Although cryptocurrencies aren't a common asset found within pension plan portfolios, a non-profit educational organization for Texas-based retirement fund officials and service providers is keen to show plan sponsors how digital assets could become a staple in their investment pools.
At its annual Summer Educational Forum held in August, the Texas Association of Public Employee Retirement Systems featured two panels discussing the basics of institutional investors allocating to digital assets.
In addition to holding a "Cryptocurrency 101" session hosted by Mannik S. Dhillon, president of VictoryShares and solutions for Victory Capital Management Inc., the forum also featured "Cryptocurrency in Your Portfolio: Are Pension Systems Ready To Dive In?" with Kristin Boggiano, co-founder and president of CrossTower Inc., a digital assets investment and trading firm, and Gabor Gurbacs, director, digital assets strategy, at Van Eck Associates Corp.
And while TEXPERS Executive Director Art Alfaro said in an email that the organization is currently unaware "of any Texas pension funds investing in cryptocurrencies," the "decision to include the two conference sessions on cryptocurrency and blockchain" is part of TEXPERS' mission to educate its members "about new asset classes and new technologies."
As "cryptocurrencies and their underlying blockchain technology grow in use in the business world, our member systems will want to have at least a base level of understanding of what they are and what they do," Mr. Alfaro added. "Cryptocurrencies ... are already an asset class which should not be ignored."
In a phone interview, Ms. Boggiano said that although some pension plans are investing in digital assets, the practice is not yet widespread.
Pension funds "tend to be very cautious and slow; they're risk averse. But the fact that (TEXPERS is) engaging with us shows there's interest," Ms. Boggiano said, adding that plan participants are asking their plan sponsors why digital assets aren't in the portfolio.
"I think plan participants see their children buying bitcoin. Their kids are earning these returns and while initially they were skeptical, they're seeing that there's staying power," she said. "There's definitely interest."