San Diego Pension Begins Transition To In-House CIO

board room chair

The Board of the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association (SDCERA) moved closer on Thursday to firing Salient Partners, the firm that acts as the pension fund’s chief investment officer.

Board members indicated that the firing was all but official, but that the transition to a new CIO still needs to be worked out.

From Bloomberg:

If the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association goes ahead with the proposal, it would mean the end of the fund’s five-year relationship with Houston-based Salient Partners LP, said board member Dianne Jacob, a San Diego County supervisor.

Just two months ago, the board voted 5-4 against firing Salient after some officials criticized the chief investment officer, Lee Partridge, as needlessly risking retiree income through use of futures contracts tied to securities and commodities.

“It sounds like we are going to terminate the contract,” Jacob said yesterday in a board meeting in San Diego. “It’s just a matter of timing and the transition.”

The company remains committed to its work in San Diego, said Chris Moon Ashraf, a spokeswoman for Salient at Jennifer Connelly Public Relations.

“Should the board determine that a change in provider is in the best interest of its members, Salient will work to ensure a smooth and expeditious transition,” she said in a statement.

The pension board directed its staff to set the timing for terminating the contract with Salient. The board didn’t schedule a vote on ending the contract, or take action on hiring an internal investment chief.

SDCERA pays Salient Partners around $8 million a year. Board members have previously indicated that the salary for a new CIO would likely be around $260,000.