Texas Teachers CIO Provides Details on Potential Singapore Office

Chase CEO Jamie Dimon to provide market insights in September board meeting.

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas’s chief investment officer identified some challenges and savings with its plans for a possible new Singapore office during the first day of its two-day board meeting.

Jerry Albright kept his CIO update brief, mostly focusing on the fund’s progress on its “Building the Fleet” strategy. The tactic seeks to boost its internal operations while saving the plan more than $1 billion per year in management fees.

He expressed excitement in the $153 billion fund possibly opening a Singapore branch, which has been dubbed the Teacher Retirement Investment Company of Texas—Asia, or TRICOTA. TRICOTA is an offshoot of its successful London office (TRICOT), which is approaching its fourth year.

“We’ve been on this track a number of years,” he said at the meeting. “We didn’t pull it out of the air.”

Albright said if the board decides to open the new overseas location, the fund will “essentially try to replicate what we did in London.” He admitted that unlike the quick success it experienced in the UK, it might be a little slower for Texas Teachers to turn a profit in Asia due to cultural differences. “I don’t think it will be easier where we’re going,” he said, adding that the location will ultimately make more money for the retirement plan.

Meanwhile, the CIO noted that the fund can save up to $300,000 per year by relocating a trader from the Austin office. He also quipped that the budget was “basically identical” to that of its London operation, and with boots on the ground in the Asian financial hub, Texas Teachers will also be 14 hours closer to deals in the region.

According to Albright’s presentation, four individuals would be part of the initial Singapore team, which would eventually expand. Materials were given regarding which team members the fund is considering moving to Singapore, but were not publicly disclosed.

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas currently has $22.2 billion, or 14.8%, of its total holdings in Asia-Pacific assets.

In other matters, JP Morgan Chase Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon will trade in his suit and tie for cowboy boots and a 10-gallon hat when he visits the retirement system in September for its board meeting, Albright announced.

The banking chief will be giving the $152.5 billion fund his view on the current market conditions and share his insights, which he has done in the past.

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