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Our pension system’s investment officer jetted off to Amsterdam

Tripping for pensions

Can’t afford Europe, city worker? Travel vicariously through your pension’s investment officer, Jamie Hamrick.
Can’t afford Europe, city worker? Travel vicariously through your pension’s investment officer, Jamie Hamrick.

San Diego city workers who are slowly saving up for post-retirement dream trips to Europe may now experience the same vicariously through the travels of their pension system’s investment officer Jamie Hamrick. According to an August 24 disclosure filing, Hamrick jetted off to Amsterdam in the Netherlands aboard Delta Airlines, staying at the luxury Andaz Amsterdam hotel on a two-day journey from June 14 through 16. Travel costs were $4161, lodging was $1505, and meals amounted to $529, for a total expenditure of $6196, picked up by London-based Europa Capital Partners LLP. “Set in the historic center of Amsterdam within the ring of canals, our five-star lifestyle hotel offers guests a chance to be a part of daily life in the city’s lively Jordaan district,” says the Andaz website.

The occasion was the Europa Capital Annual Meeting. According to the disclosure, San Diego city’s retirement system is “is an investor in Europa Fund III and Europa Fund IV and sits on the Investor Advisory Committee for both investments.” When the city pension fund put $20 million into Fund IV in August 2013, it posted a story saying, “The Pan-European strategy will focus on the UK, France and Germany, and can include recapitalizations, refurbishments and repositionings. Its most recent acquisition involved the Tour Vista office building in Paris.”

Added the item, “the investment team at San Diego City, led by investment officer Jamie Hamrick and real estate consultant Hewitt EnnisKnupp, believe the new fund is a good fit for the pension fund’s real estate portfolio based on their experience in Europa Fund III and meetings with the Europa Capital team.” Last month, according to a report by Commercial Property Executive, Europa bought a 270,000-square-foot office building on the Evropska Corridor in Prague.

Hamrick’s European jaunt continues a busy travel season for the pension-fund executive. In April, she spent two days at Shutters on the Beach, a Santa Monica luxury venue, for $521, courtsey of Mesa West Capital, LLC. The same month she bedded down at Manhattan’s Andaz, thanks to LaSalle Investment Management, which picked up the trip’s $1200 tab. In May it was back to the East Coast, where Long Wharf Real Estate Partners put up Hamrick at the Boston Harbor Hotel, for a total trip cost of $2267.

In an August 7 email explaining Hamrick’s travel, pension system communications manager Jessica Packard wrote, “Part of her responsibilities include attending Advisory Committee meetings as an Advisory Committee member for SDCERS. Her travel expenses are paid for by the General Partner as outlined in the investment contract with each of the General Partners that we are invested with.”

Continues the email, “These travel expenses have been approved by the San Diego Ethics Commission and are reported through the filing of Form 801. The benefit to SDCERS comes from Jamie meeting directly with the General Partner, interacting with fellow Advisory Committee members, and being able to give direction to the General Partner on various issues as they arise.”

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The Scarlet Letter (1850), also carried over into his poetic output
Can’t afford Europe, city worker? Travel vicariously through your pension’s investment officer, Jamie Hamrick.
Can’t afford Europe, city worker? Travel vicariously through your pension’s investment officer, Jamie Hamrick.

San Diego city workers who are slowly saving up for post-retirement dream trips to Europe may now experience the same vicariously through the travels of their pension system’s investment officer Jamie Hamrick. According to an August 24 disclosure filing, Hamrick jetted off to Amsterdam in the Netherlands aboard Delta Airlines, staying at the luxury Andaz Amsterdam hotel on a two-day journey from June 14 through 16. Travel costs were $4161, lodging was $1505, and meals amounted to $529, for a total expenditure of $6196, picked up by London-based Europa Capital Partners LLP. “Set in the historic center of Amsterdam within the ring of canals, our five-star lifestyle hotel offers guests a chance to be a part of daily life in the city’s lively Jordaan district,” says the Andaz website.

The occasion was the Europa Capital Annual Meeting. According to the disclosure, San Diego city’s retirement system is “is an investor in Europa Fund III and Europa Fund IV and sits on the Investor Advisory Committee for both investments.” When the city pension fund put $20 million into Fund IV in August 2013, it posted a story saying, “The Pan-European strategy will focus on the UK, France and Germany, and can include recapitalizations, refurbishments and repositionings. Its most recent acquisition involved the Tour Vista office building in Paris.”

Added the item, “the investment team at San Diego City, led by investment officer Jamie Hamrick and real estate consultant Hewitt EnnisKnupp, believe the new fund is a good fit for the pension fund’s real estate portfolio based on their experience in Europa Fund III and meetings with the Europa Capital team.” Last month, according to a report by Commercial Property Executive, Europa bought a 270,000-square-foot office building on the Evropska Corridor in Prague.

Hamrick’s European jaunt continues a busy travel season for the pension-fund executive. In April, she spent two days at Shutters on the Beach, a Santa Monica luxury venue, for $521, courtsey of Mesa West Capital, LLC. The same month she bedded down at Manhattan’s Andaz, thanks to LaSalle Investment Management, which picked up the trip’s $1200 tab. In May it was back to the East Coast, where Long Wharf Real Estate Partners put up Hamrick at the Boston Harbor Hotel, for a total trip cost of $2267.

In an August 7 email explaining Hamrick’s travel, pension system communications manager Jessica Packard wrote, “Part of her responsibilities include attending Advisory Committee meetings as an Advisory Committee member for SDCERS. Her travel expenses are paid for by the General Partner as outlined in the investment contract with each of the General Partners that we are invested with.”

Continues the email, “These travel expenses have been approved by the San Diego Ethics Commission and are reported through the filing of Form 801. The benefit to SDCERS comes from Jamie meeting directly with the General Partner, interacting with fellow Advisory Committee members, and being able to give direction to the General Partner on various issues as they arise.”

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Comments
4

This is the sort of thing expected of a manager who is responsible for deploying those funds in the most astute manner. That she is looking closely at the general partners and serving on an advisory committee is a good thing. And it's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.

It can be argued that she's not dissipating assets of the fund on this travel, in that the partners of the fund manager are picking up the tab. Has she ever considered paying her own way? But she's on a slippery slope here, in that those wonderful trips to special destinations can have an effect on one's judgement. There are some agencies and corporations that will not permit its officers or employees from accepting any favors at any time or in any situation. They would regard such travel as favors, or worse, as thinly disguised kickbacks. But all's well at city hall, isn't it?

Sept. 2, 2015

Uh, County of San Diego people: feel free to have "investment officer" Jamie invite the Europe Capital Fund people to come to San Diego. If they want San Diego's retirement funds, let them come and make their own case to a team of County finance people. Sit in an office, around a conference table, in the County Building (it has some beautiful views) with several staffers present. Maybe go to lunch together, just to be hospitable. Any junket paid for by a client will cost taxpayers a bundle down the line.

Sept. 2, 2015

This involved the pension funds of the City of San Diego, not the county. But the same thing could be accomplished from the plush high-rise offices occupied by the top level of city bureaucrats.

Sept. 2, 2015

Whoops, yes, read that wrong. City not County. Junkets to the left of us, junkets to the right of us. Who wants to control it? It might interfere his next trip.

Sept. 4, 2015

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