Already seeking a CIO, CFO and a general counsel, the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association now is without a CEO after Brian White abruptly quit last week.
This leaves the $10.4 billion pension fund — whose board not only is searching to fill those spots, but is also reviewing its asset allocation — with a management vacuum being filled in the interim by a management consultant hired a month ago.
On March 19, Mr. White — who had been the CEO and head administrator for 18 years — resigned during a closed session at a board meeting.
Mr. White decided to quit “to pursue new challenges and opportunities,” Dan Flores, SDCERA spokesman, said in an e-mail. Mr. White could not be reached for comment despite multiple attempts.
His decision to leave comes during a rancorous time for the fund. Trustees are in the midst of hiring an in-house chief investment officer to replace Salient Partners LP, the firm's outsourced CIO.
Salient, or its Integrity Capital Services unit, has been the fund's portfolio strategist or outsourced CIO since October 2009.
The often-heated debate over replacing Salient has divided the board, which also needs to hire a new chief financial officer and a new general counsel to replace executives changing jobs or retiring.
For the immediate future, the board selected David Wescoe, president of Efficient Market Advisors LLC, SDCERA's management consultant, as interim CEO “until the board hires a qualified person to fill the position,” Mr. Flores said in another e-mail. Mr. Wescoe and Efficient Market Advisors were hired last month to assist with SDCERA's other personnel searches.
On March 19, the board approved, in an 8-1 vote, a mutual separation agreement with Mr. White. He will receive a severance of about $250,000, roughly one year's pay plus accrued vacation and sick pay. David Myers, vice chairman, cast the sole “no” vote. No reason was given for his vote.