Jerry Albright has an ambitious goal: Transform the Teacher Retirement System of Texas into a best-in-class global institutional investor.
The chief investment officer of the $145.4 billion defined benefit plan is not shy about singing its praises, labeling it the top U.S. pension fund in a report to the system's board of trustees.
Mr. Albright's priorities for the transformation of the investment management division include reducing investment costs through more internal management; increasing the size of teams globally sourcing principal investments, including co-investments, sidecar funds and direct investments in private market deals; and expanding operations and analyst employee support for senior managers.
Because the Austin-based fund has reached its resource capacity for both investment and operations staff, it is recruiting 63 new employees over three years to increase the headcount of the investment management division to 219.
TRS plans to hire a total of 32 people by Aug. 31, the end of the fund's fiscal year. To date, 18 people have accepted jobs or received an offer from the fund. The remaining people will be hired by 2021.
Mr. Albright said in a telephone interview that he likely will go back to TRS' board for approval to add another 60 or so new employees over the following two years for a total of 120 new staffers.
In addition to hitting an investment capacity wall, TRS also is running out of desks to accommodate current, new and future employees and plans to move the investment management division to new office space in Austin separate from the fund's headquarters.
TRS currently has one office outside Austin in London staffed by five people. The fund also is exploring whether to open an office in Singapore (Pensions & Investments, June 24).
The new investment management division employees will fill a job spectrum ranging from investment professionals to operations specialists, technologists, human resource and talent managers, accountants, lawyers, finance aficionados and compliance experts.
Most of the new hires will be junior-level associates, Mr. Albright said, noting that the fund's senior manager ranks already are well staffed. The new associates and analysts will bulk up internal capacity and support senior managers in all functional areas of the investment management division, he said.
In the principal investments unit, for example, with junior staffers holding down the fort, more experienced senior investment officers can more readily "get out of the office" to meet with investment managers and potential portfolio company targets, Mr. Albright said.