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Ex-Mercy Health CIO to Lead Orange County Pension

Molly Murphy will take over a $14 billion portfolio — more than double the assets of her prior role — as chief investment officer of the California public fund.

  • Leanna Orr

The Orange County Employees Retirement System has hired veteran healthcare chief investment officer Molly Murphy to lead its $14 billion portfolio.

Murphy, previously CIO at Mercy Health in Cincinnati, will relocate to Southern California for a June 23 start at the defined benefit retirement system in Santa Ana, according to a statement Tuesday from the Orange County pension fund. She spent a dozen years managing assets for Mercy Health, a $5 billion healthcare system formally known as Catholic Health Partners, leaving in June 2016 after the group’s longtime Chief Executive Officer Michael Connelly announced his resignation.

Based on Orange County Employees Retirement System documents, Murphy is moving into one of California’s best-paid public pension CIO roles. The fund paid its prior CIO, Girard Miller, $528,889 in total compensation for 2016, including pension benefits worth $92,756.

“Her successful investment experience, in-depth knowledge of the market, as well as years of team leadership impressed the search committee,” Orange County Employees Retirement System’s CEO Steve Delaney said in the announcement of her hiring.

The Orange County pension fund has been without a dedicated portfolio head since Miller resigned in January, following a four-year tenure marked by bold initiatives and eccentric public statements. Last year, for example, Miller authored a request for proposals from consulting firms that asked, “Do you host or sponsor ‘pay-to-play’ or ‘clients4free but managers pay’ conferences?” and required that firms force-rank their competitors.

Murphy rose to senior investment positions in the private sector before managing institutional money in-house. Murphy began her career at Fidelity Investments in 1989 and then became a fixed-income portfolio manager at Fifth Third Asset Management in 1993, according to her LinkedIn bio page. She co-founded bond boutique Seasongood Asset Management in 2000, serving as CIO until 2004.

Mercy Health, now led by John Starcher, has not hired another CIO to replace Murphy, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. A spokesperson for Mercy Health didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.