UC investment office faces high staff turnover, emails suggest

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In the five years that Jagdeep Bachher — UC chief investment officer and vice president of investments — has been in office, more than three-quarters of his initial staff members have left.

During this time, Bachher’s office has reduced its employee numbers by only one job, from 48 to 47 positions. However, 37 workers have left, including 14 long-time staffers who retired, according to UC Office of the President, or UCOP, spokesperson Dianne Klein.

The chief investment officer manages the UC pension and endowment, as well as the short-term and total-return investment pools. They are in charge of a multibillion-dollar budget.

Leanna Orr, a deputy editor at Institutional Investor, started receiving anonymous email complaints about working for Bachher. In one email, the author instructed Orr to “call staff and see how upset they are.”

“I think the proof is in the pudding, and the factual aspect is that there are a lot of people leaving,” Tom Fischer, a former employee of the investment office, said in an interview with Institutional Investor.

Klein attributed the retirements to “baby boomers reaching retirement age.” She said those who quit did so to primarily pursue “bigger and better opportunities.”

According to Orr, employees grocery-shopped for Bachher and took out garbage cans at UC Chief Operating Officer Arthur Guimaraes’ home. They could be seen carrying Bachher’s suitcases at a UC Board of Regents meeting, according to Orr’s article.

Orr attributed this information to Eduard van Gelderen, who refrained from commenting to The Daily Californian about his decision to resign. According to van Gelderen, he doesn’t want to “look back on the (Office of the Chief Investment Officer)” and decided to leave to focus on his new job at the Public Sector Pension Investment Board in Canada.

One of the anonymous emails Orr received also brought up concerns of Bachher’s involvement in “lots of questionable investments.” The email said the UC regents are investing $250 million in a fund that Paul Wachter launched. Wachter was the chair of Committee on Investments until 2016, and one of the UC regents who helped hire Bachher.

The UCOP said it stands behind Bachher. According to Klein, UC Regent and chair of the Investments Subcommittee Richard Sherman and UC President Janet Napolitano have expressed their support of the chief investment officer.

Klein added that she is not aware of any formal complaints from workers.

“As you know, The University of California values and strives to uphold the highest ethical standards, including those pertaining to our institutional culture,” Klein said in an email. “As stated in our Standards of Ethical Conduct, members of the University community are expected to conduct themselves ethically, honestly and with integrity in all dealings.”

ASUC External Affairs Vice President Nuha Khalfay said she and her staff reviewed the article but feel that there is not enough information to take a position.

Contact Isabella Sabri at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @isabella_sabri.

Clarification(s):
A previous version of this article may have implied that Paul Wachter’s fund had not yet been launched. In fact, the fund has already been launched.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that employees carried Jagdeep Bachher’s suitcases around the office. In fact, they carried Bachher’s suitcases for him at the UC Board of Regents meeting.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that employees took out garbage cans at Jagdeep Bachher’s home. In fact, they took out the garbage cans at the home of UC Chief Operating Officer Arthur Guimaraes.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Paul Wachter is the current chair of Committee on Investments. In fact, his term as chair ended in 2016.