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Employees of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board — the agency that manages retirement funds for more than 600,000 current and former public workers — will share in bonuses totaling $11.6 million, the agency said Friday.

It is the fourth-highest bonus pot in the past five years.

The incentive payments, approved by the SWIB board of trustees, are based on the five-year investment earnings that exceed general market returns. That amounted to $759 million for the past five years ending in December.

Last year, SWIB employees received a total of $13.8 million in incentive payments — a record amount — after tallying $1.2 billion in earnings above market returns during the five-year period that ended the previous December.

Of this year’s $11.6 million pot, two of SWIB’s high-level employees will each get bonuses topping $500,000.

Charles Carpenter, managing director of private markets and Funds Alpha, is in line for $529,576, while chief investment officer David Villa will get $507,500.

Former executive director Michael Williamson, who retired in January, is designated to receive $450,000.

Only two other bonus amounts were disclosed Friday: Todd Ludgate, managing director-fixed income, $440,276, and Steven Spiekerman, portfolio manager-real estate, $373,151.

Most of the rest of SWIB staff members will find out their bonuses next week.

SWIB manages more than $117 billion in assets. The Wisconsin Retirement System’s Trust Funds make up $108.5 billion of that.

The state’s retirement funds have been lauded nationwide; most recently, just this week.

A report released Thursday by The Pew Charitable Trusts said Wisconsin’s pension system is “the best funded in the nation,” with 99 percent of its liabilities covered by its assets — in other words, it has enough money to pay nearly all of its promised benefits to participants in the system.

Only three other states — New York, South Dakota and Tennessee — were at least 90 percent funded.

On the other hand, New Jersey had available only 31 percent of the necessary funding, the Pew report said. Nationwide, state pension funds reported a combined deficit of $1.4 trillion in 2016, the Pew study said.

SWIB executive director Rick Smirl credited the agency’s staff and management for keeping the Wisconsin Retirement System strong.

“At times since the Great Recession, the financial markets have been volatile with dramatic swings that have proven challenging for many investors,” Smirl said.

“We have met that challenge head on with elite investment management and cost-saving measures that underscore our commitment to helping provide a strong financial future for the beneficiaries of the funds entrusted to us.”

Incentive compensation is based on an employee’s contributions to the organization’s success, SWIB said.

The $108.5 billion Wisconsin Retirement System is the ninth-largest public pension fund in the U.S and the 25th-largest public or private pension fund worldwide, SWIB said. More than 622,000 current and former public employees have accounts in the system, including about 200,000 retirees.


(6) comments


If people have a problem with this, stockholders should be upset about corporate pay.

On Earth

They deserve their pay. I get a pension from State of WI and I do not begrudge these managers their salary. The WI Retirement System is consistently rated #1 or #2 in the country for State systems. If they are not paid well they will go elsewhere (they will be sought after by private pension groups) and WI will go downhill. Money in this system belongs to the employees who invested in it, through direct contribution and/ or through their employment compensation package. Those employees deserve to have their investments managed well.

Rick Czeczok

This bonus is ridiculous, if it is based on how there investments did this last year, it's even worse. A child of 2 could have picked winners when the markets average increase was over 30%. Give me a break, this needs to be stopped immediately. Governor Walker, please stop this action, as it is totally unwarranted.


This is ridiculous, Mike McCabe for Governor.


This is a ridiculous amount of money to be paying out, these funds should be used to take care of the retirees, especially the ones Scooter bent over.


Public employees should not get bonuses for gambling with our money, no matter how successful they are. Will they be forced to pay back money to taxpayers if their bets don't pay off? No, of course not. This money should be managed by civil servants with the intent of delivering the best results for taxpayers, not getting themselves a fat bonus check.

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