CalPERS’ quest to pay lower money-management fees

Tracey Samuelson Jun 8, 2015
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CalPERS’ quest to pay lower money-management fees

Tracey Samuelson Jun 8, 2015
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The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the nation’s largest public pension fund, is expected to announce Monday that it’s taking a big red marker to the list of firms managing its money, cutting their number by roughly half.

At the heart of this is an attempt to lower the amount of money the pension giant pays to companies that manage its billions, says Kent Smetters, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Smetters expects other pension funds to follow CalPERS’ lead.

CalPERS also recently announced it is getting out of hedge funds for a similar reason.

Why this focus on lowering expenses?

“They’re only about 77 percent funded,” says Robert Pozen, who teaches at Harvard Business School. “Unfortunately, like most of these funds, they don’t have enough money now to invest to pay all these benefits over time.”

Pozen says by investing more money with fewer firms, CalPERS will have more clout to negotiate lower fees. Cutting those costs now means more money for pensioners in the future. 

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