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Andrew Junkin’s New Gig? CIO at Rhode Island’s Pension Fund.

The former president of Wilshire Consulting began his new job on June 22.

Andrew Junkin is taking the helm at the Rhode Island investment office, making the move about three months after Wilshire Associates announced he was leaving his role as president of its consulting business.

Rhode Island’s treasurer said this week that Junkin began serving as chief investment officer of the $8.4 billion state pension fund portfolio on June 22. He replaces Alec Stais, who stepped down in May to become CIO at Providence Health & Services, according to his LinkedIn profile

Junkin spent 15 years at Wilshire, serving on the company’s board for five years before the firm announced his departure in March. He was president of Wilshire Consulting since 2015.

“I look forward to working with Treasurer [Seth] Magaziner, his team, and members of the State Investment Commission,” Junkin said in the office’s statement on his hiring. “I share their commitment to ensuring that Rhode Island’s pension system continues on its path of long-term growth and stability for our members who have spent their careers serving others.” 

[II Deep Dive: Andrew Junkin to Depart Wilshire Associates

Rhode Island’s investment office implemented a “back to basics” strategy in 2016, which reduced the state’s investments in hedge funds by $500 million, according to an announcement at the time. That money was then invested in growth and income strategies that “mainly consist of low-fee index funds.” 

The pension fund said Wednesday that it returned 6.6 percent net of fees over the 12 months through May, beating its benchmark return of 5.6 percent for the same period. Its “Crisis Protection Class” was a strong driver of the 12-month investment performance, returning 15.7 percent, according to the statement. 

The asset class was added as a part of Rhode Island’s “back to basics” program to produce strong returns and liquidity during a growth crisis, according to July 2016 meeting materials. The strategy was set up to invest only in liquid assets for easy rebalancing, with a proposed structure including long-term treasuries, trend-following and managed futures strategies, and liquid alternatives, according to the presentation at the time. 

Rhode Island has also beat its benchmark over the past decade, if only slightly. In the 10 years through May, the pension posted an annualized return of 7.5 percent, compared to a benchmark gain of 7.4 percent, the state’s website shows.  

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