Japan Pension CIO Gets 60 Percent Pay Raise


Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) has already indicated they will increase salaries for their money managers in a bid to attract more talent.

But the fund’s chief investment officer is getting a raise, as well. Hiromichi Mizuno, the fund’s CIO, will get a 64 percent pay bump this year.

The GPIF hopes the gesture will demonstrate their willingness to shell out cash for talent.

From Bloomberg:

Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund will increase total annual compensation of its president to about 31 million yen ($260,000), including salary, bonuses and allowances, according to calculations by Shinichiro Mori, a director at the fund’s planning section. That compares with 18.9 million yen previously slated for the year ending March 31, Mori said by phone. The pay increase is effective this month, he said.

Boosting pay may help the pension fund hire more money managers from the private sector as it shifts more of its $1.1 trillion from bonds to riskier assets. Even after the increase, the GPIF’s top official will be paid almost 40 percent less than the chief executive officer at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest U.S. public pension.

“Compared with global standards and given the responsibility as the top asset manager, the amount still isn’t that big,” said Tetsuya Sakabe, managing director at recruitment adviser Kanae Associates Ltd. in Tokyo. “But it’s positive to see that they’ve improved the compensation structure and the amount is reasonable enough to avoid incurring criticism from the public.”


GPIF won flexibility from the health ministry last March to pay higher salaries.

“GPIF decided the president’s new pay standard after a comprehensive review taking into account consistency with other public organizations,” including the central bank, Mori said in the phone interview on Jan. 6. For the CIO, “we took into account the trend at private financial firms in order to secure highly professional human resources, without exceeding the pay level for the president.”

The GPIF manages $1.1 trillion in assets and is the largest pension fund in the world.


Photo by Ville Miettinen

Japan Pension Begins Search For New Money Managers


The end of 2014 was a busy period for Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF). The fund overhauled its asset allocation and will be putting 50 percent of its assets in equities while cutting its bond holdings.

In a related move, the fund will be looking for a new crop of money managers to handle investment duties, and the GPIF is willing to shell out more money for better talent.

Businessweek reports that the GPIF could begin recruiting managers officially next month. From Businessweek:

Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund may use a private seminar next month to inform potential job applicants as part of its efforts to recruit professional money managers to the world’s largest investor of retirement savings.

Yasuhiro Yonezawa, chairman of the investment committee at the $1.1 trillion fund, is expected to discuss GPIF’s reforms and the qualifications it wants from future staff, said Nobukiyo Akiyama, an executive at Kotora Co., a Japanese executive search firm that’s organizing the Feb. 13 event.

GPIF is seeking to hire experienced investors as it shifts to riskier assets from bonds in anticipation of faster inflation under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Hiromichi Mizuno, a former partner of London-based private-equity firm Coller Capital Ltd., became its first chief investment officer this month.

“The fund will have to obtain professionals that have know-how and skills for private equity, venture capital and real-estate investments following the reform, besides back-office staff,” Akiyama, manager of the chief executive officer’s office at the Tokyo-based executive search firm, said in an interview yesterday. “That’s a very specialized area.”

Kotora, which has 20,000 job seekers registered with the firm, plans to invite 80 individual and corporate clients from the asset-management industry to the seminar, which will be held in Tokyo, Akiyama said.


The pension fund won flexibility last year to pay higher salaries to attract investment staff instead of government officials.

The GPIF plans to hire about 40 new managers, according to Businessweek.

The fund manages $1.1 trillion in assets and is the largest pension fund in the world.


Photo by Ville Miettinen via Flickr CC License

Inside Arkansas Pension’s Farmland Portfolio

Farm Holdings of Arkansas Teacher Retirement System

Money managers, venture capitalists and institutional investors are increasingly donning their straw hats and getting to work in rural America.

Investments in farmlands have been on the rise. The Arkansas Teachers’ Retirement (ATRS) System, for example, has invested $73 million in farmland in the last four years.

Arkansas Business takes a peek inside ATRS’ rural investments:

“To us, farmland is like a pure Arkansas-flavored investment,” said George Hopkins, ATRS executive director. “Our only regret is that we weren’t there 10 years ago.”

