Talk About Being Bass Ackwards!

New Jersey slashes hedge fund portfolio in asset class overhaul
The New Jersey State Investment Council on Wednesday unanimously approved an overhaul of its hedge fund portfolio for the New Jersey Pension Fund including cutting the target allocation in half, reducing the number of hedge funds and cutting fees significantly. (P&I Daily)

I don’t know who first had the “brilliant” idea to allocate so much of NJ’s DB pension portfolio to alternatives following the GFC when cheap beta was so severely discounted, but to now slash the allocation when equity and fixed income valuations are stretching their limits is ridiculous!

First, DB plans have a relative objective (plan liabilities) and not an absolute objective, despite the fact that plans think they need to achieve the ROA.  These aren’t endowments or foundations with positive spending policies. Liabilities are missing in action when it comes to investment structure and asset allocation decisions, and it is leading to the injection of too much risk into their funds.

We are huge proponents of DB plans being the retirement vehicle of choice, but they need to be managed responsibly.  First, identify the primary objective (liabilities) and manage to that objective.  Second, STOP buying high and selling low. Furthermore, I think that the fees associated with hedge funds are outrageous and in most cases, unwarranted, but the NJ plan already has the exposure. Don’t sell it now, as you just might need some uncorrelated assets in the coming months.

 

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