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Pension Funds

New York City funds return 8.7% in fiscal year, preliminary report shows

Times Square, New York City

New York City Retirement Systems achieved an 8.7% return on investment for the fiscal year ended June 30 based on a preliminary unaudited analysis, according to a report issued Wednesday by Scott Stringer, the city comptroller.

Mr. Stringer, the fiduciary for the five pension funds that make up the retirement system, issued the analysis as part of a review of the New York City budget for the fiscal year that started July 1.

"These preliminary numbers may be revised up or down in the coming months," said an executive summary of Mr. Stringer's report. The average annual rate of return over the past five fiscal years was 7.2%, the report said. The systems returned 13% in the prior fiscal year.

The retirement system had $195 billion in assets at the end of May. The assumed rate of return is 7%.

The excess returns over the assumed rate of return "will be phased in over six years beginning in fiscal year 2020, resulting in savings of $54 million in fiscal year 2020, $108 million in fiscal year 2021, and $162 million in fiscal year 2022," the report said.

Mr. Stringer's report said the estimated city contribution to the pension system was $9.63 billion for the just-completed fiscal year. By fiscal year 2022, the contribution is expected to rise to $10.37 billion.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli also issued an analysis Wednesday of the city budget for the current fiscal year and the city pension system. Using city data, he estimated a 9% return on investment based on preliminary information.

Mr. DiNapoli's report praised the city's adoption four years ago of "new, more transparent financial reporting standards for pension liabilities" that had has led to aggregate improvement in the pension system.

On a market value basis, the aggregate funding ratio of New York City Retirement Systems was 71% as of June 30, 2017, the report said. During the four-year period, "the unfunded net liability for all five systems declined by $3.6 billion to $56.3 billion," the report said.

Among the five pension funds, individual funding ratios ranged from 61% to 81%.

The asset allocation for the five systems as of May was 29% U.S. equity, 28% fixed income, 12% international and global equity, 9% alternative credit, 8% emerging markets equity, 6% private equity, 4% private real estate, 1% each hedge funds, international funds of funds, infrastructure and real estate investment trusts.