Ashbel Williams Jr. returned for his second tour at the
Florida State Board of Administration (SBA), in October 2008,
as executive director and CIO, the Tallahassee-based system was
already caught in the financial crisiss giant vortex.
Working to save a system that had crashed to $85 billion in
assets by March 2009 from $136.6 billion in June 2007, Williams
had to tackle massive fallout from the credit crisis, which had
decimated a $33 billion money market pool, and rebuild trust in
the government agency, which oversees nearly 40 separate funds,
including the fifth-largest public retirement system in the
Williams now 61 and a fifth-generation Floridian
established an independent risk management and
compliance unit to enhance SBA controls. He built up the
alternative-investment portfolio, adding hedge funds and
more than doubling private equity, and created a global equity
portfolio. Last year the SBA conducted a Valuing the
Vote study, analyzing the impact the agencys proxy
voting decisions had on director elections.
Since 2012 the SBA has had the lowest all-in costs among its
peers, according to Toronto-based consulting firm CEM
Benchmarking. For the 12 months ended December 31, 2015, the
now-$175 billion SBA had a return of 1.48 percent, versus a
median performance of 0.54 percent for public funds with $5
billion-plus in assets in the Wilshire Trust Universe
Williams originally headed the SBA from 1991 to 1996 before
moving to New York to work as CEO of Schroder Capital
Management. The secret to his success at the SBA? The art
is staying true to fiduciary principles, investing prudently
and earning the trust of those many constituencies every
day, he says.
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2016 U.S. Money Masters.
Follow Frances Denmark on Twitter at @francesdenmark.
The 2016 U.S. Money Masters
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