Add Maryland and Massachusetts to the list of states posting double-digit growth in pension funds for fiscal 2013.
The Maryland state employees’ pension system – which provides benefits for 132,000 retired state employees, teachers and law enforcement officers – reported annual gains of $40 billion for the fiscal year ended June 30. That’s a gain of about 10.6 percent vs. expectations of a 7.75 percent increase.
The Maryland Public Policy Institute recently targeted pension fund officials for paying excessive fees to money managers and for taking too risky an approach to investments. The institute compared investments to more passive index funds such as the Standard & Poor’s 500. Often these passive funds offer lower fees than funds with active management.
Pension officials countered that their 2013 results outperformed passive funds by at least 2 percent, or $800 million.
In the meantime, the Massachusetts state pension fund reported a 12.7 percent gain for the year ended June 30, vs. a 0.1 percent loss the previous year.
Assets hit a record high for the Massachusetts pension fund, totaling $53.2 billion. That figure has slowly recovered since dropping to $39 billion during the financial crisis of 2008.
Managers attributed the growth to domestic equities posting a 22.1 percent return, and direct investment in hedge funds, which gained 12.2 percent. Bonds, however, were a plan weakness, dropping 0.3 percent.
The plan for 2014 includes an aggressive agenda to cut $100 million in fees and expenses annually, explained Michael Trotsky, the fund’s executive director. Trotsky said managers are searching for alternatives to low-volatility hedge funds and reducing fees paid to investment managers.