Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System, Nashville, has been operating smoothly during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic primarily because of past crises that had the pension fund well prepared in disaster recovery, said Michael Brakebill, chief investment officer, in an interview.
While other asset owners have attributed preparedness to the financial crisis of 2008, Mr. Brakebill, who has been CIO of the $55.2 billion pension fund since spring 2008, said it was the devastating Nashville flood of May 2010 that prepared the pension fund operationally.
According to the city of Nashville's website, the flood was the result of a 13-inch rainfall in a 36-hour period, which caused the Cumberland River to crest 12 feet above flood stage in Nashville. The flood resulted in 11 deaths and $2 billion in property damage.
"The flood was a big deal and just devastated downtown, and we got kind of booted out of our offices even though we're up on a hill," Mr. Brakebill said. "The building itself had some issues and failed, so after that experience, the treasurer (David H. Lillard Jr.) said we've got to really work on our disaster recovery, because that was a mess."
The response of Mr. Lillard, who as state treasurer still oversees TCRS today, has served the pension fund well, Mr. Brakebill said.
"All had their laptops and went home and started working, and it was all pretty seamless," he said.