Indiana pension fund officer takes N.C. post

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The chief investment officer for Indiana's public employee pension fund is taking a similar job in North Carolina.

North Carolina state Treasurer Janet Cowell announced Monday that Shawn Wischmeier has been hired as chief investment officer of North Carolina's retirement systems. He succeeds Patricia Gerrick, who was fired in August after five years on the job.

Wischmeier will make a base salary of $320,000. The post is one of the highest paid in state government. He previously worked for Eli Lilly and Co. before going to work on Indiana's state pension fund.

North Carolina's $68 billion retirement plan covers more than 820,000 people.

Cowell wouldn't disclose why she fired Gerrick, who used to work at Indiana's pension fund, too.

With $14.2 billion in assets as of Nov. 30, the Indiana Public Employees Retirement Fund is Indiana’s biggest pension fund, responsible for paying benefits to 220,000 police, firefighters and government employees.

State lawmakers voted this year to require the boards of PERF and the Indiana State Teachers Retirement Fund to appoint a single director for both funds. TRF, with $8.1 billion in assets, handles benefits for 160,000 Hoosier educators.

The recession’s initial economic downturn hit both Hoosier pensions hard, but in the last year, they’ve each enjoyed strong recoveries. At their October 2007 peaks, PERF held $16.7 billion in assets, while TRF held $9.4 billion. Through January 2009, they suffered combined losses of $8 billion before rallying along with markets last year.


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