The economic shock wave, which started in December 2007 but became resoundingly clear to investors and homeowners in October 2008, still is having an effect in Jacksonville’s firefighter pension fund.
On Friday, the Jacksonville Firemen’s Pension Fund board got its latest financial figures about how well the pension fund’s investments are performing.
Brent Haughaboo, first vice president of Morgan Stanley/Smith Barney of Little Rock, along with company financial planner Erin Eason provided board members with an update about the fund’s performance.
According to figures presented to the board, the fund has $7.61 million that is used to pay the retirement benefits of city firefighters and survivors.
Five years ago, on July 31, 2007, the fund stood at $9.12 million.
The city’s firemen pension fund started in October 1989 and had a balance of $569,806. The fund kept growing during the subsequent years and reached $6.63 million in July 2002, according to the Morgan Stanley/Smith Barney financial figures.
According to figures submitted to the board, the $9.12 million figure was the fund’s height. The fund’s second-highest amount came in the period ending July 2011 when the fund had $8.1 million.
Eason said Jacksonville is not unique in trying to deal with the stock market’s ups and downs.
Eason said the city pays out retirement benefits from the fund annually at about $350,000 to retired firefighters and survivors entitled to receiving benefits.
The pension board voted to follow Haughaboo’s recommendation and consolidate about $1 million worth of the pension funds investments into one account spread over about 30 different types of investments. Before the vote, the city had invested those funds in seven different accounts in about seven different types of investments.
Haughaboo said he recommended the change to make it easier for the firm to better watch the investments.
Haughaboo added that the he planned on investing the revenues in investment funds that look for safety to protect them from too much loss while putting them into places that also yield income.
"Everybody remembers how good the stock market was in the 1990s," Haughaboo said. "I started in this business in May 2000 when it started to decline and during the second worst 10-year period in the history of the stock market."
Haughaboo said experiencing the downturn has made him better at his job.
"You had better have a very good defense because defense is the way of making money in the long term," Haughaboo said.
Haughaboo added that the market is jittery because of the economic uncertainty that is taking place in Europe.
He added as the federal government keeps printing more paper money it could result in inflation in the future.
According to second-quarter financial report provided to the board, the fund had a net decrease of $202,609 during that quarter of 2012. Following that report, the board voted to withdraw $145,000 to help cover payouts to retirees and their survivors through the rest of this year and into early 2013.
Fire Chief John Vanderhoof, who is a member of the board, said his judgment is that a $7.5 million fund balance remains a good amount.