San Francisco City & County adds board interview to hiring process

Money managers that are finalists to manage investments for the $17.19 billion San Francisco City & County Employees' Retirement System will have to jump through one additional hoop before they can close the deal: an interview with the seven-member board.

Jay Huish, the pension fund's executive director, agreed to the change at an investment committee meeting Wednesday afternoon after members of the investment committee, who are also board members, concluded that they would like the additional layer of scrutiny.

While the retirement system board approves investment contracts based on recommendations from the pension fund's investment staff and consultants, it has not interviewed finalists since 2001 after regular board meetings were trimmed back to once a month from twice a month.

The new policy comes after committee member Herb Meiberger pushed for the change Wednesday.

“We are fiduciaries here,” Mr. Meiberger told fellow board members, saying the extra layer was a responsibility board members needed to exercise.

But board member Joseph Driscoll voiced concern that the additional board interview of the top finalist in a search could discourage investment staffers that their authority was being usurped.

The board acting as the investment committee took no formal vote on the policy change; Mr. Huish said he could implement the new policy without a vote.

The new policy will be applied to the manager selected by the staff to run a planned bank loan portfolio, Mr. Huish and the board agreed. Robert Shaw, interim deputy director of investments, said he expects that staff and the pension fund's consultant, Angeles Investment Advisors, will recommend a finalist by August.