Calpers Considers Pay Raises for Top Executives in Delicate Move

Back Bloomberg Jun 14, 2017 By Alicia Ritcey and Jenn Zhao

Top-paid executives and investment managers of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System may get as much as a 5 percent bump in their base salaries this year under a proposal to be considered by the largest U.S. pension fund.

The committee in charge of compensation will meet June 20 at CalPERS’ headquarters in Sacramento, to approve bonus plans for CEO Marcie Frost and CIO Ted Eliopoulos. It will also consider raising salary ranges for certain job classifications in a move that could benefit more than a dozen of its other executives and money managers.

CalPERS, which has criticized pay practices at some of the companies in which it invests, acknowledged that the proposed raises could trigger negative public perception, according to documents released before the meeting. That concern had to be balanced with findings that the current pay structure was creating “potential difficulty in the hiring and retention of qualified candidates for key positions,” the pension says.

The proposed increases could significantly affect General Counsel Matthew Jacobs and Chief Operating Investment Officer Wylie Tollette because they are currently paid at the maximum the fund’s policy allows. With salaries of $338,100 and $378,000, respectively, they won’t be eligible for raises this year unless the committee approves the higher ranges. Two other investment officers, whose names weren’t disclosed, are also at their maximum payouts.

The challenge for the compensation committee is to set pay “high enough to encourage individuals to accept and remain in positions, but not so high as to attract candidates solely for the compensation,” according to the pension’s compensation policies and procedures. The system’s investments totaled $323.4 billion as of June 12.

CEO Frost gets a $300,000 base salary, which is less than the $352,800 at the top end for her post. The annual incentive plans for Frost and Eliopoulos are subject to business objectives such as fund returns, stakeholder engagement and leadership performance.