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Audit finds errors in retirement accounts

Trading mistakes fixed in 868 government employees' accounts

Posted: Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Some government employees in Alaska may not have as much in their state retirement accounts as they think.

State officials have discovered record-keeping errors by two fund managers in the state's participant-directed retirement plans, and will notify the affected employees by letter soon, said Pat Shier, director of the Division of Retirement and Benefits.

The errors effect accounts of 868 government employees in Alaska's Public Employee Retirement System and Teacher Retirement System, which covers state government, local government, schools and others, Shier said. The amounts in question appear to be relatively small.

Shier said the errors were made by State Street Global Advisors, which manages two investment funds for the state. Trades were incorrectly priced early in 2009, but were carried forward through the year, he said.

"Trading errors, while infrequent, do occur in the marketplace and are corrected quickly," Shier's letter said.

They were identified in a routine quality control audit of accounts by state Comptroller Pam Green, he said.

The funds in question were the U.S. REIT Index Fund and the World Equity Ex-US Index Fund, both of which are managed by State Street.

The notification letter will say that the U.S. REIT Index Fund had a range of pricing errors that went from overstating the fund by 3.8 percent to understating it by 1.4 percent. The average price of the fund was overstated by 1.1 percent over 2009.

For the World Equity Ex-US Index Fund all the errors were overstatements, ranging from 0.3 percent to 1.8 percent, with an average of 0.6 percent.

The accounts in question are in the Supplemental Annuity Plan, the Deferred Compensation Plan, and the Defined Contribution Retirement Plan, all of which are self-directed by the employees.

The letter to employees will not identify the fund manager, which Shier said was intentional.

"We don't want to have the thing spin into a blame fest," he said.

State Street Global Advisors is a subsidiary of State Street Corp. a $26 billion banking, finance and investment management business which has extensive dealings with Alaska.

The letter identified Great West, the state's account records contractor, as the company handling the notifications, but Shier said Great West had nothing to do with the errors.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgeyat 523-2250 or e-mail patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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