Rex Kim, Treasury's new Chief Investment Officer, started in April. We caught up with him to talk about his new role. The interview below is included in the spring issue of our
Invested for You newsletter. The newsletter is targeted to PERS beneficiaries, but anyone can subscribe. More details
Q: You moved from the Oregon Investment Council overseeing investments to the front lines. How will you approach your new role? And what have you learned as an OIC member that will be helpful to you as lead Treasury's investment division?
Rex: My time on OIC was a very positive experience, especially since I generally felt like a well-taken care of client: staff kept me well-informed and my requests were taken seriously. I hope to continue that high quality of service to all of our clients. The key difference will be the deeper discussions and analysis into the investments that come as part of the CIO job, as opposed to the policy discussions that I focused on while on the OIC. I am super excited for that change, having been in the investment space for more than 25 years.
Q: You started at Treasury on April 2 during one of the most uncertain and challenging times in recent American history – and the financial markets certainly reflect that. What's the top priority for the investment team as we face the many effects of COVID-19?
Rex: First off, Treasury took the pandemic threat seriously, and we've been working from home or working with plenty of social distance since March 13. That was the right call to make, but if can I be a bit selfish for a moment, it's lonely sitting in my office with so many empty spaces around me. It would definitely be more challenging to take on the CIO role without the existing relationships that I have with the team.
Still, we're making it work, and our number one objective is continuing to keep everyone healthy and safe for their own benefit but also for the good of our communities. From an investment perspective, in this kind of volatile, uncertain environment, sticking to our core investment beliefs is really important – the central tenet of which is intellectual honesty and rigor.
Q: Before coming to Treasury, you worked exclusively in the private sector. Why was working in the public sector important to or interesting to you?
Rex: It's certainly a change, and I have a lot to learn about being in the public sector, but that's exciting to me, and I'm looking forward to it. My family and I have lived in Oregon for 17 years. We love it here! And now, we're a family of public servants. My wife is one of those saints who teaches 8th graders at a public middle school. I think the work that we here at Treasury do for Oregon and public employees is important. So, I get to serve Oregon while doing what I love—investing.
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