A flippant, fearless, and fundamental countdown of big money investing.

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#24 Compensation

Investing in Talent

The New York City Bureau of Asset Management (BAM) was in trouble.

The bureau—responsible for oversight of the city’s five pension funds—was seriously understaffed, and suffering from significant turnover and gaping vacancies.

Consultant Funston Advisory attributed the personnel problems to ineffective recruitment and a lack of investment in training and talent development. But the biggest cause was compensation.

Pay at BAM ranked in the fourth quartile of comparable public funds. If the bureau was going to invest assets well, the consultants urged, it needed to invest in its people.

“To attract and retain the best and brightest, we need to pay our staff appropriately for the work they are doing and ensure that all employees have access to training opportunities to improve themselves and our office,” explains Scott Stringer, New York City Comptroller. “This is not about fairness—making these changes is part of our fiduciary obligation as trustees of the 715,000-member New York City pension system to get the most out of our investment team.”

Under Stringer’s leadership, BAM began taking steps in the summer of 2015 toward a new compensation model, one that would put pay at the peer-group median. Key employees including CIO Scott Evans saw their salaries climb 50% or more.

In March, the bureau went a step further, calling on the pension system’s board members to approve additional funds for staff training and development. 

As Evans then told the boards, “If you don’t have good people, you can’t succeed. I want every employee to feel we are going to make a long-term investment in them.”

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