George Graham, Director of the South Yorkshire Pensions Authority

George is the director of this multi-billion-dollar public pensions fund in Yorkshire England, where he is responsible for the management of all aspects of the Authority’s activity.  A man who understands who his members are and the best way to provide for them, ensuring the viability of his fund and the security of his fund members is his top priority.  Meet the Man behind one of UK’s large public funds; you will learn not just about good management, but management with a heart.

Show Notes For George Graham Director of South Yorkshire Pensions Authority

[02:01] How George’s career started

  • Back in the late 1980’s, all his friends were going into big accountancy practices but it wasn’t his thing
  • Over the course of his career, he had been involved in ensuring that finances were in place.
  • He has been involved in various large economic development projects that will affect communities in the long-run

[04:52] Having a meaningful job of being a director of a pension fund

  • Graham manages the “Local Government Pension Scheme” where they provide pension for workers who worked for local governments but not teachers, uniformed police, firefighters.
  • They have 540 employers in the fund
  • Most of the members of the pension are women.

[09:13] How George’s community changed because of Climate Change

  • There’s one coal pit remaining in the county
  • Light engineering, distribution, and manufacturing are slowly growing in the county

[13:18] How COVID affected coal mining retirees

  • As a fund, April – June has seen a high rise of pensioner deaths and deaths of scheme members

[15:40] How treating pensioners as “people” and not just numbers affected their investment strategy

  • They started investing locally and will grow over time to 2% of the fund
  • There is a strong connection with the pension fund and the scheme members
  • They have an annual fund meeting and gets a significant amount of attendees

[20:36] The way moving forward with thier fund

  • They’re currently de risking by taking money out of equities and putting into infrastructure, credit because the membership is getting more and more mature
  • At the moment it’s 50% equity, 10% real estate
  • There’s a significant decline in valuations in commercial real estate

[25:36] South Yorkshire Pensions Authority’s position in litigations

  • They’ve been part of class action lawsuits in the past and had been historic participants in litigations with an oil company in the US
  • The opportunities in UK for litigations are much less than in US
  • There’s a risk-reward balance that you have to do when doing litigations

[30:43] The most impacted part of their portfolio because of COVID

  • In terms of valuations, property portfolio and private equity took a hit
  • The main concern is, how long will COVID go and when are we going to open the economy again
    • There is a need to rethink on how to reposition parts of the portfolio and if they could find assets that they could move.

[35:35] How their staff got impacted by COVID

  • They moved to having a third of a staff work in Monday – Wednesday, then another third in Thursday – Friday in “bubbles”

[40:28] George’s interest about Art History


Listen to all other episodes of Pension Trends Plus with Atara Twersky on AF&T’s websitePodbean, or wherever you listen to podcasts!

Atara Twersky, is of counsel at AF&T.  Atara is also the best selling author of the children’s book series, Curlee Girlee, inspired by her own young  curly haired daughter and written for all curly girls in an effort to ensure they love themselves and their hair exactly as it is.  You can find out more about Atara here.  Listen to other podcast episodes Pension Trends Plus with Atara Twersky here  or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts!