Treasurer’s office adds Illinoisan as investment manager

Chicago News USA

State Treasurer Dennis Milligan has hired an investment portfolio manager in Illinois to be the office’s senior investment manager at a starting salary of $115,000 a year.

Robert Romanik, a portfolio manager with McDonnell Investment Management of Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., since October 2007, will start work Feb. 3 in the state treasurer’s office.

“We’re excited to add someone like Robert who has more than 20 years of experience to our growing investment team,” Milligan said in a written statement.

“His experience in portfolio management and fixed income securities was a key point in our decision to bring him to Arkansas’ Treasury,” said Milligan, a Republican from Benton.

The state has an investment portfolio of roughly $4 billion, Milligan spokeswoman Stacy Peterson said Tuesday.

Before working for McDonnell Investment Management, Romanik was a performance analyst for Lehman Brothers Asset Management in Chicago from August 2006-January 2007, and a fixed-income research analyst and trader for ABN AMRO Asset Management in Chicago from September 1998 to June 2006, according to his resume. He received his bachelor’s degree in finance from DePaul University in Chicago.

Sixteen people applied for the position, and 12 of them met the qualifications, Peterson said. Nine of those applicants who met the qualifications were interviewed, while the other three withdrew their applications, she said.

The maximum authorized salary for the senior investment manager position is $120,000 a year under Act 779 of 2019 — the treasurer’s appropriation for fiscal 2020, which started July 1

Romanik’s hiring by Milligan comes four months after the treasurer’s director of investments, former Rep. Ed Garner, R-Maumelle, resigned, effective Sept. 11. Garner said it was time to pursue other financial opportunities. Milligan had declined to give Garner, who was paid $108,000 a year, a raise in fiscal 2020; the treasurer balked at explaining why Garner wasn’t given a raise.

A report released in August by two financial analysts — both faculty members at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock — found that the state treasury had issued between $600 million and $1.5 billion in commercial paper to two single issuers. They recommended tighter restrictions on commercial paper investments, and the state Board of Finance adopted their recommendations.

Garner’s resignation also came on the heels of Milligan hiring a former investment analyst for Arizona’s treasury, Martin Kelly, as the senior investment manager at a salary of $119,000. Kelly started work July 22.

Peterson said Tuesday that Kelly will move into the position as director of investments, but his $119,000 salary will remain the same. The maximum authorized salary for the director position is $141,856 under Act 779 of 2019.

Neither Kelly nor Romanik will have supervisory authority over the other and both will report to Jason Brady, who is chief deputy treasurer of operations, Peterson said.

In August, the state Board of Finance, chaired by Finance and Administration Secretary Larry Walther, lowered its target rate of return for the state treasury from 2.5% in fiscal 2019 to 2% in fiscal 2020. The target rate of return applies to the treasury’ general investment portfolio.

In fiscal 2019, the treasury’s interest earnings totaled $116.9 million, exceeding the previous high of $113.1 million in fiscal 2008, according to the treasurer office’s records.

Metro on 01/22/2020

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