The Korea Investment Corporation (KIC) announced Wednesday (August 17) that Lee Hoon, former head of investment strategy and innovation division, was promoted to chief investment officer (CIO) with immediate effect for a three-year term. The Korean sovereign wealth fund also announced the appointment of Jung Ho-seok as chief risk officer (CRO).
A KIC spokesperson told AsianInvestor that the three-year terms of executives can be extended by one year, subject to approval by KIC's steering committee. Asked how long a term Lee Hoon can serve in total, the spokesperson said that "there are no specific provisions on how many times it can be extended".
The internal hire is a developing trend among Korean asset owners. In January 2022, Korea Teachers Credit Union announced that financial investment department head Park Man-soo was their new CIO.
“This year’s CIO selection is quite different for KIC since the global markets have been in a state of emergency in the last few years compared to many previous years,” one Seoul-based advisor with insights into the recruitment process told AsianInvestor, on condition of not being named.
“Therefore, KIC and others need CIOs that know the investment environment seen from their organisation’s point of view. The ability of Lee Hoon, as former head of investment strategy and innovation, to adapt to the role and [help KIC adapt] to the current market turmoil as soon as possible is seen as major reasons to pick the CIO internally,” the advisor added.
SECOND INTERNAL HIRE
One Hong Kong-based investment consultant advising Korean asset owners pointed out that it is the second time KIC recruits its CIO internally, the first one being Lee Dong-ik in 2012.
"Based on well-developed understanding and experiences of Mr Lee from his previous roles in KIC as the head of asset allocation and investment strategy, he would be the one who can enhance the investment direction and capabilities for KIC," the investment consultant told AsianInvestor, on condition of not being named.
"Especially from his latest position as the head of future strategy division, he has been developing various functions such as the establishment of KIC’s future strategy, review of integrated portfolio and support of domestic financial industry developments, among others, that might be reinforced further," the investment consultant added.
8 YEARS AT KIC
Lee Hoon replaces outgoing CIO Park Dae-yang , who became CIO in 2019 after he was previously the CIO at Teachers Pension Korea. Park's term ended August 16 and will not have a transitional advisory role to Lee Hoon, the KIC spokesperson said.
Lee Hoon joined KIC in 2014, working on asset allocations and investment strategies. During his time at the sovereign wealth fund, its assets under management (AUM) more than doubled to $205 billion last year from $84.7 billion in 2014.
With a career starting in 1994, he was previously an analyst at Korean financial service firms, including Korea Investment & Securities, Woori Investment & Securities and Samsung Securities.
NEW RISK CHIEF
August 17 also marked the start of Jung Ho-seok’s three-year term as CRO. He joined KIC from the Bank of Korea. There, he led the planning and coordination department. Jung worked at the central bank for 32 years and previously headed the reserve management planning team.
Jung replaces Yoo Chang-ho as CRO. Like Park's term as CIO, Yoo ended his term on August 16, according to the KIC spokesperson.
Furthermore, Sean K. Lee is taking over the reins as head of investment strategy and innovation division after Lee Hoon’s promotion. Sean K. Lee will concurrently hold onto the role of head of the strategy and innovation group, which he has had since August 2021. Previously Sean K. Lee had roles in KIC's real estate team as well as at its Singapore office, the KIC spokesperson said.