Maryland SRPS Returns 10% in FY2017

Private, public equity reap the majority of gains.

The Maryland State Retirement & Pension System’s portfolio returned 10.02% on investments for the 2017 fiscal year ended June 30, increasing the system’s assets to $49.1 billion.

The return defeated the 7.55% assumed actuarial return rate and the plan’s 9.90% policy benchmark. According to the Maryland Reporter, this also raised the five-year average to 7.64%. The 10- and 20-year averages are 4.15% and 5.65%, respectively.

Last week, the board announced it will reduce its assumed rate of return to 7.45% for the next two years, when it will next reevaluate if additional reductions will be necessary.

Public and private equity—which accounted for a total of 49% of assets allocated—returned 19% and 16.4%, respectively. They were followed by credit, real assets, absolute returns, and cash, which returned 10%, 4.7%, 3.3%, and 5.1%, respectively.

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The only negative returns were from the second-largest class, rate-sensitive assets, which resulted in a -2.11% return. Rate-sensitive assets consisted of 21% of asset allocations.

“Stable and improving economic growth across the globe, along with stabilization in energy markets, supported significant growth in our equity and credit valuations over the past year,” Andrew C. Palmer, Maryland SRPS CIO, said in a statement. “While these returns are welcome, as long-term investors, we expect some volatility in meeting the assumed rate of return, which has been and will continue to be our long-term expectation for the system.”

“The action taken by the board is part of its overall strategy to increase the probability of achieving investment returns required to improve the health of the retirement System and meet its obligations to its members,” said State Treasurer Nancy Kopp in a statement. “Recognizing that both the inflation experience and expectations for future inflation remain lower than the rate currently assumed, the board felt it reasonable to reduce the expected return accordingly.”

The last time the board reduced the assumed rate of return was in 2013, when it lowered it to 7.55% from 7.75% over a period of four years. The previous rate had been in effect since 2003.

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