James Burton named CEO of the World Gold Council

The Executive Committee of the World Gold Council has named James E Burton as its new Chief Executive Officer. The appointment will become effective October 1.

“I am delighted that we have been able to attract someone of the caliber of Mr. Burton to run the Gold Council,” Chris Thompson, chairman of the WGC Executive Committee, said in a statement. “The World Gold Council has always had the potential to be a major influence in gold’s traditional markets. What we need now is Mr. Burton’s extensive experience in the investment arena and his demonstrated management discipline to make the Council more effective. With the fundamentals of the gold market outlook improving and some fresh new investment product ideas for gold in the pipeline, the future for gold is as bright as I have seen it for some time.”

Mr Burton is the former CEO of the California Public Employees Retirement System (Calpers), which he held from 1994 through to September 2002. Prior to working for Calpers he was Deputy State Controller for the State of California, preceded by a series of other career steps in the California State Government. Calpers is the leading and the largest public pension system in the USA with $140 billion in assets and 1.2 million participants. During Burton’s era, Calpers pioneered a more activist approach to institutional investing, emphasizing corporate governance issues and insisting on management and board accountability to shareholders. Burton designed and implemented a transformation of Calpers to an innovative, service-oriented, value added organization widely respected in the business community and seen as a global leader in pension investment. Calpers achieved superior returns during his era and went from being significantly underfunded in 1995 to comfortably overfunded.

The Executive Committee, after an extensive review by Bain & Co of the WGC’s functions, has provided Burton with a specific mandate to reinvigorate the WGC. The Council will focus equally on jewelry and investment demand, as well as cutting costs on sub marginal programs. By year’s end Burton will present a detailed and cost-effective overall strategy for the promotion of gold. More details will be released in due course.

“I am thrilled with the opportunity to help bring gold to the greater attention of the world’s markets,” Burton said in the same statement. “I have spent a tremendous amount of time during the past several months examining how I can be most valuable to the investment community in this next phase of my career. I am convinced that the Council’s new focus offers me that opportunity.”

The WGC was founded in 1987 by the world’s leading gold mining companies for the purpose of stimulating the demand for gold by consumers as well as investors.