CalPERS hires former SIS consultant

Harshal Shah, who worked directly with LP clients like the state pension systems of New Jersey and Indiana, joined the retirement system at the end of December as a private equity portfolio manager.

A recent hire by the private equity team at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System has sparked interest in the limited partner community.

Harshal Shah, a former vice president with consultant Strategic Investment Solutions, joined CalPERS as a portfolio manager on the private equity team at the end of December, a CalPERS spokesperson confirmed.

It’s not clear exactly what kind of work Shah will be doing at CalPERS. Shah was fairly well-known among a certain type of LP as the lead consultant for big state plans in New Jersey and Indiana. Prior to SIS, Shah worked as a co-portfolio manager and senior analyst at Fremont Investment Advisors. He also worked as senior research analyst for Wells Capital Management, according to a presentation document from SIS.

Several LP sources said it was unusual for an LP consultant to join a state plan; the usual track involves building private equity experience at a state system and then moving into better paying roles at consultancies. However, the sources also said the CalPERS role was a big opportunity.

CalPERS has 12 open positions to fill on its private equity team, 10 of which have investment classifications, the CalPERS spokesperson said. Last year, the retirement system re-built the senior levels of the private equity team that had been depleted after the departures of senior portfolio managers Joncarlo Mark and Mike Dutton. The senior team is made up of Sarah Corr, Christine Gogan and Scott Jacobsen, and private equity is led by Réal Desrochers.