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New Mexico PERA Loses Chief To Iowa

The game of musical chairs continues among top pension executives, as the executive director of the $12 billion New Mexico Public Employees’ Retirement Association, Terry Slattery, announced he would step down to take the top job at the $2 billion Iowa Municipal Fire & Police Retirement System.

New Mexico PERA has a 5 percent target allocation to private equity. Its current buyout portfolio was valued at $374 million as of June 30. As for MFPRSI, the Iowa pension oversees $290 million in private equity commitments. A spokesman for the Des Moines-based pension said the fund had no preset target for the asset class, but instead had a 20 percent cap on alternative investments overall. MFPRSI’s private equity adviser is Summit Strategies of St. Louis.

MFPRSI’s spokesman declined to say how Slattery’s appointment might affect the pension’s private equity strategy. Calls to Slattery were not returned.

Slattery, who has been at New Mexico PERA for 10 years, is originally from Missouri. He told the Associated Press that his move to Iowa “was more of a lifestyle decision with family being back there” in the Midwest.

His last day will be Oct. 14, and he is expected to start his new role in January, when Dennis Jacobs, who had earlier announced his retirement, steps down from the Iowa pension.

Slattery’s is just the latest in a series of senior moves at pensions in the past month:

•Both Wayne Smith and Michael Langdon recently left the private equity program at the $41 billion Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management.

•The chief executive of the $147 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Raudline Etienne, left to join the Albright Stonebridge Group, a consulting firm.

•The $36 billion Maryland State Retirement and Pension System formally named its interim chief investment officer, A. Melissa Moye, as the pension’s permanent CIO.

•Finally, Ronald Schmitz, the chief investment officer of the $60 billion Oregon Public Employees Retirement System, was lured to the $51 billion Virginia Retirement System with a potential pay package of $900,000.

A search to find a replacement for Slattery at New Mexico PERA is expected shortly. The position of executive director there has a base salary of $141,000.

New Mexico PERA and other pensions in New Mexico are fairly typical among the nation’s pensions in that they are currently able to meet only about three-quarters of their expected future liabilities.