Investments performing well during crisis

Even in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, financial investments for Bloomfield Township are still doing extremely well, financial advisors said at the quarterly financial sustainability committee on Wednesday, July 29.

The committee, which was formed in 2015 to assist the treasurer and trustees in making better informed financial decisions, is a non-decision making advisory board. The July 29 meeting was held to discuss finances related to its quarterly review and the potential addition of institutional grade real estate being added to the township’s investment strategy.

Bloomfield Township Treasurer Brian Kepes reported that the township’s ladder of treasury bills (T-bills) have been maturing in the local government investment pool with Oakland County, where a portion have been invested for less than a year.

“Oakland County now is yielding about 1.42 percent…which today is a strong rate,” he said. “We’re achieving substantially better than the current T-bill. That’s why we’ve changed the strategy of investing.”

The current T-bill rate is at .123 percent.

Overall returns for the total fund were up 22.12 percent, while total equity returns were up 22.14 percent. The current allocation was very close to target for all three asset classes. No further action was recommended from financial advisors.

“They were almost spot on,” Kepes said. “It’s great to be within target. And it’s great to have achieved the results that we’ve achieved, especially in light of everything that’s going on. Our investments are doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”

Kepes said for about the last year the committee has been looking to expand the investment asset classes to try to take off some of the volatility from the market and other asset classes. They looked at how assets were performing on the defined benefits side and began to think about putting assets into another category, such as real estate.

Members of the committee were unanimously on board with the idea. At the next meeting, in October, there will be a more detailed presentation for members. The final decision will be made by the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees, which is when a larger discussion about investment percentages would be discussed, the committee explained.

“There will be no investments in real estate unless it’s approved by the board as part of the strategy that the township wants to go for with its pension plan, which, by the way, is exceedingly common in these types of plans,” Kepes said.

AndCo, an institutional investment consulting firm, is initially looking to invest about five percent of the township’s assets into real estate. The township’s restructuring of a longtime contract with Prudential Retirement Insurance and Annuity, which holds the township’s defined benefit pension plan, was done after trustees became aware in 2014 that the plan was drastically underperforming, and had been since about 2004. Prudential manages about $150 million in a guaranteed deposit account yielding about 2.5 percent, while the rest of the township’s assets, about $65 million which is with AndCo, and has yielded about 18 percent, is invested in equities.

This article was originally published on Downtown newsmagazine | Birmingham/Bloomfield

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