Illinois SURS names new CIO

Douglas Wesley had been deputy CIO at the pension for 10 years. 

The Illinois State Universities Retirement System board of trustees has hired its interim chief investment officer to fill the role permanently, the pension fund said on Friday.    

Douglas Wesley assumed the role after serving as the acting CIO since last August, when his predecessor, Dan Allen, retired, according to a statement. Wesley has been with the Prairie State pension plan for 19 years, and he was deputy CIO for 10 years prior to being named interim CIO.

He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a master’s degree in accounting and is a chartered financial analyst, the statement read. Prior to attending UIUC, Wesley served for six years in the United States Navy nuclear operations field as an electrician.

Wesley assumes the role with plans to shift ISURS’ priorities away from implementing its current allocation targets to a portfolio review process this year, according to a letter Wesley wrote to the board in December.

Since June 2014, the fund had prioritised the diversification of its portfolio by reducing its US equity allocations while adding emerging market debt, commodities, and hedge fund strategies.

In 2017 the fund will focus instead on a “thorough review and assessment of the structure in each asset class, with an objective of increasing the portfolio’s efficiency where possible”, Wesley stated.

Wesley did not respond to a request to comment further.

The fund finished the fiscal year 2016 ended 30 June with emerging market debt representing 3.9 percent of its portfolio, higher than its 2014 target allocation for that asset class of 3 percent, the annual report shows. The ISURS emerging market debt portfolio has exposure in corporate and government debt.

At year end, 66 percent of the fund’s portfolio was invested in equities, 28 percent in fixed income and 6 percent in direct real estate funds, as compared with the 2014 target allocations of 68 percent, 26 percent and 6 percent, respectively, the annual report shows.

The latest investment report states the pension had a total of $17.5 billion in assets as of 28 February. This total includes a $60 million commitment to the Angelo Gordon GECC Public-Private Investment Fund, PDI data shows.

ISURS was created by the state governor and general assembly in 1941 to provide retirement services and benefits to state educational and scientific agencies.