Local CEO appointed to Kentucky Retirement System Board of Trustees
By Glenn McGlothlin and Brittany Fuller
Nicholasville native David Harris, chief executive officer of MCF Advisors, LLC, was recently appointed chairman of the board of trustees for the Kentucky Retirement Systems Board until 2022 by Gov. Matt Bevin.
Working in the finance industry since 1980, Harris began his career as a commodity trader on the Chicago Exchange. Since then, he has provided investment management services for retirement plans, individuals, families and businesses since 1989.
Harris has held an executive leadership role in corporate settings for more than three decades, which includes his work at MCF Advisors, LLC, an investment management firm in charge of managing more than $1.6 billion of client assets in two divisions — wealth management, including individuals, families and business owners, and institutional management such as retirement plans.
Harris has worked in government since the summer of 2016, and said he is currently working to make a difference in the Kentucky retirement system by taking a hands-on approach.
“We are taking a hands-on approach to our pension’s financial situation,” Harris said. “We are continuing to increase the security of employees’ retirement. In doing this, we are also building a base of confidence from taxpayers.”
Providing guidance to Kentucky’s executive management and staff who serve more than 372,000 members and handle $18 billion in pension assets, Harris said the KRS board strives to build strength in the trust of funds in order to ensure adequate resources, meet obligations and help members and beneficiaries achieve financial security in their retirement. Harris said the board has an important role to play in the state’s financial situation.
“If we continue to take a collaborative and transparent attitude in ‘righting the ship,’ we will restore the financial health of Kentucky’s pension system and therefore eliminate a significant drag to our state’s financial outlook,” Harris said.
Harris has previously served as vice chair and investment committee chair.
In serving Kentucky, Harris believes his most important jobs include setting actuarial assumptions for each pension plan, investing the pension assets to attain the long term assumed rates and return, as well as overseeing the day-to-day management of Kentucky’s constituent’s benefits.
“As a taxpayer, I believe we must look for opportunities to improve our state’s economic growth (i.e. revenue),” Harris said. “In doing so, we must also manage our liabilities in a forthright manner. Providing education, guidance and transparency to our legislative chambers and executive branch is imperative to changing Kentucky’s financial direction.”
Harris said some of his accomplishments so far include eliminating $12 million of investment expenses per year, replacing the KRS Actuarial Firm to create a board aware of their responsibility in order to “vet” actuarial recommendations, establishing a relationship with Kentucky’s legislators committee the Public Pension Oversight Board and working to become transparent with the media as to pension assumptions, investment strategies and guidance of pension and retirement issues within the state.
“Three years ago, KRS pension performance ranked in the 80th percentile (bottom) of all public pension funds in the U.S.,” Harris said. “Today, we are in the 17th percentile. We have exceeded financial expectations and dramatically improved the trajectory of the trust funds investment potential… I look forward to continue serving the Commonwealth of Kentucky in guiding our legislators in making sound financial decisions putting our state back into a healthy financial status.”
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