North Carolina Retirement Systems, Raleigh, could double its allocation to alternative investments to 40% if the state Legislature approves a bill backed by state Treasurer Janet Cowell.
Possible new investment directions include activist equity strategies, U.S. energy, secondary market private equity, credit and distressed debt as well as international fixed income, Ms. Cowell said.
The pension fund's current allocation is 44.6% global equity, 35.4% fixed income, 7.9% real estate, 4.9% alternatives, 4.1% credit strategies and 3.1% inflation strategies.
“We will try to get as much flexibility as we can,” said Ms. Cowell, sole trustee of the $78.1 billion retirement system, during a panel discussion Tuesday at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif.
The North Carolina Retirement Systems needs to shift more assets from equities and fixed income to reach its 7.25% long-term assumed rate of return, Ms. Cowell stressed, given predictions of a decade of poor returns ahead. “We can't hedge out 10 years of slow growth,” she said.
The pension fund pays $18 million annually in funds-of-funds fees, and Ms. Cowell said she hopes to cut those fees by expanding her investment staff and moving to direct investment in alternatives.
“We will have to convince our Legislature to let us do this, that it's not a government entitlement” program, Ms. Cowell said, joking.
The legislation is scheduled for consideration on Thursday, Ms. Cowell said.