U.S. funds that have put the firm on watch include the $80.7 billion New York State Teachers plan, Albany, and the $620 million Ohio State Highway Patrol Retirement System, Columbus.
The New York Teachers plan put the firm on watch in April for performance, according to plan spokesman Dave Daley. BIAM runs $644 million in active international equity for the fund. The Ohio system has had the firm — which manages $40 million for the fund in international equities — on watch since October, said Dan Weiss, chief financial officer.
Bank of Ireland's style is to run large-cap concentrated portfolios.
Over the last 18 months money managers with a large-cap bias have struggled to maintain performance, said Gary Dowsett, senior investment consultant for Watson Wyatt Worldwide, Reigate, England.
He would not comment on whether Bank of Ireland was on the firm's buy list or how it was ranked by the consultant.
BIAM's Mr. Boal agreed. "High quality large-cap stocks, to which we have a bias, have not been rewarded in the market."
However large-cap stocks were likely to outperform as interest rates rise, he added. "We plan to stick to our investment style. We are known for that, and clients place great emphasis on consistency," said Mr. Boal.
For Sid McCausland, chief executive officer of the San Mateo County system, BIAM's consistency was not enough, and after nine years the plan decided to end its relationship with the firm.
"Bank of Ireland has told us the same story consistently over the nine years about their … thematic approach to stock selection. But performance has lagged for most of the period that we were together. They had a tremendous run when Japan fell out of favor and they were already underweight Japan. Their strategy has not seen similar success through most of the rest of the period," he said.
The City of Worcester plan dropped the firm because some board members were unhappy with performance and felt there was overlap between the BIAM mandate and a similar portfolio run by Boston Capital Institutional Advisors LLC, Boston, said Mr. DelSignore.
The United Kingdom is a different story. Total new business generated there during 2003 was $1.3 billion from nine new mandates.
Bank of Ireland has been hired by the £1.5 billion Tesco PLC Pension Scheme, Cardiff, Wales, for an unknown amount; the £2.2 billion Northern Ireland Local Government Officers' Superannuation Committee, Belfast, Ireland, £210 million; the £750 million Lincolnshire County Council Pension Fund, Lincoln, England, £100 million; and the approximately £75 million Law Society Pension Scheme Ltd., also in Lincoln, for a mandate of an unknown size.
David Forbes, assistant county treasurer at the Lincolnshire County fund, said plan trustees realized bank of Ireland's specific investment style in its global equity portfolio meant performance would be volatile.
"We knew we would be in for a bumpier ride with them. We are aware of their style of management and that attracted us to them," said Deane Morrice, secretary to the plan.
Trustees will think "long and hard" about the firm if performance is still poor in three years, he added.