The South Carolina Retirement System has been named “Large Plan of the Year” for 2009 by Institutional Investor Magazine, Information Management Network, and Money Management Letter. The system received the award for its sweeping reform efforts and leading edge design implementation over the past three years. The award was presented at the eighth annual Public Pension Fund Conference. State Treasurer Converse Chellis says that people across the country have experienced losses in their 401(k) accounts and in public pension funds and South Carolina has not been immune. Chellis says it is comforting to see that the State Investment Commission has handled the situation extremely well with some very careful, forward thinking investment planning. “It’s the diversification and the plan and a balanced portfolio, with top investment advisers throughout the United States helping us make our decisions and giving us good guidance on the risk analysis,” said Chellis.
State Investment Commission CEO Robert Borden accepted the award on behalf of the state of South Carolina.
Chellis says creating an effective long term investment plan cannot be done without strong team work coupled with meticulous research. He said, “with Chief Investment Officer Bob Borden leading the way with the Investment Commission headed by Reynolds Williams and Jim Powers it’s all about the decision they made to move their plan from a non-diversified portfolio to very diversified portfolio.”
The state retirement system plan consists of ten of billions of dollars in state employee and police retirement funds.
Chellis says the job of the State Retirement System’s Investment Commission is to do everything they can to to protect the state’s retirement funds while maximizing investment opportunities. “Our strategy is to be defensive during what we call now a bear market, he said, “but at the same time be in a position where we can move to a more bullish position when the markets do turn.”
Money Management Letter said that South Carolina is the only known fund to be considering formalizing a process for adjusting asset allocation for different market scenarios.
Chellis says the Investment Commission is constantly adjusting its long term plans to meet the needs of state retirees now, while making sure the funds are there to take care of the future retirees that will be joining the rolls down the road. According to Chellis, “We first work out what we consider our liquidity position and then we base our investment portfolio around our liquidity, that way we are always assured of what we need to do to pay for retirement benefits and then our investment portfolio is designed to take us out into the future so whenever we reach that future date then our liquidity is there for those retirement benefits, too.”