Sean Bill, who has served as chief investment officer of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority for the past 10 years, will be stepping down from his position on March 31.
“I feel like it is a good time to repot myself and take on a new challenge,” Bill said in an email. “I will be joining Prime Meridian Capital Management, which is a Bay Area private credit fund.”
During Bill’s tenure as chairman and CIO of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s Other Post Employment Benefit Trust, the fund has returned 10.40% net of fees versus its benchmark of 9.80% annualized.
While at VTA, Bill oversaw two funds, the pension and the retirees’ health plan. When he arrived, both funds primarily invested in three asset classes: equities, real estate, and fixed income. Bill felt there was room for improvement.
“One of the things that I really wanted to do during my time there was to try to diversify the plans and hopefully improve the risk-adjusted returns,” Bill told CIO.
Bill added absolute return hedge funds, private credit, and created a dedicated sleeve to Treasurys.
“I really felt like it was important for us to start trimming back the fixed-income allocation and find higher coupon short-duration instruments that we could invest in,” he said.
Bill’s desire to diversify VTA’s portfolio also led it to become one of the first public pensions to have exposure to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. And while Bill remains a believer that blockchain technology will continue to drive lucrative investment returns in the future, there is another asset class that he feels presents even more opportunity. “I think the best risk-adjusted returns that are available to an investor today are in private credit,” he said.
That’s one of the main reasons he was drawn to take up the position at Prime Meridian, an investment management firm that specializes in private credit.
Bill first met Prime Meridian’s founder, Don Davis, at a fintech conference back in 2014.
“To me, Prime Meridian in a super interesting spot because they are one of the original private credit funds, buying peer-to-peer loans that were originating on Prosper or LendingClub and various other platforms,” Bill said.
Bill added that he is also excited about the firm’s innovative approach to investing in specialty finance and alternative lending.
“I think this will be a great place,” he said. “I see this as my last job.”
Bill is also known for his recreational love of discussing big macroeconomic topics. He runs a blog at MacroCrunch.com, which analyzes macroeconomic trends. Paying close attention to macro trends has also helped him develop strategies for his investments. In an article for CIO Magazine last December, he also shared his tips for navigating the pandemic business cycle.
As for his blogging, Bill said that while he has taken a short break over the past few months, he plans on going back online soon.
“I just got super busy,” he said. “But I’m going to get it going again because I love to do the blog, it is a great way to maintain an ambient presence with my friends and colleagues.”