Getting to know OPTrust’s new president and CEO Peter Lindley

It’s been one month since Peter Lindley, the OPSEU Pension Trust’s new president and chief executive officer, started the role.

With an engineering degree and a more than 30-year career in finance under his belt, Lindley’s most recent role was president and head of investments at State Street Global Advisors. “When I went to work at State Street I got to work with investors, mostly pension plans, and providing them with investment advice was something I found a lot of personal satisfaction in,” he says.

The work led Lindley to eventually move to the asset-owner side of the industry. “I felt the next step in my career would be to join an asset owner and, as luck would have it, at the right time this opportunity came up and I was just really excited about it.”

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One of the reasons he was attracted to the OPTrust was its leadership in the responsible investment space, he says, noting this topic is very dear to his heart. “I’ve seen [it go] from something in the wilderness to being very mainstream today. So I was really pleased to see responsible investing being so important here as well.”

Lindley says he was also attracted to the plan because of its size and the fact it serves 95,000 members, yet it’s still small enough to be nimble and has a culture of innovation.

Speaking of priorities going forward, Lindley wants to maintain the stability and momentum at the OPTrust. “But there are a lot of challenges out there, whether it’s short-term volatility in the markets or longer-term challenges from the investment point of view.”

Among these challenges, Lindley cites the lack of clarity around policy, political issues and trade wars. “I think there’s a lot of short-term volatility. But our investment approach really, I think, can manage the short-term volatility.”

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For a longer-term organization like the OPTrust, the longer-term return expectations and low long-term interest rates are the main challenges, he says, noting this means the present value of liabilities is higher and it’s more difficult to hit return targets. “You’re very much more reliant on other markets, so it’s important to be well-diversified.”

That said, the OPTrust is well-funded, he adds. And there can be opportunity in volatility, too.

As a leader, Lindley describes his values as respect, integrity and teamwork. “I don’t believe in the star system really, I think the team can be better than the sum of the parts.”

The best piece of advice he’s ever received, he adds, is that companies should be as loyal to their employees as they expect their employees be to them. “We are in a resource business and our No. 1 resource is our people.”

This article originally appeared on Benefits Canada‘s companion site, the Canadian Investment Review.

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