Former Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Chief Executive Officer Evan Siddall has been named the next chief executive officer of Alberta’s largest pension fund manager.

In a release Thursday, the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) announced Siddall will become CEO effective July 1, 2021; he will succeed Kevin Uebelein, who has held the position for six years.

In the release, AIMCo Chair Mark Wiseman praised Siddall’s deep knowledge of the financial services industry and said his experience running the nation’s housing watchdog should serve him well in the new role.

“Evan is an executive who is ready to drive the organization forward with an exceptional focus on clients, commitment to collaboration, and deep knowledge of financial services. The board and I look forward to working in partnership with him in this exciting new chapter for AIMCo,” Wiseman said.

Siddall retired from his role at CMHC earlier this month after helming the organization since the beginning of 2014. During that tenure, he frequently championed the mortgage stress test implemented by the federal government and other measures to help bolster housing-market stability, while also drawing criticism for predicting the COVID-19 pandemic would cause home prices to fall by as much as 18 per cent.  

Siddall takes on the new role in the wake of a difficult year for the pension fund manager. AIMCo posted a total fund return of 2.5 per cent net of fees in 2020, falling short of meeting its benchmark expectations. AIMCo manages $118.6 billion on behalf of several provincial government funds and the pension funds of more than 300,000 Alberta public sector employees.

AIMCo has posted a 7.7 per cent annualized return over the last 10 years.

The fund suffered steep losses during the heightened volatility during the early days of the pandemic, announcing last spring it lost $2.1 billion on a volatility-related strategy. AIMCo launched a formal investigation into the losses to identify improvements that could be made to the fund’s risk-management framework.

Part of Siddall’s new mandate will be to strike a balance between investing in the energy industry, a key plank of Alberta's economy, with the need to prepare for a lower-carbon future, Wiseman said in a broadcast interview Thursday. He added that investments in traditional energy and the green economy can not only co-exist but be complementary.

“One of the big opportunities we see, quite frankly, is in the Western Canadian basin, as part of the transition to a lower-carbon economy,” he said. 

“We think AIMCo can play a really special role, because we have the expertise of the province as being part [of] and helping to finance that transition economy.”

“Helping to finance that transition may be one of the biggest investment opportunities of a generation.”