How have you been a change agent at
your organization? What have you done
that you’re particularly proud of?
Any pension fund has two investment-related functions: pay current benefits and
provide long-term growth relative to some
risk constraint. At CCCERA, we have
been able to shift the conversation to a
focus around how the investments align
with these functions, and measure each
investment accordingly. The portfolio is
still being restructured, but when it is completed, I hope every stakeholder will be better able to understand in straightforward
terms what we do and why we do it.
What is the asset class or investment
that keeps you up at night, and why?
We take a long-term view based upon the
valuations of our diversified portfolio of
investments. That view lets us maintain
perspective around market movements and
sleep well at night.
What methodologies have you adopted
within your institution?
It is the simple but not so easy thing: Starting with a philosophy and building a process
around it to put it into practice.
Where do you fall in the passive vs.
Every strategy requires an active decision.
The only question is whether a rules-based
model that tracks the price behavior of secu-
rities at extremely low implementation costs
accomplishes the organization’s investment
goals. That is why at CCCERA, we have
implemented a broad-based functional port-
folio construction process that incorporates
many asset classes and management styles.
What are the changes you’d like to see
the institutional investing community
make in 10 years?
Fewer product pitches, more alignment of
interests around investor goals.
Who is a manager you don’t currently
work with whose brain you’d like to pick?
I’m going to expand the question a bit, and
go for a figure from the past. I’ve always had
great respect for John Maynard Keynes as an
economist and author, but what he accomplished with the endowment of King’s College at Cambridge was even more impressive
for me. He had clear goals and pursued them
in a contrarian, but not dogmatic, manner.
I’m also a stickler for humility and he was
unafraid to admit when he had made an
error in judgment and restructure the portfolio accordingly.
Ideally, where would that meeting take
What is the software investment tool
that helps you most?
Data aggregation has been key for us to be
Chief Investment Officer, Contra Costa County
Employees’ Retirement Association (Concord, CA)
Tim designed a new plan investment construct,
gained approval from his board, evolved governance
and is now methodically implementing a restructuring
of the plan’s investment portfolio with a small team
of two investment professionals.
better informed and make more structured
What would improve the relationship
between you and managers?
I think we have great relationships with our
managers but the best ones challenge us to
think about how the trends in their portfolios
might play out across the rest of our fund.
Why did you choose your current path?
I find the process of aligning investments
with liabilities to be endlessly fascinating.
Add to that the fact that I can support the
board as stewards of our retirement system’s capital and it becomes an extremely