Austin Pension Fund Seeks New CIO

The $3.4 billion City of Austin Employees’ Retirement System has launched a search to replace David Veal.

Three months after the City of Austin Employees’ Retirement System (COAERS) announced that Chief Investment Officer David Veal was stepping down, the $3.4 billion pension found has launched its search for a new permanent CIO.

According to the job posting on COAERS’ website, some of the CIO’s primary job functions include:

  • Developing, recommending, and implementing the overall investment strategy, including asset allocation, risk management, investment operations, and investment policy guidelines;
  • Providing analysis and ongoing review of the portfolio with respect to diversification, capital market conditions, cash flow demands of the system, and liquidity of the assets;
  • Researching and recommending innovative investment management practices that align with COAERS’ investment beliefs and strategic vision; and
  • Overseeing and reporting on all investment costs, such as manager fees, consultant and custodian costs, and internal investment resource budget.

Some of the qualifications for the job include having direct and relevant public fund experience; a proven investment track record and commitment to excellence; significant understanding of risk management; familiarity with the laws and ethical standards regarding pension fund assets; and experience working with a board of trustees.

And the pension fund’s preferred candidates would be certified Chartered Financial Analysts (CFAs) and/or Chartered Alternative Investment Analysts (CAIAs); have an advanced degree in a related field; and have investment experience with a public pension organization of similar size.

“The COAERS investment program is a best-in-class fund,” COAERS Executive Director Christopher Hanson, who is leading the nationwide search, said in a statement. “We’re looking for forward-thinking candidates who possess strong investment credentials, embrace innovation in investment management practices that align with COAERS’ investment beliefs and strategic vision, and can navigate the intellectual challenge of guiding the board through complex investment decisions.”  

David Stafford is currently COAERS’ interim CIO. He joined the retirement system’s investment team as a portfolio manager in 2018 and most recently served as the director of investment strategy.

COAERS has had financial troubles in recent years. Moody’s downgraded its AAA credit rating to the city of Austin in 2019 from stable to negative, citing the city’s “inability to manage the growth of liabilities and costs associated with the retiree benefit systems.” Standard & Poor’s maintained a stable outlook, but said the city’s pattern of raising contribution rates significantly “negatively impacts finances, or material deterioration in the long-term health of the plans could affect the rating.”

That prompted Austin’s City Council Audit & Finance Committee to vote unanimously last year to roll out a plan that would help resolve the balance sheets of COAERS and the Austin Police Retirement System (APRS).

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