Michael J. Gallimore's 1977 degree was in computer science, not finance. But in a sign of the importance technology has assumed in investment management, Northern Trust Corp. this week promoted the ex-programmer to chairman and chief executive officer of Northern Trust Global Advisors.

"Technology is such an important player in investment management," said Mr. Gallimore, 42. "We need to use technology in research and in portfolio construction in order to maximize performance for our clients or they will head somewhere else."

The choice of a computer expert also signals the growing importance for Northern Trust of its outsourcing business. Northern Trust Global Advisors supervises $7.8 billion in investment funds for other firms.

"There aren't a lot of organizations that are experienced enough or have the technological resources to do this job well," Mr. Gallimore said. "We want to maintain and grow our capabilities in outsourcing. We want to stay ahead and really set the standard."

After leaving Toronto's Concordia College with his computer degree Mr. Gallimore worked as a programmer at Sun Life Insurance of Canada. There he became more interested in investments. He earned his MBA at Concordia in 1982.

After jobs with Towers Perrin and IBM Canada, Mr. Gallimore joined RCB International Inc. - which would later be bought by Northern Trust - in March 1988, as head of its Canadian unit.

The promotion of Gallimore marks a changing of the guard at the $16.4 billion investment firm. Stephen B. Timbers, the president of Northern Trust Global Investment, which is the parent of the advisory firm, said Mr. Gallimore is replacing the firm's co-founder, Edgar W. Barksdale Jr., 55. Mr. Barksdale, who was named chairman emeritus of the Stanford, Conn.-based unit in February, co-founded RCB in 1976.

"Mike Gallimore is widely recognized in the investment management industry for his work on investment program design, investment manager research, asset allocation, and innovative investment strategies from a global perspective," Mr. Timbers said. "Mike's transition into this new role is an important next step in the ongoing growth of Northern Trust Global Advisors."

Mr. Gallimore said at Northern Trust, staying ahead of the competition has meant using proprietary technological tools to help design and manage a client's portfolios. One of these tools is Cosmic, a computer program that creates optimal combinations of portfolio managers to meet a client's needs.

"There is no tool out there designed to do this, so we made our own. Cosmic allows us to look at a customer's needs and fulfill them with the best people for that job," Mr. Gallimore said.

Northern Trust's technological advances have not gone unnoticed in the industry. Mr. Gallimore said 16 pension funds and three endowment funds have turned to Northern Trust Global Advisors to supervise their investment funds.

"Our place in the market is well-established because of what we do in terms of providing leading-edge advice to large investors," Mr. Gallimore said. "If we want them to stay with us, we have to stay ahead of the competition."

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