Chief investment officer earns consecutive honors

October 26, 2017

Contact: Christian Palmer
Phone: 602-296-3736

Chief investment officer earns consecutive honors
Accolades continue for CIO Ryan Parham and investment team

ARIZONA – Today, coming off a fiscal year in which PSPRS investments generated more than $1 billion for the trust, the system’s transformation continues to gain momentum – and our nationally recognized investment team continues to garner industry honors for that investment success on behalf of the state’s police officers, fire fighters and taxpayers.

We're proud to announce that Ryan Parham, chief investment officer for PSPRS, has been named among the “Top 30 Public Pension Chief Investment Officers” in the nation for the second consecutive year by Trusted Insight, an investment industry publication.

The award honors pension fund managers whose plans outperform peers and have emerged as "front-runners in the public pension world by three and five-year measures."

PSPRS investments generated $1 billion in fiscal year 2017, marking a 11.85 percent net of fee return while operating with less risk than the vast majority of peer pension funds.

Parham joined the PSPRS team in 2004 and he is credited with transitioning the trust into what is likely the most diversified public pension portfolio in the nation. The low risk strategy seeks to maximize returns while minimizing investment risk.

Investment performance over the last five years has exceeded the 7.4 percent assumed earnings rate set by the Board of Trustees. The PSPRS investment team led by Parham has also generated returns that exceed internal benchmarks set for the 1, 3, 5 and 10-year periods.

“PSPRS still has a long way to go but we are proud of the returns we have been able to generate despite the fact that our investments have less than half the risk of a typical consumer 401(k) plan,” said Parham, who was also one of Institutional Investor Magazine’s 2016 “CIO of the Year” finalists. “The performance speaks volumes about the talent of the professionals on our investment team.”

Trusted Insight named Parham among its top 30 public pension CIOs in both 2017 and 2016.

Those honored by Trusted Insight manage portfolios that outperformed peers and emerged as “front-runners in the public pension world by three-year and five-year measures.” PSPRS investment performance over the last five years has exceeded the 7.4 percent assumed earnings rate set by the Board of Trustees as well as internal benchmarks.

The PSPRS trust combined with the Corrections Officers Retirement Plan (CORP) and the Elected Officials Retirement Plan (EORP) is valued at roughly $9.5 billion and manages the retirement benefits to approximately 50,000 retired and active members.

Did you know?

PSPRS investments are diversified through "alternative assets," which are actually mainstream investments that serve as an alternative to the volatile stock market. These investments typically include emerging technologies, consumer goods, retail businesses, real estate holdings, energy markets and even agriculture.

The $9.5 billion PSPRS portfolio is well-diversified and invested in alternative assets, which help spread investment risk to acceptable levels and also produce high returns. PSPRS has assembled an elite alternative portfolio, particularly in private credit and private equity, which has produced a 15 percent return over the last five years.

PSPRS is also outperforming the vast majority of more than 100 private retail mutual funds that operate with a similar risk-averse portfolio strategy.

The PSPRS strategy and performance has gained the attention of peer pensions that are now re-evaluating their risk levels, as well as financial media.

PSPRS has won or been nominated for following honors over the last two years:
  • "Public Pension Standards Award for Funding and Administration" award - Public Pension Coordinating Council (September 2017)
  • "Allocator of the Year" award - Institutional Investor Magazine (May 2017)
  • "Top 30 Public Pension Chief Investment Officers" award winner Ryan Parham - Trusted Insight (November 2016 and 2017)
  • "Small Public Pension Plan of the Year" nominee - Institutional Investor Magazine (June 2016)
  • "CIO of the Year" finalist Ryan Parham - Institutional Investor Magazine (2016)
  • "Arizona Corporate Counsel Award" nominee Jennifer Eichholz - Arizona Business Magazine (2016)

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