Shawn Wischmeier's hiring as North Carolina Retirement Systems' new chief investment officer gives the pension fund its second Hoosier CIO in a row — but that doesn't make the $14.2 billion Indiana Public Employees' Retirement Fund the Tar Heel state's farm team, according to pension industry executives.
“While experience and background were certainly considered in the selection process, geographic location was not a critical factor,” said Heather Franco, spokeswoman for the Raleigh, N.C.-based $68 billion fund.
Michael Kennedy, senior client partner for executive search firm Korn/Ferry International in Atlanta, which was hired by North Carolina to recruit candidates, said his firm “brought a bunch of candidates to the table, but this (Mr. Wischmeier) is the person they (North Carolina fund executives) liked.”
Mr. Wischmeier is scheduled to begin his new job June 23, with a base salary of $320,000, and the potential for annual bonuses of up to 15%, Ms. Franco said. That's well over twice the $125,939.32 annual salary he has been receiving as CIO of the Indianapolis-based PERF, a job he has held since 2006.
Mr. Wischmeier's hiring ensures that North Carolina State Treasurer Janet Cowell, who was elected in 2008, has her own CIO in place.
Mr. Wischmeier replaced Patricia Gerrick, who was terminated by Ms. Cowell, sole fiduciary of the state's pension fund, in August.
Ms. Cowell has not publicly revealed why Ms. Gerrick was terminated. Ms. Franco said information about Ms. Gerrick's departure from the fund could not be released because it was “deemed confidential personnel information.”
Ms. Gerrick was CIO of Indiana PERF from April 2001 until October 2003. (The Indiana board disclosed in 2005 that it had made a $212,000 payment to Ms. Gerrick to settle her complaint with that state's civil rights commission that she was terminated in part because she was female.)
She was named as the North Carolina CIO in September 2004 by Richard Moore, state treasurer at the time. He was defeated in the May 2008 Democratic gubernatorial primary by now-Gov. Beverly Perdue.
Mr. Wischmeier could not be reached for comment. But Korn/Ferry's Mr. Kennedy said Mr. Wischmeier impressed North Carolina executives by giving the Indiana fund a reputation as a top public fund performer.
“He took it (the Indiana fund) from being a good plan to being a great plan,” Mr. Kennedy said.
In a news release, North Carolina's office of state treasurer credited Mr. Wischmeier for improving, in less than four years, Indiana PERF's investment performance to first quartile from fourth quartile.
“They (North Carolina executives) were looking for someone who could come on board and take North Carolina to the next level,” Mr. Kennedy said.
Before stepping in as CIO of the Indiana fund in 2006, Mr. Wischmeier worked for Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co.'s global treasury group, according to the North Carolina news release, focusing primarily on pension and benefit investments, corporate investments and financial risk management.