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New York pension fund enjoys record year, comptroller says

New York ended fiscal 2020-21 with a record return on investment for the state pension fund, according to a statement from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

The estimated overall return was 33.55%, DiNapoli said. As a result, the pension fund increased to $254.8 billion. That takes into account nearly $13.7 billion in death and retirement payments paid out during the year.

The comptroller credited the market rebound that came during the pandemic for the historic run. However, he warned that kind of performance may not be sustainable.

“This outsized return reinforces the Fund’s position as one of the strongest in the nation, but it comes with a caution,” he said. “Markets remain volatile and as unpredictable as ever. With our talented investment staff, I will continue to manage our state’s pension fund with prudence and a focus on stable, long-term results that ensure continued retirement security for our members for generations to come.”

More than half, or 52.82%, of the pension fund’s assets are invested in publicly traded equities. Another 23.14% are in cash, bonds and mortgages. Private equity investments make up 10.57% of the fund, with real estate and assets equaling 8.24%. The remaining 5.23% are in “credit, absolute return strategies and opportunistic alternatives.”

Equities posted the biggest gains for the fund, with global equities delivering a 64.58% return. Domestic equities – the largest asset class – reported a 61.4% return, while non-U.S. equities had a 54.57% return.

According to information on the Office of the State Comptroller’s website, since 1997 the state has had only one other year when the return exceeded 30%. That came in 1998.

In 2010, the plan posted a 25.9% return, but that was coming off a 2009 fiscal year that saw a 26.4% loss from the Great Recession.

In 2020, the fund posted a loss of 2.68%, or $16.2 million, to end that year with a total value of $194.3 billion.

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