Editor’s note: An updated version of this story with CIO Sam Masoudi’s comments can be viewed here.
The executive director of Wyoming’s $8.5 billion pension fund will retire in July. Ruth Reyerson is departing after almost six years, staying on to help the transition as the Wyoming Retirement System searches for her successor.
Staff praised Reyerson’s accomplishments, such as her “focus on building a strong management team at every level of the organization,” according to Laura Ladd, the pension plan’s board chair. Ladd also highlighted Reyerson’s guidance on launching the fund’s online pension administration system.
“The new system dramatically improved service to our membership, making it possible for every member to log in at their convenience and obtain account information,” she said.
In addition to Reyerson’s guidance, the retirement system’s board and its relationship with the state legislature, assumption rate changes also helped increase the fund’s stability, according to a news release.
“I came to WRS because of its good reputation and sincere concern for its members and their families. It has been very rewarding for me to take a good pension program, and keep it strong for the next generation,” Reyerson said.
Collaboration is another area Reyerson made a priority during her time with the fund. Reyerson, along with Sam Masoudi, the retirement system’s chief investment officer, developed an intern program that cultivates local talent from the state university. This turned out to be one of its best decisions.
“By hiring solely from the University of Wyoming, we’re keeping smart local kids in-state and building a more stable investment team,” Masoudi told CIO in a December interview. “This approach has greatly benefited the pension, and Wyoming legislators love it, too.”
The fund added $2 billion to its value under Reyerson’s watch, and its performance was in the 30th percentile of its peers in 2018.
She has fought for both contribution rate increases and benefit adjustments, which requires changes in state law. She also advocated for the law combining the volunteer firefighter and emergency medical tacticians’ plans, which is unique to the state. A new law has added search and rescue divisions to the plan.
“Wyoming is a special place and I will always fondly remember my time here,” said Reyerson.
The Wyoming Retirement System manages the pension assets of eight defined benefit plans: The Public Employees’ Pension Plan, Wyoming State Highway Patrol, Game & Fish Warden and Criminal Investigators, Firemen’s Pension Plan A and B, Judicial Retirement Plan, Wyoming Law Enforcement, Air Guard Firefighter, and the Volunteer Firefighter and EMT Pension Plan. Six of those plans have funding ratios above 75%.
The board immediately launched a replacement search following Reyerson’s announcement. It expects to announce the new executive at its May 15-16 meeting. Vice Chairman Eric Nelson will lead the three-member search team, aided by consulting firm Align.
Interested applicants should send a resume and cover letter along with three professional references by April 12, 2019, to WRSapps@TheAlignTeam.org.
The board’s target allocation mix is 50% stocks, 17.5% private equity, 15.5% marketable alternatives, 15% fixed income, and 2% tactical cash.
Masoudi was unable to be reached for direct comment.