Outgoing PERF director calls for education

Public workers need to start planning for retirement earlier, and the Public Employees Retirement Fund should undertake the task of educating them, said Executive Director David Adams, who announced today he will return to the private sector June 1.

PERF should offer retirement guidance to workers while they are younger and better able to prepare, Adams said. The pension fund now focuses on helping workers with the transition as they near the ends of their careers.

However, those suggestions are minor compared to the changes that have taken place since Adams took the post in March 2005.

The fund has allocated $105 million to private equity investments in Indiana companies as well as companies wanting to invest in Indiana or move to the state. PERF also has earmarked $100 million for small equities managers who might be overlooked by large funds.

The alternative investments are part of a strategy of boosting the overall annual rate of return to 8.1 percent.

The fund is transitioning toward earmarking 15 percent of its assets instead of 5 percent for alternative investments. Also, the proportion of fixed-income investments is expected to shrink to 20 percent from 30 percent. Equity investments will remain at 65 percent of the portfolio.

Assets have grown to $16.5 billion from $12.4 billion during his tenure due to diversifying into equity markets and emphasizing rate of return, Adams said.

Retirees are getting their money quicker now, Adams said. When he arrived, only 5 percent of retirees began receiving benefit payments immediately upon leaving their jobs; some retirees experienced a six-month lag. As of December, all retirees were receiving benefits without disruption, he said.

Also, 2006 was the first year since 2002 that PERF received an unqualified audit by the State Board of Accounts.

“Dave has done so much to restore customer service confidence in PERF and establish long-needed internal controls,” Gov. Mitch Daniels said in a statement. “We’re grateful for the two years of public service he has given the state.”

Adams said he doesn’t know what he wants to do after he steps down. Prior to joining PERF, he was managing director of Estate Ventures, an Indianapolis investment fund.

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