Longtime Mississippi Public Employees’ Retirement System Employee Named CIO

By David G. Barry

Charles Nielsen has been tapped as chief investment officer of the Mississippi Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) – an organization that he worked for since 1998.

Nielsen replaces Robert Clark, who resigned in April to be closer to his family. Clark joined the $34.8 billion fund in February 2020 after being a vice president and portfolio manager with Southeastern Trust Company in the Chattanooga, Tenn., area. He has returned to Southeastern Trust as a senior portfolio manager.

Clark was chosen by SERS after a seven-month search to replace Lorrie Tingle, who retired in 2019 after 23 years in the role.

Nielsen served as interim CIO between Tingle’s departure in August 2019 and Clark’s arrival in early 2020. Nielsen started with PERS in 1998 as an investment manager. He has served as deputy CIO for the past two years.

In a statement, PERS Executive Director Ray Higgins said that Nielsen “will provide continuity and a great deal of expertise as we continue to move PERS forward.”

According to its most recent investment report for the quarter ended March 31, the system had 26% of its allocation in U.S. equities, 20% in non-U.S. equities, 19% in fixed income, 11% in global equities, 11% in real estate and 11.5% in private equity.

The total fund over the past year has generated 8.44%. Private equity was the top-performing sector at 41.6%. International equities and fixed income were the worst, each down about 4%.