The state’s largest pension fund has invested about $73 million in 14,580 acres of cropland since it began building its roster of farm holdings four years ago.

ATRS owns nine farm properties scattered from Indiana to Idaho and from Wisconsin to Florida.

The May acquisition of Dawson Farms added a new crop to a roster that includes organic oranges, sugar beets, barley, alfalfa, kidney beans and popcorn as well as mainstays such as rice, wheat, corn and soybeans.

ATRS intends to allocate up to 1 percent of its nearly $14.7 billion-asset investment portfolio to agriculture property.

“We think that’s 1 percent that will provide quality returns over time,” Hopkins said.

The agri properties are a subset of the pension fund’s $1.6 billion real estate segment. The biggest chunk of that is almost $1.2 billion worth of retail, office, industrial and apartment investments. Timber property accounts for about $347 million more.

ATRS has adopted the low-risk role of landlord with its farm investments. Purchased for cash, the properties are leased for crop production that generates a reliable flow of income.

Why farmland? ATRS explains:

ATRS officials began to explore agriculture property as an avenue to further diversify its investments in early 2010.

“It’s not uncommon for people to ask us to look at doing this or doing that and investing with them,” Hopkins said. “Along the way, we were asked, ‘Have you ever thought about investing in agriculture?’

“After a while it became clear we needed to be investing in farmland. It’s a great inflation hedge, a slow and steady performer that is outside the stock market.”

Here’s a summary of ATRS’ farmland portfolio:

Investment Acres Primary Crops
Bridge Farm, Idaho $16.2 million 4,241 Barley, sugar beets
Dundy Farm, Nebraska $11.8 million 2,317 Wheat, corn, kidney beans, popcorn
Darlington Ridge Farm, Wisconsin $10.9 million 1,537 Alfalfa, corn
Duvall Farm, Cross County $9.9 million 2,801 Soybeans, rice
Dawson Farms, Louisiana $8.2 million 1,596 Sweet potatoes, corn, soybeans
80 Foot Road Grove Farm, Florida $6.6 million 463 Organic oranges
Wright Farm, Indiana $5.8 million 854 Corn, wheat
Miller Farm, Prairie County $3.1 million 771 Soybeans, rice
Total $73.2 million 14,580


Photo credit: Arkansas Business

Florida Pension Cuts PIMCO

palm tree

In the latest vote of non-confidence in a post-Bill Gross PIMCO, the Florida State Board of Administration (SBA), the entity that manages investments for the Florida Retirement Systems, has announced it will drastically cut its investments with PIMCO.

From the New York Times:

The investment body overseeing the state of Florida’s retirement system said Tuesday that it would be sharply curtailing the funds that it has allocated to the shaken bond giant.

In a statement, Dennis Mackee, a spokesman for the $147 billion pension fund, said that $1.9 billion in assets managed by PIMCO as a separate investment account for Florida would be “significantly reduced.”

Mackee also said that Florida’s investment plan would be terminating PIMCO’s Total Return Fund and its Inflation Response Multi-Asset Strategy Fund. Together, the funds managed just over $1 billion for Florida retirees.

Adding insult to injury, Mackee said that this money would be steered toward two funds belonging to PIMCO’s archrival, BlackRock.

Mackee said that Blackrock would also be one of several other money managers receiving the separate account money withdrawn from PIMCO.

As with many state retirement funds, Florida had put PIMCO on its watch list after reports that its two leaders, Bill Gross and Mohamed El-Erian, were feuding.

The Florida Retirement System is one of the largest public pension funds in the United States. It manages $147 billion.

Video: The Evolution of Allocating to Hedge Funds


Bloomberg TV sat down with Agecroft Partners founder Don Steinbrugge to talk about pension fund investments in hedge funds and what it means for both sides.

Other topics touched: hedge funds facing the reality of having to settle for less fees and more transparency to play ball with pension funds, and paying pension fund staff market rates. Watch the video here:

Pension360 has also covered the recent counter-evolution of hedge fund allocation, a trend in which many pension funds across the country are pulling back their hedge fund investments.

CalPERS, for instance, plans to pull back 40 percent of their hedge fund investments in the near future.


Photo by Simon Cunningham via Flickr CC License