Exclusive: CIO Mansco Perry of Minnesota Is Retiring

The chief investment officer nearly doubled the state pension’s AUM to $130 billion in under 10 years.

Mansco Perry III. Art by John Jay Cabuay

Mansco Perry III has announced his retirement, completing some 30 years of service to the state of Minnesota, most recently as the executive director and CIO of the Minnesota State Board of Investment (SBI).

For the past eight years of his tenure as CIO, the pension fund’s total assets under management have almost doubled, up from $68 billion in 2013 to nearly $130 billion as of Sept. 30. Perry plans on retiring from SBI in 2022, but those who know him say they aren’t convinced he’ll be retiring altogether. (They joke that if the Yankees’ front office calls him, he’ll drop everything.)

In his current role, Perry reports to the governor of Minnesota and its investment board, and he is renowned for his skills as both investor and effective liaison and navigator between the state government, the board, and the investment office.

He has a board mandate to grow the $130 billion fund, under sharp risk control. Perry has excelled in a way few others have, creating a solid and safe investment structure with returns rarely seen. This past year, early numbers showed the pension plan returning 30.3% for 2021, the highest return since 1983, when the fund logged 40.3%.

When comparing his returns against other reporting public plans with $20 billion or more, Perry’s plan has been ranked in the top 1% for the past 10 years, according to the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service (TUCS). Combined with a sharp focus on cost efficiency, Perry also leverages the advantages of scale at his successful plan and has saved the state of Minnesota more than $100 million in fees.

Throughout his financial services career, he has held roles as a leader of corporate, college endowment, and public funds, with earlier roles as an auditor, analyst, and compliance officer. In that time, Perry has implemented strategic, forward-thinking investment strategies that created high-impact innovations; built teams and processes that improved performance; cut losses; and drove effective results. He is a preferred mentor in financial offices and has decades of experience working with governance boards.

Perry achieves success through leadership and effective negotiation. He oversees more than 150 investment relationships with his staff of 12, spread over 50 public equities managers and 100 private market managers. With a keen eye toward growth strategy, he is currently building a co-investment program, as well as a team of native managers in Asia, as he has effectively done in Europe. He has implemented environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives within his fund and added an ESG component to his quarterly report.

When he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by this publication in 2018, he recognized that he’s a product of the 1960s’ Neighborhood Youth Corp and Upward Bound (in Newark, New Jersey), two government programs meant to fight the war on poverty that gave him early work training and paved the way to him becoming the first person in his family to attend college.

Earlier in his career, Perry gained corporate expertise working at Cargill Inc. with a small group of MBA graduates as a divisional controller, performing financial analysis for management. At Dayton Hudson (now Target) he worked as a financial analyst, performing real quarter-by quarter accounting for the company, while attending law school at night. He was also recruited by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis to work as special assistant to the senior vice president of finance.

When he was hired by the state of Minnesota, Perry first began in the tax department and was later directed to create a system of financial accountability for auditing gains. 

From there, Perry’s multifaceted talents were quickly recognized, and he held roles as an alternatives analyst, director of research, and assistant executive director, where he coordinated and charted the entire workflow of the investment office, gaining control of menial and intellectual property. He left to broaden and further his leadership skills by taking an endowment post as chief investment officer.

Perry is known for building strong relationships, to the benefit of those affiliated with him. When he became CIO of the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System in 2008, the pension plan benefited from his early connections in Minnesota, and the small fund was able to establish beneficial relationships with firms such as KKR.

His has board experience on the boards or investment committees of Lawrence University, the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System, the Bush Foundation, the Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Minnesota Private College Council, and the William Mitchell College of Law (where he graduated from law school).  

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