SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Completing an international search and extensive recruitment process, the California Public Employees’ Pension Retirement System (CalPERS) announced today the appointment of Nicole Musicco as its new chief investment officer. Musicco is only the second woman to lead the investment operations for the nation’s largest public pension fund with nearly $500 billion in assets.
“Nicole’s experience, vision, and skill as an investor in public and private markets is critical for CalPERS,” said Marcie Frost, CalPERS CEO. “We were determined to take our time to ensure we found the right candidate who could succeed in a high-pressure and demanding environment. Nicole is exactly the leader we want to lead CalPERS’ Investment Office and is an exceptional addition to our team.”
Musicco joins CalPERS from RedBird Capital Partners, where she led the firm’s Canadian investment business. Before that, she managed the private markets investment program at the Investment Management Corporation of Ontario. Musicco’s experience also includes 16 years with the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, leading both the private equity and public equity investment teams. She opened the fund’s Asia Pacific office in Hong Kong and helped build its presence in Asia.
“CalPERS has achieved remarkable success during the last five years, strengthening the organization, navigating the pandemic, and improving its funded status,” Musicco said. “My goal is to build on these achievements recognizing that, as long-term investors, CalPERS must maintain focus and discipline to deliver consistent investment returns and retirement security for dedicated public servants.”
Musicco joins CalPERS at a time when the pension fund has increased its funded status from 60% just five years ago to 80% today and is increasing its investments in private markets to continue closing the gap. The Fund adopted a new asset allocation mix late last year that calls for increasing its private equity investments from 8% to 13% and added a private debt allocation of 5%. CalPERS also added 5% leverage to its investment portfolio to increase diversification. The discount rate remains at 6.8%.
“Nicole’s leadership and experience are well suited for the strategic goals we’ve outlined for our fund,” said Theresa Taylor, President of the CalPERS Board. “We are getting the investor we need to skillfully manage our investment portfolio on behalf of our members, now and in the future.”
Nicole begins work on March 28. She will report to CEO Frost and lead a team of more than 300 investment professionals.
“I’d like to thank Dan Bienvenue for his leadership of our investment team and for being an excellent partner on our Executive team,” added Frost.
Musicco has a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology from Western University in London, Ontario, and a bachelor of arts in honors business administration and MBA, both from Western’s Ivey School of Business. She is a longtime board member of Youth Employment Services in Toronto, an employment, counseling and training organization for young people, and a member of the investment committee of Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation.
Dore Partnership, a recruitment firm led by Charles Dore, assisted in the search for the position.
For more than eight decades, CalPERS has built retirement and health security for state, school, and public agency members who invest their lifework in public service. Our pension fund serves more than 2 million members in the CalPERS retirement system and administers benefits for more than 1.5 million members and their families in our health program, making us the largest defined-benefit public pension in the U.S. CalPERS’ total fund market value currently stands at approximately $500 billion.