Analysis: After coming under assault from two county supervisors, the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association — the agency managing the $7.2 billion fund that pays retired county workers’ pensions — fired back.
In an unsigned statement on its website, the agency attacked what it called myths about its push to overhaul its investment staff. The pension fund has been working to eliminate salary limits for its investment employees, a step CEO Brian White says will allow it to recruit better talent.
Earlier this summer, White sought permission from the county’s top administrator to waive those salary limits. In doing so, White offered a list of 30 positions with the salaries the agency wanted to pay each. They topped out at $886,000 including bonuses — White included the agency’s top investment consultant. Four jobs would’ve paid $450,000 in salary and bonuses, more than any county employee makes today.
Though White now calls his request preliminary, the statement on the agency’s website plays down how much those jobs would pay. It correctly notes the average salary (excluding the consultant) was $173,000 annually.
But the statement makes no note of the proposed performance bonuses (some as high as $150,000) that those employees could earn. That’s crucial context missing. Those bonuses bump up the average annual salary to $256,000 — not $173,000.
White said he hadn’t included mention of the bonuses because they wouldn’t be guaranteed, only awarded if the fund’s investments outperformed certain benchmarks. Those specifics haven’t been worked out yet, he said, another reason he didn’t reference them.
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