More than 25% of State Public Pension Plans Will Change CIOs in ’22

By David G. Barry

More than a quarter of the state public pension funds are poised to get new chief investment officers in 2022.

Eight have brought aboard CIOs since January and five others are in the midst of searches that are expected to be completed in the coming months – if not sooner.

The Kentucky Public Pensions Authority (KPPA) became the latest public pension plan to announce a new CIO. Steve Willer, who has been with KPPA since April 2020, replaces Steven Herbert, who left the authority on May 31.

David Eager, KPPA’s executive director, told Markets Group, that there will be no public comment about Herbert’s departure. Herbert, who joined the authority in January 2021, did not respond to a LinkedIn message.

Willer joined KPPA as fixed income division director and then served as deputy CIO before being tapped to be interim CIO after Herbert’s departure. His background also includes serving as senior portfolio manager and strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and stints with Deutsche Investment Management and Invesco Worldwide Fixed Income.

KPPA also promoted Anthony Chiu, director of private equity and alternative investments, to deputy CIO.

Eager said Willer and Chiu will continue with their duties but that a search has begun for a new fixed income portfolio manager. He also said that the authority is looking for “support staff” to assist Willer and Chiu. The other members of the KPPA investment team are Joe Gilbert, a portfolio manager for the division of public equity, and Jared Crawford, a research analyst.

KPPA oversees about $22 billion in pension fund and insurance plan assets of the Kentucky County Employees’ Retirement System, and the Kentucky Retirement Systems, which consists of the Kentucky Employees’ Retirement System and Kentucky State Police Retirement System.

The other state public pension plans that have named new CIOs this year are the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), the Washington State Investment Board (WISB), the New Jersey Division of Investment, the State of Rhode Island, the Virginia Retirement System (VRS), the Public Employees Retirement Association of New Mexico (PERA), and Mississippi Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS).

The state plans that are looking for new CIOs are the Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawaii (ERS), the Idaho Public Employee Retirement System, the Minnesota State Board of Investment, the New Hampshire Retirement System, and the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.