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Educating Public Pension Fiduciaries

Educating Public Pension Fiduciaries

Pensions and investments expert, Von Hughes provides a valuable reference for anyone interested in the growing impact of U.S. pension funds in global financial markets.

U.S. Public Pension Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for Trustees and Investment Staff fills a basic, unsatisfied need in the U.S. public pension market – the largest in the world. I have spent more than two decades working with institutional investors providing strategic guidance and advice on investment management and governance. As an advisor to public pension trustees and investment staffs for much of my career, it became blatantly clear that there is a scarcity of readily-accessible, publicly-available, information on U.S. public pensions in the marketplace. Tracking down important and relevant public pension information simply took too much effort and involved gathering and compiling data from across numerous, “hard-to-find” sources. The U.S. Public Pension Handbook provides pension fiduciaries a “one-stop” source on public pension topics relevant and necessary to their jobs. The book centralizes information from over 300 sources to explain, in simple language, public pension topics including: history, marketplace, plan design, actuarial valuation, investment policy, asset allocation, investment performance, contribution policy, governance structures, governance research, fiduciary responsibility, and staff infrastructures. 

The U.S. Public Pension Handbook was designed to be a “must have” text for new public pension trustees in the U.S. With more than 50,000 public pension trustees in this country, turning over as frequently as every two years, there is a constant need for a pension resource guide. Since most public pension trustees are elected by their beneficiary-constituents, and themselves come from the esteemed ranks of policemen, firemen, educators, and other general state and local employees, many do not have either the public pension governance or portfolio management experience to do their job as effectively as they could, when they start. Consequently, the learning curve for new trustees can be very steep. And yet from “day one” these trustees are required to make pension decisions with lasting ramifications. The U.S. Public Pension Handbook is essential reading for that first day, providing the breath and scope of information that all public pension trustees should know in an accessible handbook format, written in easy-to-understand language.

For the more experienced public pension fiduciaries and professionals, U.S. Public Pension Handbook provides a wealth of information across a variety of topics that could only add (or fill in gaps) to their knowledge and effectiveness. Referencing the best available research sources covering a full spectrum of public pension topics, the book will provide any experienced pension fiduciary with current data and information to embark on an even more detailed and rigorous investigation into most public pension topics. In addition, I’ve included original theory and research on public pension trustee racial and gender diversity and public pension evolution in the 21st century.

And for public policy makers, the U.S. Public Pension Handbook is the only comprehensive summary of the U.S. public pension marketplace, touching issues across the U.S. with very real political implications. I also provide an overview of how these plans are managed and operated, and the issues they face today and will face tomorrow for the larger population of professionals, Wall Street types, and those simply interested in finding out how public pensions work. 

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Educating Public Pension Fiduciaries

Von M. Hughes is the author of U.S. Public Pension Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for Trustees and Investment Staff (McGraw-Hill 2019). He is also a Partner and Managing Director of PAAMCO Prisma, a $30+ billion global asset management firm where he has been since joining in 2003. Von serves on the PAAMCO Prisma Executive Committee and manages both the firm’s global Strategic Advisory and Client Acquisition efforts. Von specializes in, and is a frequent speaker on, public pension plan governance -- advising public pension trustees and their investment staffs on governance, investment program structure, and internal resource management. He began his career at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in New York as an Associate in the Mergers & Acquisitions Group and then as a Vice President in the Equity Capital Markets Group. Von is a trustee of the Greenwich Roundtable, a non-profit research and educational organization for investors allocating to alternative investments. Von is a trustee of the National Association of Investment Companies, a Washington, DC-based trade association that serves as the largest network of diverse-owned and emerging private equity firms and hedge funds. He is also a Trustee of Northside Center for Child Development, a Harlem-based non-profit organization that provides early childhood development services in the NYC area. He received his JD from Harvard Law School, where he was selected as an editor of the Harvard Law Review, his MPP from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and he holds a BA in Philosophy (cum laude) from Yale University. He currently lives in Stamford, CT with his wife and three children.