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Fired CIO of San Diego Pension May Retain Role Until Nearly 2016

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Trustees of the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association (SDCERA) voted in November to fire the firm acting as its outsourced CIO, Salient Partners, and hire an in-house official.

The pension fund could make that hire by March. But trustees learned this week that Salient Partners could retain its asset management duties until November 2015.

The reason for the delay: a consultant told the board that it would be best if Salient continued its duties while a new CIO adjusted to the job and developed and investment strategy.

From U-T San Diego:

Salient Partners, the embattled outside investment strategist for San Diego County’s pension fund, may continue managing much of the $10.3 billion fund through November.

The timeline, which was presented at a meeting Thursday by the pension system’s independent consultant, surprised some trustees who’ve been pressing to fire Salient since late summer.

[…]

“I also thought I understood, at the end of the year (2014), it was stated that we would be terminating the Salient contract after we hired the CIO,” said trustee and county supervisor Dianne Jacob, who moved in September to terminate the contract and begin a transition. The board rejected the motion.

[The fund’s consultant] Scott Whalen advised the board to let Salient continue managing its portions of the portfolio until a new CIO was in place and trustees had settled on a new strategy.

He said the board could fire the firm and shift the investments into index funds, but that would amount to two major portfolio transitions in a brief period.

The SDCERA board voted 8-1 in November to move CIO duties in-house and thus cut ties with Salient Partners.

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