LASERS investment returns up 11.1%

The Louisiana State Employees Retirement System registered 11.1 percent in retirement investment returns for the first nine months of 2012, pension system officials announced.

“Any time we get good numbers, we like to boast about it,” said Maris LeBlanc, deputy director of Louisiana State Employees Retirement System, or LASERS. “It’s good news in that we are posting positive investment returns. We are recognized as doing as well or better than our peers in comparison.”

LeBlanc said Tuesday LASERS started the year with $8.634 billion in investments. The system had assets of $9 billion.

As of the June 30, 2012, actuarial valuation, LASERS has 52,352 active state employee members and 42,722 retiree members.

In spite of a major market downturn during the decade’s “Great Recession,” the pension system earned a 9 percent annualized return for the 10-year period that ended Sept. 30, said Cindy Rougeou, LASERS executive director.

LASERS is ranked as one of the top public pensions systems in the U.S. that have a market value of more than $1 billion by Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service, which has the largest database of any peer-comparison service in the industry.

The pension system also has been recognized by Cliffwater LLC as one of the top 10 state pension plans in the U.S. based on an analysis of 10-year annualized investment returns. Cliffwater is an independent investment advisory firm.

“We are doing well in the market at the moment,” LeBlanc said.

The investment returns are going well across the board, whether handled in-house or by system money managers, LeBlanc said.

About 30 percent of the LASERS portfolio is handed in-house.

“It allows us to save money on fees that normally would be paid to money managers. We have the capability of handling some of those investments,” LeBlanc said.