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Two top managers leave Alaska Permanent Fund

Posted: June 13, 2011 - 9:36pm
Alaska Permanent Fund CIO Jeffrey Scott, left, and Director of Asset Allocation and Risk Max Giolitti work together at the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation office in Juneau in August, 2010. Both announced Monday they are leaving the fund to join consulting firm Wurts and Associates in Seattle.   Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Alaska Permanent Fund CIO Jeffrey Scott, left, and Director of Asset Allocation and Risk Max Giolitti work together at the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation office in Juneau in August, 2010. Both announced Monday they are leaving the fund to join consulting firm Wurts and Associates in Seattle.

Two top Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. managers who headed up a highly publicized restructuring of the state’s $40 billion savings account are leaving the fund.

News of the decisions by Jeffrey Scott, the fund’s chief investment officer, and Max Giolitti, its chief of asset allocation and risk management, became public Monday.

Mike Burns, the permanent fund’s executive director, said he was “surprised” by Scott’s decision to leave.

Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, said Scott’s departure after 2 1/2 years did not provide the state with the stability it needed in that position.

“It’s nice to have a little longer tenure in your investment guys, there’s no doubt about that,” Stedman said.

Stedman, co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, also works as a financial planner.

As chief investment officer of the state’s biggest savings account, Scott played an important role in its management.

That was reflected in his $348,000 annual salary, higher than Burns’ and among the very highest in state government.

He will join Wurts & Associates, a Seattle investment management group, that company announced Monday. Giolitti will also be joining Wurts.

Burns said Scott told him of the decision to leave last Wednesday.

Scott’s commitment to Alaska has been called into question before, when legislators raised concerns about his claim to live in Alaska.

Scott told a legislative committee overseeing the permanent fund in 2009 that he was now an Alaska resident.

“I wasn’t a citizen of Alaska before, but I am now,” he said.

It is not clear, though, that Scott ever really moved to Alaska, though he did rent a condo near the permanent fund’s headquarters. He declined Empire requests at the time for evidence supporting his claim of Alaska residency.

Scott blamed difficulty in selling his Snoqualmie, Wash., house for his delay moving his family to Alaska.

Seattle-area real estate listings showed Scott’s house listed for sale at $1.65 million at the time. It was then valued by the local assessor at $701,000.

Burns said the failure to sell the house seems to have played a role in Scott’s departure.

“I think it has been very challenging on Jeff’s family,” he said, blaming the “inability to sell their home and have the family here.”

Scott last year told Institutional Investor magazine that he’d taken a pay cut to come to Alaska, but it is not clear what that pay cut would have been from. A hedge fund that he and Giolitti had established after leaving Microsoft Corp.’s investment management division had shut down before his being hired by the permanent fund.

Burns said he expects Scott will get a pay raise at Wurts.

“I’m sure he’ll make more,” he said, but said there was no indication that inadequate pay was the reason for Scott’s departure.

“I honestly don’t think that was the proximate cause,” he said.

Burns said he wasn’t sure what the corporation would seek to pay its new CIO.

Scott will stay with the permanent fund through Aug. 1, Burns said. That’s likely not enough time to bring in a new top investment manger, but Burns said he would likely serve as acting CIO in the interim.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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