Timo Ritakallio, long-standing CIO at Ilmarinen, has been named the Finnish pensions mutual’s next chief executive.

He will succeed Harri Sailas, who is to retire next May after more than eight years as president and head of Ilmarinen, the country’s largest private pension provider, with €33.5bn in assets.

Joining in 2008 from Pohjola Bank, Ritakallio was named CIO and deputy to Sailas after the departure of Jussi Laitinen.

He began his career in 1991 at OP-Pohjola Group within the cooperative bank group’s Uusikaupunki branch.

He then spent four years as managing director at Opstock Securities and joined OKO Bank as executive vice-president in 1997.

In 2001, he was promoted to deputy chief executive at OKO, a position he held until he moved to Pohjola in 2006.

In addition to his responsibilities at Ilmarinen, Ritakallio is also a board member at several local foundations, as well as business park operator Technopolis and the Finnish Securities Market Association (Arvopaperimarkkinayhdistys).

Jussi Pesonen, chairman at Ilmarinen, said Ritakallio would assume the new responsibilities from next February, ahead of Sailas’s departure in May.

“Timo Ritakallio has comprehensive expertise in investment operations, has demonstrated strong leadership skills and is highly experienced in the field of earnings-related pensions due to his time on Ilmarinen’s board,” Pesonen said.

“These strengths, combined with his comprehensive experience in the financial sector, were decisive factors [in his appointment].”

The pensions mutual reported returns of 3.4% over the first half of the year.

Ritakallio has recently been overhauling Ilmarinen’s investment strategy, targeting increased infrastructure and foreign real estate exposure.