Return to search

Pay isn’t the only problem

Not every public pension fund struggles with pay. Some face staffing shortfalls.

That’s one main challenge at the Oregon State Treasury, which is seeking legislation to update the leadership structure at the $70 billion retirement system.

“I have no problem trying to retain staff … Oregon is a highly desirable place to live and we have a well-known, winning investment brand,” said John Skjervem, chief investment officer at the Oregon State Treasury. “I have people stalking me to work here, but right now, neither I nor the Oregon Investment Council (OIC) have the budget authority to hire them.”

His department employs 13 people, plus it receives expertise from consultants like TorreyCove Capital Partners, Callan and PCA, but Oregon remains “at or near the bottom” in terms of internal staff resources relative to public plan peers, he said.

Skjervem said he’ll be working to pass a law next year called the Investment Modernization Act, which would help give the OIC new budget and operating authority ”commensurate with its long-standing fiduciary responsibility,” Skjervem said.

The measure would give the OIC flexibility to evolve the state’s investment model, a process that would likely include an updated and strengthened governance structure, cost savings from a better balance between internally- and externally-managed investment strategies, more local job opportunities and expanded risk management and compliance activities, he added.

The OIC recently hired BlackRock Solutions to provide updated investment and risk management infrastructure. The OIC has also publically endorsed the state Treasury’s plan to add six positions.

Under Oregon’s current model, the plan requires approval from members of the state legislature at a December budget hearing. –Steve Gelsi