The Oregon State Treasury is pushing for funds to add more
than 30 new staff members to the investment office responsible
for managing the states $72 billion pension fund.
In a presentation to the state legislature last week, the
treasury requested a nearly $10 million budget increase to
modernize and grow its investment management program. The
additional funds would enable the state investment division to
add 32 permanent positions to its staff, which oversees $94
billion in state funds including the Oregon Public Employees
Retirement Fund. This would more than double the fund's
investment staff, which now employs 30 people in the division.
Currently, the investment program ranks in the bottom quartile
for personnel numbers among peers of similar size and portfolio
composition, according to a November 2016 CEM Benchmarking
It is really just a skeleton crew, said John
Skjervem, the treasurys CIO.
The proposal aims to upgrade risk management
capabilities and decrease reliance on external asset
managers, according to presentation materials. It follows a
successful bid to increase the investment programs budget
during Oregons last legislative session its first
budget increase in years, according to
We used [the last increase] to build the middle and
back office, he said. This time around we want to
put more boots on the ground in the investment office and in
private markets in particular.
If the budget is approved, Skjervem said the positions would
be split between the investment front office and governance,
operations, and support staff. He hopes to add two new
investment officers to support the investment offices $15
billion private equity portfolio, which is now run by just
three people. The state legislature has not scheduled a vote on
the treasury budget bill but needs to pass budgets before it
adjourns. The last date to do this is July 10.
Former treasurer Ted Wheeler previously tried to bolster
Oregons investment office by spinning the program out of
the treasury and increasing its in-house capabilities, but
was unsuccessful in getting a bill passed by the state
legislature. Now, the treasury is run by Tobias Read, a former
legislator who was elected treasurer last year.
With a new treasurer at the helm, Skjervem is optimistic
they will be able to get the budget approved.
We think the odds are very good, he said.