Amid Internal Clashes, San Diego Hunts for CIO

The public pension’s OCIO experiment with Salient Partners is reaching a tumultuous end.

Recruitment is set to begin in earnest early next month for an internal CIO for the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association (SDCERA).

After voting eight-to-one in June to wholly outsource the $10 billion portfolio to Salient Partners, the board changed course only months later. In September, a motion to terminate the $10 million contract was narrowly defeated, but SDCERA will soon begin actively searching for an internal replacement.  

Mary Hobson of recruitment firm EFL Associates told the board on Thursday that job postings would go up early in the new year. She said she aims to present a pool of candidates to the board for consideration by February 6.

“As a woman and woman of color, I find Mr. Meyer’s attack on me racist and sexist.” —Trustee Samantha Begovich 

Already, according to Hobson, between eight and ten people have contacted her expressing interest in the position. 

However, board members themselves indicated that recruitment efforts could be hamstrung by their highly public and ongoing infighting. 

Vice Chairman David Meyers, who has consistently supported the deal with Salient Partners, asked that transcripts of yesterday’s meeting and one in September be combined and given to serious candidates for the job.

“The hypocrisy of this board should be shared with any new CIO that comes forward,” Meyers said. “Talk about running scared.”

The salary for the new position remains capped by lawmakers at $209,000 per year, although Hobson intends to recruit candidates that could fall outside that range.

“I want to leave us wiggle room to talk to people who may need more than that, to see if you can try and push that through,” she said. The job posting will stipulate “a competitive salary,” and said, intentionally leaving compensation details “pretty vague.” 

“The hypocrisy of this board should be shared with any new CIO that comes forward. Talk about running scared.” —Trustee David Meyers

Following individual discussions with the board members, Hobson strengthened the posting to say SDCERA “encouraged diversity” from interested parties, and she would work to present them with minority and women candidates. 

Still, a few hours prior, one trustee requested the secretary include in the meeting minutes that another member had made racist and sexist remarks against her.

“As a woman and woman of color, I find Mr. Meyer’s attack on me racist and sexist,” said Samantha Begovich, the board’s newest member and a lawyer with the district attorney.

Trustee Meyers had requested “that she put the pitchfork down, stop storming the castle, and stick to the facts” during an argument about additional audits.  

Those interested in the CIO position can contact Mary Hobson at EFL Associates

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