Largest U.S. pension fund may slash exposure to stocks

Calpers may double its bond allocation to reduce risk and volatility as the bull market approaches nine years

Nov 13, 2017 @ 1:50 pm

By Bloomberg News

The California Public Employees' Retirement System, the largest U.S. pension fund, is considering more than doubling its bond allocation to reduce risk and volatility as the stock bull market approaches nine years.

Calpers is looking at a menu of options for its fixed-income target ranging from the current 19 percent to as much as 44 percent, according to a presentation for a board workshop in Sacramento coming up Monday. Equities could be cut to as little as 34 percent from 50 percent. Stocks were the best-performing asset class in fiscal 2017, returning almost 20 percent.

"The markets have had a pretty good run and it's possible Calpers staff is thinking this might be a good time to lock in some of the gains," Keith Brainard, research director for the National Association of State Retirement Administrators, said in a phone interview.

Calpers oversaw $343.6 billion in assets as of Nov. 8, up about 13 percent this calendar year on a combination of returns and contributions from employees and taxpayers. The fund lost money in past bear markets, including about 25 percent in the 12 months through June 2009 and 7 percent in fiscal 2001.

Bond yields remain at low levels because of persistent weak inflation, central bank easy money policies and global investors chasing income. Raising the allocation would reduce the fund's discount rate, or average expected return, to 6.5 percent from the 7 percent annual target adopted last year. A lower target would probably require bigger contributions from taxpayers and public agencies to cover pension obligations, a shift that board member JJ Jelincic said he would oppose.

"We've cut the return expectation to the point that employers are screaming, 'We can't afford it. We can't afford it,' " Jelincic said. "I personally would be willing to take on a little more risk."

The average allocation for public pensions is about 23 percent to fixed income and 49 percent to stocks, according to Nasra data.

The Calpers board is scheduled to vote on the allocation in December. Almost all of the fixed-income and stock holdings are managed in-house while more complex assets, such as private equity and real estate, are overseen by outside consultants. Allocations to private equity and real assets would stay at 8 percent and 13 percent, respectively, under all scenarios under consideration.

The allocation revisions occur every four years. Calpers is working to provide for a growing wave of longer-living retirees.

0
Comments

What do you think?

View comments

Recommended for you

RIA Data Center

Use InvestmentNews' RIA Data Center to filter and find key information on over 1,400 fee-only registered investment advisory firms.

Rank RIAs by

Featured video

Events

2019 concerns keeping successful advisory firm leaders up at night

These are the greatest business challenges for next year, according to InvestmentNews' Best Practices honorees.

Latest news & opinion

10 ETFs that are up more than 35% this year

Amid the stock market carnage, there are still some funds posting big gains.

10 biggest HSA providers rated

Morningstar rated the largest plan providers as investment and spending vehicles.

Morningstar: DOL fiduciary rule reduces inflows to mutual funds with high loads

With the measure's demise, will the SEC's advice reform sustain the momentum?

6 tax strategies for year-end planning

How to help clients maximize their wealth using specific tax strategies before the end of the year.

Ohio National offers buyouts, ends commission trails amid jumbled regulatory oversight of VAs

Jurisdiction is shared between the SEC, Finra and state insurance commissioners. Will any of them step in?

X

Hi! Glad you're here and we hope you like all the great work we do here at InvestmentNews. But what we do is expensive and is funded in part by our sponsors. So won't you show our sponsors a little love by whitelisting investmentnews.com? It'll help us continue to serve you.

Yes, show me how to whitelist investmentnews.com

Ad blocker detected. Please whitelist us or give premium a try.

X

Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print