NM Pension Fund Director Resigns

September 30, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) board has accepted the resignation of Executive Director Terry Slattery effective October 14.

The Associated Press reports Slattery is leaving to become the Executive Director of the Municipal Fire and Police Retirement System of Iowa. He plans to assume the job early next year.  

Slattery said it was a personal decision and the move will allow him to return to the Midwest. He said a recruitment firm contacted him about the job in Iowa.  

PERA Board Chairwoman Nancy Hewitt said the governing board didn’t pressure Slattery to leave. According to the AP, New Mexico’s two large public employee pension programs have come under greater scrutiny by the Legislature and lawmakers continue to debate possible changes to retirement benefits and higher payroll contributions to shore up the long-term finances of the pension funds (see Public Pension Changes Approved by NM House). The PERA fund reported unfunded liabilities of $3 billion last year and that figure was nearly $5 billion for the retirement program for educators.  

Slattery said the recent financial upheaval had made it the most difficult time in his 25 years in the pension industry. “I don’t shirk those challenges, it’s just time for a change,” he told the AP.  

PERA is the pension program for state and local government workers, firefighters, and law enforcement in New Mexico. It covers about 30,000 retirees and 50,000 current workers. The fund had assets valued at about $12 billion as of June 30, down from nearly $13.5 billion in September 2007.  

The Iowa retirement fund is smaller, with about 3,700 retirees and assets with a market value of about $1.8 billion at the end of March.