‘We’re doing ok’

PFRS Report

As we start to look toward the sunset of the COVID pandemic, we anticipate our new office opening in October. We will then be able to provide more staff who will be available to serve our members in a more efficient manner. 

There is some good news with the break-in-service rule. We are nearing the conclusion with discussion at the governor’s office to review the legal implications of the changes. It appears we made headway with the governor’s office and be moving towards the required 60-day comment period soon. We should have more information by the November meeting. This is promising news, as it has been a priority for our members to get regulation modified. 

Regarding the HMFA, we currently have around 5,000 active mortgages. We’re trying to see if we can look at it more as an asset. There may be possible legislation down the road to fix any deficiencies. 

We are getting closer to implementing our fiduciary insurance. As we grow closer to moving our larger class of funds, we need to ensure that we have adequate insurance. We are currently working on the logistics to ensure that all legal obligations are met to protect the system. This is an important benchmark as we are having continued discussions with the governor’s office with assets transfers/processes. 

We have received a portfolio monitoring service retainer from Motley Rice. This is the firm that will assist in the monitoring of our investment portfolio in connection with class claims that may be suffered against us. 

We also have received our agreement letter with Windel Marx Lane and Mittendorf. This firm will provide legal advice and oversight regarding the transfer of assets from the commingled Common Pension Funds to our own separate one. They will assist in drafting the MOU between us and the Division of Investments regarding operations after the transfer of the pension assets. 

We are currently tracking 22 bills in the legislature. Of that, nine have companion bills, which mean both sides of the house have separate bills with substantially similar language. Some of these bills could have direct or indirect effects on our system. While we will continue to monitor them closely, it is unsure if they will gain any traction before the end of the legislative session. 

As an ongoing discussion, we continue to obtain information and have a dialogue in regards to the fraud unit. As we know, it is essential to have oversight and investigate potential conflict which may contrast with established procedures. We will continue to analyze the four corners of this role in the system and figure out the best way to incorporate it moving forward. 

Lastly, a question that keeps being asked is, “How’s the pension doing? As we report numbers and percentages to the members, the next question is usually, “What does this stuff mean?” Well, to put it in simple text, we’re doing ok. I try to explain to everyone that PFRSNJ is a very unique system that has many complex components. It’s much more than just ruling on disability cases. As trustees, we are fiduciaries, managers, researchers and most importantly, communicators. 

For instance, while we made some impressive gains, the real test is managing the fund during potential economic downturns. We have experienced this in the past and we will surely experience it in the future. Forecasting, sound decisionmaking and keeping a pulse on current conditions will make this system sound and prosperous for years to come. I can assure you that since day one, our priorities have never changed: work as one board, build and maintain a competent staff whose goals are in line with our mission and utilize our professionals to the best ability of the system. Rainy days don’t scare us, as we will weather the storms and continue to grow in all areas. This was the vision of the authors of chapter 55, and it’s our jobs as trustees to carry out those duties.