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PSPRS investment chief Ryan Parham retires after 14 years


Public Safety Personnel Retirement System
State of Arizona
July 1, 2018


PSPRS investment chief Ryan Parham retires after 14 years
Deputy CIO Mark Steed named interim investment leader during CIO search

ARIZONA – Ryan Parham, whose investment expertise and leadership transformed the Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System into one of the most diversified public pension systems in the United States, announced he will step down as PSPRS Chief Investment Officer effective July 1, 2018.

Parham, who joined PSPRS in 2004, led a team whose investment selections generated more than $1 billion for the system and its 59,000 members last year. Those results led to Parham being named among the Top 30 Public Pension Chief Investment Officers in the nation for 2017 by Trusted Insight, a leading financial sector publication.

PSPRS under his leadership was also named Allocator of the Year in 2017 by Institutional Investor magazine for its diversified approach through alternative investments to reduce investment risk and generate long-term investment performance. The same publication also nominated Parham as Chief Investment Officer of the Year for public pension plans in 2015.

Brian Tobin, chairman of the PSPRS Board of Trustees, thanked Parham for his 14 years of service and expressed confidence in the system’s future.

“Ryan Parham’s accolades and results in a fiercely difficult marketplace tell a clear story: He has been one of the best in the business for more than a decade,” said Tobin. “Even with Ryan gone, the new path he’s helped set and the changes in law that needed to occur have the system well-positioned moving forward. PSPRS has positive momentum. And we’ve never been more committed to serving our members and our fellow taxpayers. Ryan and his team worked exceedingly hard for years to help make that the truth.”

The current PSPRS investment portfolio assumes less than half the risk of an average consumer 401(k) plan. Despite this conservative approach, the system’s investment performance has exceeded the 7.4 percent assumed earnings rate set by the PSPRS Board of Trustees over the past five years. The system has also exceeded PSPRS internal benchmarks for the 1, 3, 5 and 10-year periods.

“Ryan has been instrumental in returning PSPRS to financial health and sustainability,” said Jared Smout, the system’s administrator. “After the unprecedented back-to-back crashes of last decade, today PSPRS has in place a new investment strategy – one Ryan helped design and implement – that allows the system to maximize investment returns while minimizing the risk to our members and to the state of Arizona.”

The search for a successor will be national in scope, said Smout, while being handled internally by the PSPRS Human Resources and leadership teams. Final Board of Trustee interviews for a new CIO are likely to take place in fall 2018, with a new CIO named by year’s end.

In the interim, Deputy CIO and Chief of Staff Mark Steed will step into the role of CIO. Steed has managed PSPRS investments since 2007, including senior responsibility for a variety of asset classes. He holds an M.S. degree in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University and earned his MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. In 2013, Steed was named one of the “Rising Stars of Public Funds” by Money Market Intelligence.