David G. Bronner

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David G. Bronner
David Bronner.jpg
Personal details
Born David George Bronner
(1945-01-22) January 22, 1945 (age 73)
Residence Montgomery, Alabama
Occupation CEO of Retirement Systems of Alabama

David George Bronner (born January 22, 1945) is an American businessman. He is best known as the head of Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA), the pension fund for employees of the State of Alabama.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Bronner was born in Cresco, Iowa, the son of George David and Marge Bronner. He received his elementary and high school education in Austin, Minnesota. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees at Mankato State University (now Minnesota State University, Mankato), in Mankato, Minnesota. From 1967 to 1969, Bronner was an instructor in the School of Business and Finance at Mankato State. He then entered the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, where he earned a law degree in 1971 and a Ph.D. in 1972.

After teaching in various graduate schools of Education and Business, he was appointed as assistant dean of the Law School at the University of Alabama. Shortly thereafter, Bronner took his present job with RSA in 1973. At that time RSA had approximately $500 million of funds and was owed $1.5 billion by the state. By the end of 2014, RSA had amassed over $34 billion in investments making RSA the 115th largest public pension fund in the world.[2]

RSA's investment strategy has included numerous controversial private and real estate investments with a mixed record of success. To those in Alabama, the most visible RSA development is the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, which features eleven golf course complexes (26 courses) throughout the state. These golf courses were built at the peak of golf's demographic popularity, and have subsequently proven to be a drag on returns with a likely economic loss to RSA retirees and Alabama taxpayers. [3]

Bronner directed the fund to purchase a large interest in US Airways, which resulted in his serving briefly as the airline’s chairman, but ultimately in a loss of RSA’s $150 million investment. RSA has also been a major backer of Community Newspaper Holdings, a chain of over 100 small-market newspapers based in Montgomery, Alabama. The RSA Battle House Tower in Mobile, Alabama is another of Bronner’s developments. He also directed the RSA to purchase Raycom Media, also based in Montgomery, now the fifth largest owner of local television stations with over 59 in the nation. In addition, RSA owns 55 Water Street located in New York City, the largest building in New York City and the second largest office building in America.[2]

Bronner's attraction to unorthodox investments has led to persistent underperformance by RSA pension funds, which have significantly lagged other public pension funds pursuing simpler and lower cost investment strategies. RSA pension funds have regularly failed to meet the state's 8% return objective, and as a result funding ratios for RSA pension funds have regularly declined under Bronner's more than 3 decade tenure. For the 10 year period ended September 30, 2010, for example, the return in RSA's two largest funds trailed more than 90% of Alabama's public pension fund peers nationwide. [4] RSA's focus on Alabama-centric investments and Bronner's personal empire building have even prompted RSA beneficiaries to pursue a class action lawsuit against RSA for fiduciary mismanagement of plan assets. [5]

While presiding over decades of poor performance and declining actuarial funding ratios, Bronner has attracted significant criticism for an autocratic, unaccountable management style [6], poor transparency, political cronyism, and lavish retiree-funded perks [7].

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pritchard, Griffin (September 15, 2011). "Navistar LPGA Classic swings into action today". The Wetumpka Herald. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  2. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "RSA's winners and losers. Hint: the golf courses are a drag". Al.com. Retrieved 10 June 2018. 
  4. ^ "Two Alabama pension funds' investment returns lag most in nation". Blogt.al.com. Retrieved 10 June 2018. 
  5. ^ "Retirement Systems of Alabama sued over its investment record". Blog.al.com. Retrieved 10 June 2018. 
  6. ^ "Alabama's One-Man Pension Show". Governing.com. Retrieved 10 June 2018. 
  7. ^ "How an Alabama state employee built a billionaire's lifestyle in a taxpayer-funded job (opinion) - Yellowhammer News". Yellowhammernews.com. Retrieved 10 June 2018.