Photographer: Caitlin Ochs/Bloomberg

UN's $61 Billion Pension Fund Gets New Chief After Shortfalls

  • Sudhir Rajkumar will take over from Carolyn Boykin in 2018
  • Fund has climbed 13.5% this year after years of missed targets

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres named Sudhir Rajkumar, a top official at the World Bank Treasury, to head the global body’s $61 billion pension fund in an attempt to reverse three years of below-target returns.

Rajkumar will replace Carolyn Boykin, the former chief investment officer of the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System, in January, United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Thursday. In December, the UN General Assembly criticized the pension fund’s performance, singling out $3.4 billion in foreign-exchange costs, and for delays in making payments.

The UN fund is among the world’s most complex, with more than 128,000 participants and 72,000 retirees in nearly 200 countries. Its payments go out in 15 currencies, including dollars, euros, kroner and rupees.

Rajkumar has managed various portfolios as head of the global pension advisory program at the World Bank Treasury, which manages $150 billion for the World Bank, and advised the national pension fund of the Republic of Korea, South Africa’s Government Employees Pension Fund, and the Nazarbayev University endowment in Kazakhstan, according to a UN statement.

The pension fund is up about 13.5 percent this year through September -- in line with the S&P 500’s return -- to a record $61.5 billion. But that gain came too late for Boykin, who reported directly to Guterres.

“This is the first wave of much needed change at the fund,” said Loraine Rickard-Martin, a former UN political affairs officer who had lobbied for management changes. “I’m more than ready to give him a chance.”

According to UN data, the fund returned 3.1 percent last year, missing its target by 0.4 percentage points. That miss may have been the last straw for Boykin. The fund missed its target by 5.2 percentage points in 2015 and by 1 percentage point the year before.

Rajkumar holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago and an Master of Science in economics from the London School of Economics.

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