Virginia Retirement System names new CIO
Andrew Junkin serves as CIO for Rhode Island
The chief investment officer for Rhode Island has been named to lead the same post for Virginia’s retirement system.
The Virginia Retirement System Board of Trustees on Wednesday named Andrew H. Junkin to succeed Ron Schmitz, who is retiring as CIO in January 2023.
Junkin will start in September, according to a news release. He was hired following a national search after Schmitz announced his retirement plans in November 2021.
Junkin joined Rhode Island’s Office of the General Treasurer in June 2020 and manages a team that oversees the state’s $10.5 billion pension plan, a $2 billion defined contribution plan and other funds. In Virginia, he will oversee the country’s 17th largest public pension system, with a trust fund exceeding $100 billion and serving more than 750,000 active and retired members. By comparison, Rhode Island’s pension system serves more than 60,000 active and retired members.
Prior to being hired by Rhode Island, Junkin worked for 15 years for California-based Wilshire Associates, and served as president for five years for Wilshire Consulting, a business unit of the investment management firm, according to his LinkedIn account.
“Andrew has demonstrated vision and skill as an investor in both the public and private sectors. He has led high-performing teams, worked collaboratively in a range of environments and developed innovative investment strategies,” VRS Board of Trustees Chair A. Scott Andrews said in a statement. “His collective experience serves as a critical foundation to continue the excellence and performance of the VRS investment program.”
Junkin will be paid $420,000 annually and will be eligible for individual and fund performance incentives, VRS spokesperson Jeanne Chenault told Virginia Business.
Schmitz, who has served as VRS’ CIO since 2011 and earns an annual $469,626, will remain with the independent agency through the end of 2022 to assist in the transition. Under his guidance, VRS nearly doubled in size from $51 billion in 2011 to nearly $102 billion in fiscal 2021, a year in which it achieved a 27.5% return on investments.
“I look forward to joining the dynamic, nationally recognized VRS investment team that is known for innovation and successful investment strategies,” Junkin said. “My goal is to build on this team’s achievements, remaining focused on VRS’ efforts to deliver investment returns within the risk parameters of the fund, and to ensure retirement security for Virginia’s dedicated public servants.”
After it reconvenes in a special session next week, the General Assembly is expected to act on a budget that could include an infusion of $1 billion in the VRS trust fund to reduce $19 billion in unfunded long-term pension liabilities that it has carried for five state plans since the Great Recession, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.