Texas Teachers’ Gets Serious About Emerging Managers

The massive pension fund has hired a new program chief from its peer in Illinois.

Kirk Sims (Courtesy photo)

Kirk Sims

(Courtesy photo)

The $150 billion Teacher Retirement System of Texas has hired Kirk Sims to lead its growing emerging manager investment program, the Austin-based fund announced Friday during a trustee meeting.

Sims’s position at TRS will include oversight of the existing $5.7 billion program, in addition to “this year’s roll-out of the system’s new $3 billion commitment to the Emerging Manager 3.0 Program. It focuses on innovating with emerging investors to further enhance the trust’s value,” the announcement said.

Sims has been working in a similar role at TRS’s counterpart in Illinois, overseeing nearly $8 billion dedicated to emerging and minority managers. Before joining the state fund in late 2013, Sims worked in research for Prudential Retirement’s manager-of-managers platform and at First Trust Portfolios.

His hiring represents “a next chapter in a long-standing, productive program,” according to TRS board chairman Jarvis Hollingsworth. During its initial launch in 2004, Hollingsworth was a TRS board member.

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“When we started the TRS Emerging Manager Program, we did so with the belief that small and emerging managers could outperform their larger counterparts and deliver important portfolio diversification,” he said at an event in April 2018, when TRS revealed plans to add $3 billion to the strategy.

On March 1 Sims is to take over from COO Sylvia Bell, who has been leading the initiative alongside TRS’s operations.

A Howard University graduate, Sims holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.