The Florida State Board of Administration, which manages $112 billion in state pension assets, has enacted a rule governing placement agents that is unique in one aspect: it includes expanded disclosure requirements on the selection process of attorneys who represent the pension.
SBA followed the lead of other pension plans like the California Public Employees’ Retirement System in tightening disclosure for placement agents doing business with the pension. The tighter internal policies were created in the wake of a spreading national wide pay-to-play scandal involving several big US pensions like the New York State Common Retirement Fund.
The SBA's policy, set on 1 December, requires SBA fund managers to disclose when they use placement agents and the fees paid them. In addition, placement agents are now required to disclose résumés of partners, officers or principals and to include regulatory licenses, professional designations and investment-related experience.
The SBA also has expanded disclosure on the selection process for a pool of attorneys to represent the agency in lawsuits in securities matters filed on behalf of the Florida Retirement System and other funds managed by the SBA. Law firms vying to represent the SBA are now required to disclose campaign contributions made by their attorneys and other employees, and to detail fees, if any, paid to “third-party interests acting as middlemen”.
The SBA will review its internal policy after the US Securities and Exchange Commission finalises its rules on placement agents at a national level, the board said in a statement. Souces told PEM's sister web site PEO a final version of the SEC placement agent rule could be out in early 2010.
In November, documents were reportedly released revealing that the SEC has been investigating the SBA since July 2008 to determine if the board and three investment banks – JPMorgan Chase, Credit Suisse, and Lehman Brothers – intentionally misled investors about the risk and liquidity of some of the pension fund’s investments.