Three high-profile public fund CIOs took new jobs so far this month, highlighting the increasing challenge of leading an investment team at a public pension fund amid economic and political pressures and increased public scrutiny — not to mention the lure of higher pay.
The chief investment officers who moved are:
• Raudline Etienne, who left the $146.5 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, on Sept. 15 to become senior director of global business consulting firm Albright Stonebridge Group.
• Ronald Schmitz, who announced his resignation from the Oregon Investment Council, Tigard, effective Oct. 31, to become CIO of the $51 billion Virginia Retirement System, Richmond. The Oregon council oversees the $60 billion Oregon Public Employees' Retirement Fund, Salem.
• Trent May, who resigned Sept. 2 from the $6.5 billion Wyoming Retirement System, Cheyenne, to become CIO of Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries' $99 million foundation and $173 million family office. Mr. May was the Wyoming system's first CIO, hired in 2009.
Pay is a major factor for public fund CIOs.
“I think a significant amount (of the turnover) has to do with compensation,” said Thomas Williams, executive director of the Wyoming system. “There are political and economic constraints occurring throughout the nation in the public service arena. It is limiting the ability to attract and retain the highest caliber of staff.”
Mr. May said in a telephone interview that leaving for Koch was a “unique opportunity” and a “one-off deal,” but he also acknowledged a general philosophical change is taking place in public funds.
Outsourcing the CIOs' duties and dwindling resources are creating a different mentality in building an institutional infrastructure, he said. “The resource issue is the No. 1 challenge in that position,” Mr. May said. “I didn't want to be in a situation where I'm recruiting and training new personnel every few months.”