Investment chief at teachers’ pension fund jumps to same job at UTIMCO


Chief investment officer Thomas “Britt” Harris managed fund more than three times as large at TRS of Texas.

At UTIMCO, Harris replaces former CIO Bruce Zimmerman, who resigned abruptly in October 2016.

The longtime chief investment officer of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas is leaving to take the same position at the smaller University of Texas/Texas A&M Investment Management Co., both funds announced Friday.

Thomas “Britt” Harris, who oversaw investment strategy at TRS for more than a decade, will begin as chief executive and chief investment officer at UTIMCO on Aug. 1.

“Serving TRS has been one of the great honors of my professional life,” Harris said in the TRS press release. “Our teachers and educators are such important people, and it has been a privilege to serve them.”

Harris joined TRS, one of the country’s largest pension funds, as chief investment officer in November 2006. At the time, the fund was worth around $100 billion.

Its value dropped sharply during the recession, falling to $67 billion during the 2007-2008 financial crisis. But in the years since, Harris and his colleagues rebuilt its value to $140 billion today, according to the TRS release.

Deputy CIO Jerry Albright will take over as interim chief at TRS, and the fund’s board will consider plans for a permanent replacement at its July meeting.

At UTIMCO, Harris will replace interim CEO Mark Warner, who had led the fund in an interim capacity after former CIO Bruce Zimmerman resigned abruptly in October 2016.

RELATED: UTIMCO investment chief gets $1.3 million in severance, bonus pay

With the move, Harris takes over an influential but far smaller pension fund. As of May, UTIMCO listed assets worth $40.3 billion — less than a third of TRS’s value.

Harris “brings expertise in global financial management and a critically important understanding of endowment management to support education,” said Jeffery Hildebrand, UTIMCO’s chairman and vice chairman of The University of Texas System Board of Regents.

Harris has a track record of more than three decades at some of the largest investment funds in the country, according to the UTIMCO release. Chief Investment Officer magazine named him one of the world’s top five asset investors in each of the past five years.

“I consider it a distinct honor to be joining UTIMCO,” Harris said in the UTIMCO release. “I appreciate the strong tradition and profound responsibility that comes with stewarding and significantly increasing the value of endowment funds that fuel the missions of The University of Texas and Texas A&M University systems.”

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