south of Seoul, according to other sources. He has led the New York office since 2014.
Kim will become the fourth executive to quit from the Investment Management department of the NPS recently, excluding the CIO position for which investment strategy head S00-Cheol Lee has been acting since mid-July.
“As far as I know, Mr. Kim considered changing jobs because of the move of the Investment Management’s head office to Jeonju and low pays compared with private companies,” the source told the Korean Investors.
“In such circumstances, he seemed to be taken aback by the resignation of In-Sik Cho, who was the so-called eldest brother of the Investment Management department.”
Cho, ex-global public market head, quit this month, after serving as acting CIO for one year.
Kim, a former alternative investment team head of the Teachers’ Pension, moved to the NPS in 2015. Since last year, he has led domestic alternative investments.
Their resignation offers come as NPS restarted the CIO selection process which had drawn 30 applicants by the July 19 deadline, almost double the number of applicants in the previous recruitment process that ended in June, according to the NPS.
Continuous outflows of asset management staff from the NPS were triggered by its move to Jeonju, a provincial city, in early 2017 and prosecutors’ investigations into the pension scheme’s role in supporting the controversial merger of two Samsung Group units in 2015.
More than a quarter of its 246-strong workforce, or 71 investment management employees, has left since the final decision was made in 2016 to move the headquarters to the city of 600,000 population.
Currently, global alternative and global public market investments for the NPS are being led by acting heads. Domestic equity investments are temporariy under the supervision of domestic fixed-income head.
In a statement on July 30 to announce a plan of 34 new asset management hires in the second half of this year, NPS Chairman and CEO Sung-joo Kim said that he would improve treatment and working conditions of investment management employees to be commensurate with its status as the world’s No.3 pension fund, without elaborating further.
By Chang Jae Yoo
<Edited by Yeonhee Kim>