Good morning. My name is Robin Rayfield. I am a retired STRS member and Executive Director of the Ohio Retirement for Teachers Association.
As I reviewed the documents provided by STRS staff for the August meeting, I was surprised to see that on page 7 of the Fiscal 2023 Final Results, STRS reported a return of 7.68%. The second bullet point on this page stated that this number outperformed the benchmark return of 7.62%.
However, under the bold statement noting the outperformance of the benchmark, the unbolded text informs us that the net return was 7 basis points under the benchmark. The net of fees and investment costs returns failed to beat the benchmark.
The next two bullet points indicate that STRS outperformed the benchmark by 67 basis points annualized for 5 years. Is this also a gross of fees number? If so, the 67-basis points number overstates the performance.
It appears that we are being intentionally misled by the people reporting these numbers. A more accurate statement would have been that STRS failed to meet the benchmark net of fees and expenses.
To avoid claims that STRS is not transparent, or is gas lighting, perhaps it would be appropriate for board members to address some of the concerns expressed by the membership each month. For example, you could select a concern expressed from a previous month and take 10 minutes to offer an explanation.
The only way to promote trust from the membership is to communicate in a straightforward manner the information that members desire to understand. Paying bonuses on gross of fees numbers, failing to disclose the secrete deals made with external investment managers, and intentionally misleading the membership has resulted in the election of 5 reform-minded trustees.
Must we really wait for next spring’s election to bring about the change our members demand?
Robin Rayfield, Executive Director of the Ohio Retirement for Teachers Association (ORTA), addressed the STRS Ohio Retirement Board during the September Board meeting.