PA SERS makes interim CIO permanent

The Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System has named Thomas Brier, who has been serving as interim CIO since March, as its new chief investment officer.

The Board of the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System (PA SERS) has unanimously approved the appointment of Thomas Brier as the pension fund’s new chief investment officer (CIO) following a months-long national executive search, PA SERS said in a statement.

Brier, who was named interim CIO in March, had been deputy CIO since 2010.

“The selection process was thorough and intense,” board chairman Glenn Becker said in the statement. “Korn Ferry did a very good job identifying several well-qualified candidates,” he said, but added that during the interview process, which started in July, Brier provided the board with a clear vision and strategic plan that the pension fund embraced. “He brings a wealth of experience and stability to the management team,” Becker commented.

Brier is replacing Anthony Clark who retired in December 2013 amid allegations of misleading the pension fund in investing with Tiger Management, a New York-based hedge fund manager, and conducting personal business during work hours.

However, a nine-month-long investigation which concluded in September absolved Clark of any wrongdoing.

In addition to Brier’s appointment, PA SERS also announced its investment performance. According to the statement, for the period ending September 30, 2014, PA SERS achieved net-of-fee returns of 10.7 percent for the year and 6.0 percent for the first nine months of 2014.

The public pension fund invests across a variety of asset classes including alternatives, hedge funds, fixed income and global public equity. Its real assets portfolio includes investments in energy, real estate, REITs, infrastructure and commodities.

As of June 30, 2014, market exposure to real assets stood at $4.4 billion, accounting for 15.8 percent of the fund’s overall portfolio. PA SERS recently increased its 10-year target allocation to the asset class from 14 percent to 17 percent.

Investment in infrastructure and commodities totaled $1.3 billion, representing 4.8 percent of the PA SERS portfolio.

Established in 1923 and headquartered in Harrisburg, PA SERS is one of the oldest and largest retirement plans for public employees in the US, with market assets of nearly $28 billion and approximately 230,000 members.