Updated: November 15, 2020
Issue: Teachers’ Retirement System investments generated a positive 0.6 percent rate of return, net of fees, (1.3 percent gross of fees) during fiscal year 2020, which ended on June 30, 2020. The investment return in FY 2018 net of fees was 5.2 percent and 5.8 percent gross of fees.
TRS ended FY 2020 on June 30 with $51.6 billion in assets, which places the System among the top 50 largest pension funds in the United States.
Discussion: In the wake of the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the TRS rate of return for FY 2020 validates the investment strategy of the TRS Board of Trustees to maintain a widely diversified portfolio. This diversification combats volatility in the world financial markets. By strategically spreading the System’s assets across a wide range of investment opportunities, any losses in one particular investment class are balanced by gains in other sectors. The goal is to achieve steady growth over the long-term.
At the end of FY 2020, TRS maintained approximately 32.9 percent of its investments in publicly-held companies around the world, approximately 28 percent in bonds and other fixed-income securities, approximately 15.7 percent in real estate worldwide, approximately 12.6 percent in private equity opportunities and the remainder in various alternative investments, including hedge funds and commodities.
The TRS investment strategy does not focus on a single year’s worth of investment returns and will always take a long-term view of investment returns because the System is a perpetual entity that must be in place for retired members and active members for decades to come. During the 40-year period that ended in 2020, TRS investments earned 9 percent net of fees against a long-term target of 7 percent.
Since 2000, TRS has recorded positive investment returns in 15 fiscal years.