South Carolina CIO Hershel Harper resigns

The $29bn pension fund is an investor in several secondaries funds including those of Industry Ventures and Lexington Partners.

Hershel Harper, chief investment officer of the South Carolina Retirement System Investment Commission, is resigning on 30 September, after more than seven years with the Commission, according to the pension plan.

Hershel Harper
Hershel Harper

“Hershel took over as CIO in a time of great turmoil for the organisation, and through his dignified approach to the position, he has helped reestablish a great deal of credibility for the organization,” said RSIC executive director Michael Hitchcock in an email.

In December 2011, the Commission voted to split the chief executive officer and chief investment officer duties into two separate positions, which is when Harper was named acting chief investment officer. In July 2012, he was officially named chief investment officer. Previously, he served as deputy chief investment officer for the RSIC.

Prior to joining the RSIC, Harper was senior institutional product manager at Evergreen Investments from 2006 to 2008. He has also worked for Columbia Management and for State Street Global Advisors.

“He has built a fantastic investment team that has made significant strides, and he now wants to consider other professional opportunities,” Hitchcock added.

Hershel is staying on temporarily as senior advisor, as the RSIC looks for a permanent replacement. David Haas, the director of private equity, is currently leading private equity strategies.

The RSIC’s private equity programme is quite young. “The portfolio’s private equity programme is much more opportunistic than a traditional model because the programme was started during the economic downturn of 2008 and 2009,” Harper said at the RSIC’s June meeting, adding that his staff has been backlifting the asset class with some vintage-year diversification as well as strategy diversification.

One way to diversify vintages is by investing in secondaries vehicles. South Carolina RSIC has committed to at least six secondaries funds, including those managed by Industry Ventures and Lexington Partners.

Secondaries Investor reported in November that the Commission planned to increase its exposure to secondaries from 10 percent of its private equity exposure to 12 percent in the next five to seven years.

South Carolina RSIC has $29.2 billion of assets under management, including a 8.8 percent exposure to private equity.