Taking the reins of the newly created post is money management veteran Brian Collett. In the position, Collett will w atch over SCRS’ generally conservative investment panel and provide a counterweight to its roughly 17 outside money managers, according to a Charleston Post Courier report.
Collett currently is a senior technology analyst with the Frank Russell Investment Group, an international investment management company based in Tacoma, Washington. He will start in his new position January 13, 2004 at an annual salary of $95,000.
The relative late coming of an equity analyst at the fund is not that surprising given that South Carolina only began investing pension funds in stocks in 1999 – the last state in the nation to make such a move. Since that time, the system has moved 40% of the pension fund into stocks, the maximum permitted by law.
Even with the sudden shift into equities, the Palmetto State maintained a conservative strategy that helped buoy investment returns at a time many public pension were suffering catastrophic losses. Data from Wilshire Associates Inc shows SCRS has returned 9% as of June 30, more than double the national median of about 4%. Further, in 2002, South Carolina’s fund was one of only handful to post an investment return in black ink.
Thus, holding to the old adage, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” the state will continue to contract with Mercer Investment Consulting, which provides investment analysis, money manager searches and other consulting services; bringing Collett on to filter some of the advice given by Mercer.