Tara Stacy was recently named as the Director of Investment Stewardship. Tara has been with PERA since 2017. We talked to Tara about her new role and share the highlights with PERA on the Issues readers below.
PERA on the Issues: How long have you been in your new job as Director of Investment Stewardship? Is this a new position at PERA?
Tara Stacy: Director of Investment Stewardship is a new position at PERA. I’m a few weeks into my new post, but I’ve been with PERA for two years now. I started here as an analyst in the Chief Investment Officer’s (CIO) Office of Investment Administration. This new role developed organically from some of the work I did in that capacity, so I am excited to continue leading PERA’s progress in investment stewardship.
PERA on the Issues: What is your background in this area?
Tara Stacy: Prior to joining the PERA investment team, I was at a private, buy-side investment firm here in Denver for eight years. I was an equity trader, trading stocks and currencies in global markets. Before that, I was a portfolio administrator for institutional client accounts at the same firm. That included clients with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) related portfolio guidelines. So in trading and in administration, I was implementing ESG mandates and looking at how investment performance was impacted by those considerations.
Since joining PERA, I’ve been involved with managing adherence to PERA’s investment policies and statutory divestment mandates, as well as research and analysis relevant to the performance of PERA’s investments. Over the past few years, that work has become more focused on using my experience as PERA’s investors and management recognized the need to formalize and strengthen our approach to investment stewardship. In 2018, PERA released its first Investment Stewardship Report in answer to growing interest in sustainable investing themes among our peers in the industry and among our stakeholders. From there, the question became, ‘how can we build on this and make our investment stewardship something that is even more financially meaningful to PERA’s investment portfolio, and thus more meaningful to PERA members and beneficiaries?’ My work is about answering that question.
PERA on the Issues: What does your typical day look like?
Tara Stacy: I have yet to see a typical day! My focus right now is on further developing PERA’s investment stewardship initiatives. That might involve strategizing with PERA’s CIO, sharing best practices in the industry, advising PERA’s executive management on related matters, evaluating our investment exposures to sustainability factors, driving PERA’s engagement with stakeholders around our stewardship or conducting research on sustainable investing trends and related risks and opportunities.
Of course I also spend a decent amount of time with our investment teams, implementing investment stewardship initiatives, sharing research and ideas with analysts and portfolio managers and meeting with management teams of the companies in which we invest to talk about the ways they’re considering or incorporating sustainability into their business models and how that affects their profitability.
PERA on the Issues: PERA’s approach to investment stewardship encompasses many facets. What are the top priorities you’re focused on?
Tara Stacy: There is a lot of complexity and nuance to stewardship, with no single approach to suit all investors. There are so many pieces in the mosaic of information investors must consider in meeting their objectives. But when you step back and look at the big picture from PERA’s perspective, it’s all about seeking financial sustainability. We have to maintain that vision, and I’m focused on continuing to develop four foundational practices to uphold that objective:
assets through cost savings and cost consciousness
- Integrate relevant factors into investment decisions
- Advocate for robust markets as a long-term institutional investor
- Evaluate exposure in portfolios to identify value drivers
PERA on the Issues: How does what you’re doing benefit the PERA membership?
Tara Stacy: Financial sustainability is necessarily our primary focus as fiduciaries to PERA’s members and retirees. We have to manage PERA’s investments to protect the financial sustainability of the Fund for their sole benefit. So we have a responsibility to make investment decisions based on all relevant factors that impact the risk-return profile of PERA’s portfolio. By further developing our investment stewardship, we are strengthening PERA’s commitment to the retirement security of our membership. We’re still in the germination stages with our formal investment stewardship program, but that focus on financial sustainability for PERA’s membership continues to drive our investments and my work.
PERA on the Issues: Any thing you’d like the PERA on the Issues readers to know about you?
Tara Stacy: I’m honored and excited to continue serving PERA’s members and retirees in this new capacity.