The Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation will hire 10 new workers in Juneau, CEO Angela Rodell told the Juneau Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, earning a round of applause from a room of civic and business leaders.
The hiring, already approved by the Alaska Legislature, is part of a push to bring more than half of the state-owned corporation’s decisions in-house instead of being contracted out to private companies.
“That in-house management, I want to be clear, is right here in Juneau,” Rodell said, sparking the round of applause.
Her remarks came during the chamber’s regular weekly luncheon at the Juneau Moose Lodge.
The corporation’s fiscal year ended June 30, and it will announce results as soon as next week, she said.
Through May, the corporation had year-to-date investment returns of 10.1 percent, well above both the benchmark for unmanaged investment funds and above the corporation’s own target.
Rodell also announced — again to applause — that Juneau will host the 2019 annual meeting of the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds.
This year’s annual meeting is in Marrakech, Morroco; last year’s was in Astana, Kazakhstan.
That meeting will bring the leaders of more than 30 sovereign wealth funds from around the world to Juneau in September 2019. Collectively, they represent trillions of dollars of global investments.
The Alaska Permanent Fund is the largest sovereign wealth fund in the United States, though its $65 billion value is on the small side by international standards.
Asked by a Chamber member why the fund is smaller than Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, Rodell pointed out that the fund has paid out more than $25 billion (mostly in dividends) since its inception. Had that money remained within the fund, its value would be much higher.
Rodell reminded her audience that the Alaska Permanent Fund has no offices outside of Juneau — and does not intend to open any. That can make hiring difficult, since fund managers accustomed to New York City are sometimes reluctant to move to Juneau.
“It’s hard for families to relocate here,” she said, citing the “quality of elementary education, lack of childcare and lack of ability for partners to find work” as detriments to hiring.
In addition, the state’s defined-contribution retirement system is a huge disincentive for people to stay in their jobs. When the Alaska Legislature switched the state from a pension system to a 401k-style approach, it made for easy departures.
“It is really easy to pick up and leave when you have a mobile benefit like defined contribution, and I think that’s what a lot of people don’t understand,” Rodell said. “When you don’t continue to pay people, you’re going to continue to see a revolving door.”
Despite those challenges, she said the fund has had some success by targeting people who are in the early stages of their careers and are looking for a resume-building option.
“Where we’ve had great success is in attracting the 28-35-year-old who may or may not be in a relationship,” she said.
Someone in a Wall Street firm without much upward mobility might be willing to move to Juneau for a better position, and she has found that younger workers are as much interested in an experience (such as living in Alaska) as money.
“It doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay,” she added. “They will get picked off eventually, and you just have to recognize that.”
• Contact reporter James Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 523-2258.