Pension Matters

State Employees Retirement Fund
Most Recent Market Value | Michigan Treasury Bureau of Investments

October 2019

Pension Report
State of Michigan Retirement System Notes from Board Meeting June 6, 2019


“March 2019 Performance Great peer comparison. MPSERS Plan (03/31/19) 1-Year 3-Years 5-Years 7-Years 10-Years Annualized Returns 6.1% 10.3% 8.3% 9.6% 11.0% Policy Returns 4.2% 9.4% 7.8% 9.4% 11.6% Peer Median Returns* 4.3% 8.9% 6.7% 8.0% 10.0% *State Street Universe greater than $10 billion.

  • Over the past one, three, five, seven, and ten years, the returns are much higher than peer median returns. Compared to the State Street Universe of public pension plans greater than $10 billion, the returns are mostly within the top decile of returns. Also, the plans’ returns were among the least risky, as measured by standard deviation.
  • The ten-year return begins at the cyclical low of the global financial crisis and because risk assets were trading at depressed prices, the trailing 10-year returns are above average. Over a very long horizon, since 1979, the annualized rate of return on the plan assets has been approximately 9.4%.
  • Compounding at higher than peer returns can add significant value. For example, based on the $40.9 billion March 2009 market value, a ten-year annualized return of 11.0% compared to the 10.0% peer median return would add about $10.1 billion in excess value.
  • The returns beat the policy benchmark over the past year by 1.9%. Most of the asset class results were higher than their performance benchmarks; selectivity in private equity was a big driver of excess return. A slightly defensive allocation offset some of the positive selectivity.
  • For the year ending March 2019, returns exceeded the peer median return by 1.8%, earning the second highest return in the peer universe. Most of the individual asset class returns were better than median over this time-period, and fixed income, domestic equity and private equity returns were in the top quartile of returns for their respective asset classes.

Find the full report on Department of Treasury website

Ten Things Retirees Should Not Keep in Their Wallet

According to consumer protection experts, the things you should immediately remove from your wallet are your Social Security Card, computer passwords, spare keys, blank checks, passport, multiple credit cards, birth certificate, receipts, Medicare card, and gift cards. Also, photocopy the front and back of whatever remains in your wallet. That way, if your wallet is lost or stolen, you can at least quickly and easily file reports with the appropriate government agencies and financial institutions. (Kiplinger Magazine)

Michigan Pensions Well Funded

“Taxpayer contributions to Michigan’s public pension funds in 2017 amounted to 78.5 percent of the total, the 13th highest ratio among the 50 states, according to newly released data by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The total contributions for the state’s public pension plans amounted to $5.6 billion. Employee contributions stood at only $1.2 billion, while state contributions amounted to $3.2 billion and the local share was $1.2 billion.

The Census Bureau’s survey of the public pension plans includes revenues, assets and membership data. The survey indicated there were 299 pension funds administered by state governments and 5,977 funds managed by local governments.” See US Census Bureau data at

Chief Risk Officers (CRO)

“A growing number of pension funds are looking to fill positions for persons focused on the investment risks, aka “risk officers.” Connecticut Treasurer Shawn Wooden states, “Having a chief risk officer that is not a portfolio manager creates some distance and some independence. I think that’s better governance, better monitoring and better accountability.” A growing number of major public pension funds have appointed chief risk officers since last decade’s financial crisis. While the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest U.S. pension, appointed a CRO in 2010, New York State’s $210 billion pension, the third-largest in the U.S., didn’t do so until 2017. Some of the biggest U.S. public pensions, including Virginia’s, Michigan’s and Georgia’s teachers’ fund, don’t have a chief risk officer. Read more at

Equifax Settlement

The Michigan Department of Attorney General has announced that a settlement with Equifax that was to bring $4,639,247.70 into Michigan’s general fund was received by the Department of Treasury. Consumers will be able to obtain information about the settlement, check their eligibility to file a claim, and file a claim on the Equifax Settlement Breach online registry at Read the full memorandum on the Attorney General’s web site.

News Tidbits

*Public pensions are abandoning the 8% rate of return. (Pensions and Investments)

*The funded ratio of state and local pensions inched up to 72.8% in 2018 from 72.1% in 2017 (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)

Prescription Drug Rebates

While we hear a lot about these prescription drug rebates, it’s not easy to see how they fit with retirees and our needs. Kaiser Family Foundation has a new video out that might help. The video explains who benefits, and how they affect consumers. Check it out at Click on prescription drugs in the top right corner of the page.

Editor’s note: June Morse may be contacted at or 517-886-9323.

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