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Conference Highlights: National Association of Securities Professionals (NASP)

Conference Highlights: National Association of Securities Professionals (NASP)

Callan recently presented at the 28th Annual Pension and Financial Services Conference hosted by the National Association of Securities Professionals (NASP) in Los Angeles. In attendance were about 560 people, of which approximately 160 were plan sponsors.

On day one of the conference, three programs ran concurrently:

  1. NASP Institute: plan sponsor and plan sponsor staff only
  2. Professional Development Series: education for investment professionals at various stages in their careers
  3. Africa Financial Summit: opportunities and challenges when investing in African countries.

The remainder of the conference was packed with plenary sessions and several breakout sessions that addressed investment topics at the forefront of plan sponsors’ and service providers’ minds. Some of the topics included:

  • The Millennial Mindset – Understanding the Industry’s Newest Key Influencers, Consumers, and Talent
  • The Next Frontier of Retirement Readiness: The Intersection of Pensions, Social Security and Defined Contribution Plans
  • No Plain Vanilla – The Search for Yield
  • What’s All the Buzz about ESG
  • Alternatives to 2&20 Strategies

Along with Liza Crisafi, CIO for San Diego City Employees’ Retirement Systems (SDCERS) and Rodney June, CIO for Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System (LACERS), I participated in the “Alternatives to 2&20 Strategies” panel discussion.

We discussed the process for evaluating liquid alternative strategies and the education challenges that must be overcome in order for committees to understand and embrace these relatively new investment products. We also engaged in a spirited debate about governance and the appropriate roles for trustees, staff (prudent experts), and advisors in the evaluation and hiring of managers for these strategies.

All agreed the fiduciary must set broad asset allocation policy and the general direction for the fund; the debate centered on whether the fiduciary board or committee should get involved in the selection and evaluation of individual strategies, or if that function should be delegated to the prudent experts hired by the plan to execute on behalf of the fiduciary.

The tie back to the topic (“Alternatives to 2 & 20”) was the challenge in getting these sometimes complex strategies into the plan, getting a board up to speed in a timely manner on these investment processes, and understanding their purpose within the overall portfolio. The lively debate highlighted the pros and cons of each method of governance, how each method affects the ability of a plan to get new ideas into the portfolio, and the speed of the process of adoption.

The objectives of NASP are:

  • To pursue the highest standards of professionalism and excellence among NASP members.
  • To foster the growth and development of minority and women professionals and of minority-controlled and women-controlled institutions in the financial industry.
  • To increase public awareness, especially among minorities and women of career opportunities.
  • To pursue progressive and balanced policies affecting public and private finance.

Callan is one of the conference sponsors. If you would like to learn more about NASP visit

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