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Public School Employees' Retirement System
HARRISBURG – Ben Cotton, Chief Investment Officer at the Pennsylvania Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS), is a finalist for a national award honoring outstanding pension fund management.
The 2023 Industry Innovation Awards recognize chief investment officers, managers, consultants and firms for their prowess leading institutional funds or strategies. The annual awards are sponsored by Chief Investment Officer (CIO) Magazine, a trade publication covering public and corporate pension plans, endowments, foundations, healthcare capital pools, and sovereign wealth funds.
"For the 13th consecutive year, Chief Investment Officer is celebrating institutional asset owners who have thrived and been incredible leaders, even as markets have turned rough and inflation and rates have risen," the magazine said in announcing finalists in 23 categories. "The purpose of the awards is to recognize CIOs working innovatively to improve their investment results and create and manage teams that pursue excellence."
The magazine accepted nominations from the chief investment officers' peers, staff, service providers, acquaintances or from the magazine's staff. Finalists were selected by the magazine's editorial staff.
Mr. Cotton is one of four finalists in the category covering Public Defined Benefit Funds with assets of more than $20 billion. PSERS' net assets totaled $71.9 billion as of the March 31, 2023, quarter close.
Mr. Cotton, a U.S. Marine veteran who holds a doctorate in education, has been PSERS Chief Investment Officer since January 2023. Prior to his public service, Mr. Cotton worked for more than two decades in corporate leadership, investment and internal control roles for Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers Retiree Medical Benefits Trust.
As PSERS Chief Investment Officer, Mr. Cotton oversees the daily operations of PSERS' investment program, which funds most of the retirement benefits for roughly 500,000 active and retired school employees in Pennsylvania. Mr. Cotton's office is comprised of 65 employees, including operations and risk management professionals, as well as front-line investment professionals who manage portfolios or work with outside consultants in traditional and non-traditional assets classes.
"I am very appreciative of this nomination and recognition," Mr. Cotton said. "But this honor is more of a reflection of PSERS' entire team, including the Board and staff, rather than one individual. This team provides the resources, flexibility, experience, and knowledge to help us all make prudent investment decisions for those whom we serve."
The award winners will be announced at a Dec. 5 ceremony and conference in New York City.
About the Pennsylvania Public School Employees' Retirement System
PSERS, founded in 1917, began operations in 1919 to oversee a statewide defined benefit pension plan for public school employees. PSERS' role expanded upon the passage of Act 5 of 2017 to include oversight of two new benefit options consisting of defined benefit and defined contribution (DC) components and a stand-alone DC plan. As of March 31, 2023, PSERS had total net assets of $71.9 billion and a membership of about 248,000 active, 247,000 retired school employees and 27,000 vested inactive members.