News release | Karen Doron
WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (January 11, 2024) – Christopher Ailman, chief investment officer of the California State Teachers' Retirement System, announced his retirement at the Teachers' Retirement Board Investment Committee meeting. He will continue to serve as CIO through June 30, 2024, while the board conducts a global search for his successor. Ailman has served as the CalSTRS CIO since October 2000. He is one of the longest-tenured CIOs in the world.
"It has been an honor to lead and guide this massive global investment trust fund for the teachers of California," Ailman said. "CalSTRS is truly a world-class asset manager and we have a powerful track record of top performance at a low cost with an amazing diverse internal team."
During his two decades stewarding the CalSTRS investment portfolio, Ailman helped CalSTRS overcome the internet bubble bursting in 2000–2002, the economic effects of the 9/11 tragedy and the 2008 global financial crisis. His insights and advice for the board and steady leadership of investment staff yielded top-quartile results for the 20 years ending June 30, 2023. The CalSTRS Investment Portfolio was valued at $109.6 billion when he started and has grown to $317.8 billion as of November 30, 2023.
Ailman has built a strong culture for the Investments Branch that is widely recognized across the institutional investment industry. As a result, CalSTRS has been named one of the “Best Places to Work in Money Management” by Pensions & Investments eight years in a row and nine times total. Ailman is annually listed among the top 100 global CIOs and has been named CIO of the year by multiple publications.
Throughout his career, Ailman has been a champion of diversity both at CalSTRS and in the investment industry, leading the way with internship and mentorship programs, emerging and diverse manager commitments, outreach events, and engagements at portfolio companies. These programs are a key part of CalSTRS culture and will continue to grow under the new CIO.
During Ailman's tenure, he formed an innovation team and two new asset classes, Inflation Sensitive and Risk Mitigating Strategies. Ailman spent the last five years focused on helping the board commit to and implement a sustainable portfolio, including the long-term goal to achieve a net zero greenhouse gas emissions portfolio by 2050 or sooner.
"Under Christopher's leadership, CalSTRS has weathered two challenging decades of financial market downturns and bull markets. He is a global leader and viewed as one of the top CIOs in the world," Teachers' Retirement Board Chair Harry Keiley said. "His legacy and biggest contribution is his commitment to diversity and developing highly skilled professionals who have performed at a high level for more than two decades. I am eternally grateful to Christopher for all that he has given to CalSTRS, and I am confident the Investments team will continue to help us achieve our mission to secure the financial future of California's educators.”
Ailman is chairman of the 300 Club of global CIOs and co-chair of the Milken Global Capital Markets Advisory Council. He serves on the boards of FCLT, Focus Capital on the Long-term, the MSCI Management Advisor Council and the CEM Global III FFFF. He has been named the top global CIO by several publications over the years and received two lifetime achievement awards. He is a regular guest on CNBC and Bloomberg TV.
As his encore career, Ailman will pursue serving on boards and advising asset managers and owners on the global energy transition and the path to net zero. He has a passion for teaching and will continue to present guest lectures at multiple universities.
Ailman will step down as CIO on June 30, 2024. He will serve as an advisor to the new CIO to assist in the transition for the remainder of 2024. The board will form a committee to immediately begin a global search for a new CIO.
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CalSTRS provides a secure retirement to more than 1 million members and beneficiaries whose CalSTRS-covered service is not eligible for Social Security participation. On average, members who retired in 2022–23 had 25 years of service and a monthly benefit of $5,141. Established in 1913, CalSTRS is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world with $317.8 billion in assets under management as of November 30, 2023. CalSTRS demonstrates its strong commitment to long-term corporate sustainability principles in its annual Sustainability Report.