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William Atwood: Life in a Public Pension Fishbowl
Managing a large public pension fund demands transparency, but it “slows you down.”
Bill Atwood works under the hot glare of public scrutiny at the Illinois State Board of Investment, overseeing $14.5 billion in public defined-benefit-plan assets and an additional $3.6 billion in a defined contribution plan for more than 113,000 public employees and retirees. Since he arrived in March 2003, Atwood has improved and upgraded the defined benefit portfolio. He is ever cognizant of fund governance how ISBI is administered while juggling the many different stakeholders and observers of the state pension fund.
At a roundtable discussion for the nine winners of the 2014 Institutional InvestorU.S. Investment Management Awards, Atwood shared the challenges of his role:
On investing in the public arena
Given that Im in Illinois, the value of, and necessity for, transparency and memorialization to stand up in front of God and everybody and make sure everybody knows exactly what and why were doing it slows you down.
On investors short-term memories
Im a little concerned in the macro sense that people arent talking about risk anymore, the way they were two years ago.
On the value of active managers
Im highly skeptical in public markets how much value long-only active managers can add.
Atwood is the Top Large Public Pension Investor of the year. For more, read the full roundtable discussion.