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The 2015 Pension 40: Edward (Ted) Siedle

No. 32 Edward (Ted) Siedle, President / Benchmark Financial Services

32
Edward (Ted) Siedle
President / Benchmark Financial Services
Last year’s rank: 33

Hidden fees don’t stay buried long when Edward (Ted) Siedle is around. In late October the 61-year-old founder of pension forensics firm Benchmark Financial Services concluded a probe into Jacksonville, Florida’s police and firefighter pension system at the request of the city council. According to Siedle, poor investment decisions and board monitoring of the $1.43 billion fund resulted in at least $370 million in losses from underperformance over two decades and $36 million in excess fees over six years. “They adopted the highest fiduciary standard known in law and then promptly proceeded to ignore it completely and not even comply with state minimum standards,” Siedle says. Last year he dug into the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island, raising $20,464 from 349 contributors for the first-ever crowdfunded pension audit. According to Siedle — not everyone agrees — preventable losses at the $8 billion pension fund totaled nearly $2 billion. “Mismanagement and ‘politicization’ of pension investments — not excessive benefits promised to workers — are the chief culprits,” he wrote in a June report. A former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer, Siedle founded Benchmark, based in Ocean Ridge, Florida, in 1999 and quickly became a controversial figure in the pension world. Siedle says he has investigated more than $1 trillion in retirement plan assets over his three-decade-long career. What’s the strangest thing he’s seen? “Beanie Babies!” he says. In 2005 the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation had $50 million earmarked for investment in the then-hot stuffed-animal line, as well as rare coins and other collectibles. Justice was served, says Siedle: “The Beanie Baby people went to jail.”

The 2015 Pension 40

1. Bruce Rauner
Illinois
2. John & Laura Arnold
Laura and John Arnold Foundation
3. Chris Christie
New Jersey
4. Randi Weingarten
AmericanFederation of Teachers
5. Phyllis Borzi
U.S. Department
of Labor
6. Kevin de León
California
7. Alejandro García Padilla
Commonwealth ofPuerto Rico
8. Laurence Fink
BlackRock
9. Rahm Emanuel
Chicago
10. Sean McGarvey
North AmericanBuilding Trades Unions
11. John Kline
Minnesota
12. J. Mark Iwry
U.S. Treasury
Department
13. Damon Silvers
AFL-CIO
14. Jeffrey Immelt
General
Electric Co.
15. Joshua Gotbaum
Brookings Institution
16. Robin Diamonte
United Technologies Corp.
17. Mark Mullet
Washington
18. Terry O'Sullivan
Laborers' International Union of North America
19. Raymond Dalio
Bridgewater Associates
20. Ted Wheeler
Oregon
21. Thomas Nyhan
Central States Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund
22. Karen Ferguson & Karen Friedman
Pensions Rights Center
23. Randy DeFrehn
National Coordinating Committee forMultiemployer Plans
24. Robert O'Keef
Motorola Solutions
25. Caitlin Long
Morgan Stanley
26. Kenneth Feinberg
The Law Offices
of Kenneth R. Feinberg
27. Orrin Hatch
Utah
28. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Center for Retirement Initiatives, Georgetown University
29. Ian Lanoff
Groom Law Group
30. Joshua Rauh
Stanford Graduate School of Business
31. Ted Eliopoulos
California Public Employees' Retirement System
32. Edward (Ted) Siedle
Benchmark Financial Services
33. Teresa Ghilarducci
New School for Social Research
34. Denise Nappier
Connecticut
35. W. Thomas Reeder Jr.
Pension BenefitGuaranty Corp.
36. Hank Kim
National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems
37. Paul Singer
Elliott Management Corp.
38. Bailey Childers
National PublicPension Coalition
39. Amy Kessler
Prudential Financial
40. Judy Mares
U.S. Labor Department

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