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Hawaii Pension Finds New CIO on the Mainland

After a messy split with its last investment chief, the fund has hired Elizabeth Burton from Maryland’s state pension to replace Vijoy Chattergy.

The Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawaii has hired hedge fund and risk specialist Elizabeth Burton as its next chief investment officer, according to a Monday press release, which has yet to be made public. 

Burton is set to take over the $16.5 billion pension fund October 1, the announcement said. 

She has spent the last two years with Maryland’s public retirement system. Since joining as a senior investment analyst in 2016, her LinkedIn profile shows that she has risen to managing director of the hedge fund program and head of risk.  

Burton replaces former CIO Vijoy Chattergy, whom ERS trustees abruptly fired in February after more than five years at the helm, as confirmed in an internal email Institutional Investor obtained.  

[II Deep Dive: Hawaii’s Investment Chief Got Fired. Then the Gossip Started.]

ERS appointed investment officer Howard Hodel — himself a risk specialist — as interim CIO shortly after Chattergy’s dismissal. The fund retained Honolulu executive recruiting firm Kumabe HR to facilitate a nationwide search, which last five months and “generated an exceptional list of well-qualified candidates,” the announcement said. 

“I could not be more pleased with the board’s selection of Elizabeth Burton to head our investment team,” executive director Thomas Williams stated. “We are confident that her broad and extensive experience will be a valuable asset to the ERS as we develop next generation investment competency within the system.”

In a March interview at ERS’s Honolulu headquarters, Williams told II he envisioned changing the CIO role to share portfolio oversight among an internal investment committee, rather than concentrate it with the leader. 

Burton said in the statement that she is “honored and excited to be joining Hawaii ERS,” and wished its 46,000 pension beneficiaries “Aloha!” 

She is set to take over ERS’s fairly complex and derivatives-heavy portfolio strategy, which Chattergy put in place during his tenure. Burton’s official role at the $52 billion Maryland state fund is managing director of the quantitative strategies group, and she previously co-managed a fund-of-hedge funds portfolio, served as a quantitative risk analyst, and traded fixed income securities.

Burton could not be reached for comment by time of publication. 

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