Head of Strategic Equities


Head of Strategic Equities

Business Area: Equities

Place of Work: London

Contract Type: Permanent

Hours: Full Time

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) has circa 396,000 members, and over £60 billion in assets, we’re one of the largest private pension schemes in the UK and in the top 50 worldwide. Established in 1974, we’re entrusted by over 350 higher education sector employers to manage and administer the pension scheme and its investments through our two companies, Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited and USS Investment Management Limited.
Our purpose
Working with Higher Education employers to build a secure financial future for our members and their families.

The role
Working closely with the Head of Investment Strategy and Advice (ISA), the Head of Strategic Equities (HoSE) will determine the strategic approach to investment in equity markets. This will involve the development and integration of long-term strategic thinking (informed by quantitative techniques and ESG considerations) to our market equity portfolios and oversight of managers and mandates (both internally and externally managed). The objective will be to construct portfolios aligned with the strategic direction of the Scheme and focused on providing attractive risk-adjusted returns relative to liability-proxy assets rather than outperforming conventional market cap benchmarks.
The Strategic Equities team will oversee a Quant Equities, a Responsible Investments (RI) and a Thematic Equities (TE) function. USS has a high calibre Global Emerging Markets Equities team (GEMs) underpinned by fundamental company research.  This team is an integral part of the equity strategy of USSIM.  Depending on the candidate this team may (or may not) report into HoSE.
With assistance from Manager Oversight team, you will have responsibility for designing, appointing and overseeing third-party managers in the Equities space. Note the decision to outsource / insource management ultimately lies with the USSIM CEO but you will be expected to propose (and implement) a holistic equity strategy that takes account of USS’s risk and financial budget.
You will work closely with Heads of Investment Strategy and Advice (ISA), Global Emerging Markets (GEMS), Investment Product Management (IPM), Fixed Income & Treasury (FIT), Performance and Investment Risk (PAIR) and Private Markets Group (PMG) and actively contribute to USSIM investment and business governance through participation to committees and meetings such as USSIM ExCo, Asset Allocation Committee, Risk Committee, Mifid Oversight Committee and Manager and Mandates Meetings to ensure USSIM has an effective control environment and fulfils its obligations under its IMAA.

Key responsibilities
To prepare the strategic vision, business plans and budgets for the department for agreement with the CEO, CFO and USSIM board.
To work effectively with CEO and Head of ISA (especially) to develop thinking in the Equity space and the delivery of the IMAA.
To develop new equities strategies, product and processes (working with ISA, IPM, PMG, PAIR) to ensure that USSIM’s developed markets equity offering meets the evolving needs of the client (both for DB and DC funds) and present them for peer review at the Managers & Mandates meeting.
To establish and maintain a high performing department capable of designing, implementing and overseeing investment strategies that meet the need of the scheme over the long term with an appropriate level of risk.
To incorporate best practices into the organisation of and processes within the department and in interactions with other parts of USSIM; developing contacts with other leading institutional equities managers and funds to inform internal practices.
To ensure the Thematic Equities (TE), Quant Equities and Responsible Investment (RI) functions (together with associated support) are organised cost-effectively and have the processes, resources and portfolio allocations to deliver the objectives and targets set for them.
To ensure the all functions have a strong compliance culture and a commitment to investment excellence. Develop and manage new mandates of tangible benefit to the Scheme and contribute to the company’s wider investment success through constructive interaction with other investment functions to share insights and best practice.
To establish and maintain a strong RI team which is active across all asset classes and fulfils USS’s commitment to be an active and responsible owner of capital and delivers associated benefits for long-term performance and risk management. This includes articulation of financial case for exclusion of categories of investments and/or individual investments, development of an approach to screen companies on the basis of their ESG credentials and engagements to improve standards at individual companies as well as market standards more generally, with the aim of protecting and enhancing the value of USS’ investments.
To establish and maintain a strong Quant equities team to harness quantitative techniques to improve risk-adjusted returns and ensure that RI choices are integrated holistically into mandates and to ensure that USSIM’s equity strategies deliver the desired risk & return characteristics (in the light of other assets owned and the Scheme’s liability profile and overall risk appetite).
To develop and oversee the Thematic Equities (TE) function to identify attractive long-term investment themes (taking RI into account) for the Scheme and determine how to exploit these.  Working closely with colleagues in Private Markets Group (who will also be investing long-term in the private markets) determine a holistic approach across both public and private markets for the Scheme.
Within the guidelines and risk-budget agreed with the Head of ISA and CEO to tilt allocations to regions, sectors or styles, both through physical and derivatives allocations, to improve risk/return profile of equity allocation relative to the Reference Portfolio benchmark.
To contribute actively to USSIM Manager and Mandates (M&M) meeting to support the most appropriate investment implementation strategy for the scheme, including the use of different equities strategies either internally or externally managed.
To review and approve the investment processes developed by the heads of the equities functions and to work with IPM to develop mandate guidelines for portfolios.
To agree roles and recommend remuneration for departmental staff (including bonuses) within agreed budgets and aligned with USSIM’s Incentive Plans.
To establish suitable succession plans and flexibility to adapt to evolving scheme requirements and changing market opportunities.
To establish a strong compliance culture within the department to protect USSIM’s reputation and its client’s best interests.
To monitor performance and utilisation of risk budget, conducting in depth reviews with assistance from IPM, PAIR, Inalytics and others when required.
To take responsibility for and monitor those aspects of the Equity research budget and payments that relate to Strategic Equity investment, working with the GEMs, FIT and ISA teams and other USSIM investment teams to secure value for money from providers and ensure compliance with USSIM’s Research Payments Policy and best practice.
To conduct best execution monitoring to uphold USSIM’s Order Execution Policy and best practice.
To work with the USS Corporate Affairs and USS IC/Board to identify where USS(IM) should be actively engaged in public policy to protect its interests or to raise overall industry standards.

Compliance Responsibilities
Comply with the Compliance and Procedures manual and have a strong understanding of the broader regulatory environment in which the company operates
Be certified by USSIM as fit and proper to hold the role of Head of Strategic Equities 
Act in accordance with the principles of the FCA’s Certification Regime and adhere to the Conduct Rules at all times. 
Responsibility for the compliance conduct of their direct reports
Fulfil the responsibilities delegated by the SM&CR Senior Manager as outlined in focUSS.

Your experience
Proven experience in designing strategic approaches to long-term equity investment that mesh with asset-owners’ overall asset allocation and liability profile
A strong understanding of corporate governance, public equity markets and shareholder rights
A strong understanding of fiduciary responsibilities and the regulatory environment
Understanding of portfolio construction and risk management including considerations for responsible investment, quantitative and passive portfolios 
Strong collaborator – able to work well with other senior investors in USSIM
Understanding of valuation techniques, fundamental analysis and portfolio construction
Proven leadership and motivation skills and an interest in helping others to improve – coaching experience
Degree level education and demonstration of learning abilities and personal/professional growth
Ability to represent USS externally in a professional manner
Certified by USSIM to be fit and proper to hold the role of Head of Strategic Equities

USSIM is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees.

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