PSPRS staff among top pension investors

November 29, 2018

Contact: Christian Palmer
Phone: 602-296-3736

PSPRS staff among top pension investors
Notable industry publication cites honorees' creativity, contribution to long-term growth

ARIZONA – Trusted Insight magazine has named two PSPRS portfolio managers among the nation’s Top 30 Public Pension Institutional Investors, an honor awarded to those identified as “front-runners” in creating innovative long-term investment strategies for public employers.

Private equity portfolio manager Shan Chen and private credit and public equities portfolio manager Bill Thatcher earned the award for “high-caliber and accomplished individuals” who operate in an era of lower investment returns and a “raging war for talent” among public pension plans.

“The PSPRS system as a whole faces financial challenges that will take not only time but knowledge and skill to overcome,” said Trustee Don Smith, chair of the PSPRS Investment Committee and former chief executive officer of CopperPoint Mutual Insurance. “This award tells me that we have the right team to steer PSPRS-managed plans back to financial health and stability.”

Currently, Chen, a native of Beijing, China, oversees more than $1.3 billion in roughly 70 private equity investment funds with projects all over the world. He’s credited with helping diversify PSPRS investments and delivering private equity returns exceeding those of the 10-year-old bull market. PSPRS private equity also outperforms benchmarks set by the Institutional Limited Partners Association, a trade group of 450 public investment entities that invest in private equity opportunities.

Thatcher, a former investor for high net worth individuals and philanthropic endowments, helps manage more than $3.5 billion in domestic and international public equities and private credit investments. He is also a regarded researcher of passive index and actively managed investment strategies. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the Journal of Index Investing.

“It’s hard to attract great institutional investors and PSPRS has done a great job at that,” the Trusted Insight team said. “There are hundreds of candidates for this short list of highly-skilled investors and having not just one but two winners from one pension plan speaks volumes about the team at PSPRS.”

Today, PSPRS holds what is likely the most diversified public pension portfolio in the nation. The portfolio is designed to maximize returns to the greatest extent possible while minimizing the probability of suffering losses. 

During the 2018 fiscal year, PSPRS generated a 7.1 percent investment return, earning $660 million for a portfolio that now exceeds $10 billion in assets. Over the past five years, PSPRS assets have increased by $3 billion while PSPRS-managed plans distribute approximately $1 billion of benefits each year. 

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