Heidrick & Struggles Heading Chief Actuary Search for CalPERS

July 28, 2016 – Heidrick & Struggles has been selected by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) to lead its search for a new chief actuary.

The incoming executive will direct the development and implementation of actuarial policies and procedures, and advise the board of administration and its committees on actuarial issues.

The actuarial office at CalPERS prepares separate actuarial valuations for the state, school employers, and each contracting public agency every year. The valuations are based on adopted benefits, actuarial methods and assumptions set by the board.

The incumbent executive will provide briefings and independent, expert consultation and advice to executive management, the finance & administration committee, and the board. As a member of the executive staff, the selected candidate will participate in the development, implementation, and review of CalPERS’ strategic plans.


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Most importantly, in addition to being a technical expert, the incoming leader will need to be an inspirational leader to the broader actuarial community. The chief actuary here will manage a staff of 55 and will be actively involved in mentoring, coaching, and developing the organization’s team in a manner that promotes best practices and efficiency in technical responsibilities, as well as working together as a cohesive, collaborative, results-oriented, and high performing unit.

The CalPERS top actuary post will have the additional following duties:

  • Provide independent advice and counsel to executive management, the board, and its committees on actuarial issues;
  • Provide reports to executive management, the board, and its committees on actuarial investigations and valuations, rate structure, health benefits, and reserve funds;
  • Propose, for board adoption, actuarial assumptions, methods, and policies;
  • Recommend, for board adoption, contribution rates for various plans including those for state and school employees as well as judges and legislators;
  • Establish the liability and contribution requirement of the state, schools, and contracting public agencies and recommends the adjustment of reserves;
  • Work in collaboration with the investment office and the chief financial officer to provide a comprehensive asset liability management approach to ensure that risks to the funding of the system are appropriately managed; this approach will significantly impact the asset allocation process;
  • Support the chief financial officer with respect to the actuarial aspects of financial reporting;
  • Recommend changes in laws and regulations that impact the funding of the system;
  • Direct actuarial studies for determination of the cost of proposed legislation. Confers with public agency and state officials on actuarial matters and appears before elected boards and legislative committees;
  • Serve as the executive sponsor of the project to replace the existing actuarial valuation computer system, and assists in the implementation.

For more than eight decades, CalPERS has built retirement and health security for state, school, and public agency members who invest their lifework in public service. Its pension fund serves more than 1.7 million members in the CalPERS retirement system and administers benefits for nearly 1.4 million members and their families in its health program, making it the largest defined-benefit public pension in the U.S.

Earlier this year, Heidrick was also selected by CalPERS to lead its search for a new chief executive officer. Renee Neri, a partner in Heidrick’s New York office and a member of the firm’s asset management & wealth management practices, is spearheading that search.

Heidrick & Struggles’ asset management search team serves the asset, wealth management and hedge fund sectors. It provides talent acquisition and retention strategies across key positions in leadership, product and portfolio management, distribution and infrastructure. Chad Astmann serves as the firm’s practice leader.

Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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