America’s Largest Public Pension Is In Search Of A New CIO (Forbes)

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North Pier’s Managing Partner Jim Scheinberg is now a Forbes Online Contributor. As a contributor, Jim will bring over three decades of institutional investment consulting and expertise to deliver exclusive capital markets and economic insights to’s global audience. Read his latest article below.

America’s Largest Public Pension Is In Search Of A New CIO

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest public pension system in the United States, is on the hunt for a new Chief Investment Officer. This development comes after the unexpected resignation of CIO Nicole Musicco, who will reportedly vacate her post on September 29th.

CalPERS is a crucial financial institution providing retirement and health benefits to more than 1.9 million public employees, retirees, and their families. It stands as the largest public pension fund in the U.S., managing approximately $463.6 billion in assets. Given its significant role, the position of CIO at CalPERS is among the most influential in the investment world.

According to a CalPERS press statement announcing the resignation, Musicco’s decision to step down just 18 months into her tenure was driven by personal reasons, primarily to attend to her family needs in Toronto, Canada. In her statement, she expressed her pride in leading the CalPERS investment office and fulfilling the retirement promises to millions of Californians dedicated to public service. “However, at this time I need to prioritize those who need me the most, my family and children,” said Musicco.

Musicco’s unexpected departure further highlights the increasing scrutiny on internally managed pensions. With the recent trend toward OCIOs, disruptive changes like this only heighten the need for investment program evaluations that independent boards of multi-billion dollar pension funds must undertake when selecting the proper structures for the management of public assets.

In the wake of Musicco’s departure, CalPERS announced that Deputy CIO Dan Bienvenue would take over the reins on an interim basis. Bienvenue’s experience and understanding of the system make him a logical choice for managing the transition period until a permanent CIO is appointed.

The Search For A New CalPERS CIO

CalPERS is expected to launch an extensive search to find a suitable successor for this critical position. The new CIO will be tasked with the significant responsibility of overseeing the investment returns from the substantial portfolio of assets that CalPERS manages. This role is paramount in ensuring the financial security of countless retirees who rely on the system for their post-employment benefits.

The change in leadership at CalPERS will likely have considerable implications for the investment community. As one of the most influential institutional investors, the strategies and decisions made at CalPERS often set the tone for others in the industry. The new CIO will inevitably bring their unique perspective and approach, potentially leading to investment focus and strategy shifts.

The new CIO of CalPERS will face a set of formidable challenges. The pension fund’s unique exposure to California-based commercial real estate in the face of the unfolding bear market will be a significant challenge for the new CIO. Moreover, the new CIO will also need to navigate the increasing complexities of the global investment landscape, including the rise of ESG investing and the ongoing debate over the role of private equity in pension fund portfolios.

Despite these challenges, the position of CIO at CalPERS also represents a unique opportunity. It’s a chance to influence the direction of one of the world’s largest institutional investors and, by extension, the broader investment community. Moreover, given CalPERS’ public nature, the role also offers the chance to make a meaningful impact on the financial well-being of millions of public employees and retirees.

The search for a new CIO at CalPERS marks a significant moment for the institution and the investment community at large. As the process unfolds, all eyes will be on who will take the helm and how they will guide this crucial institution in the coming years.

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