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FS Investments exec Michael Gerber joins federal retirement plan board

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An executive with an asset management firm that specializes in alternative investments will be joining the board that oversees the federal government’s retirement program.

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Michael Gerber, senior managing director and chief corporate affairs officer at FS Investments, for a position on the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. The board administers the Thrift Savings Plan, a defined-contribution plan for federal employees and military service personnel.

The TSP is the nation’s largest retirement fund, covering about 6.2 million workers and holding about $736 billion in assets at the end of 2020. Given its size, the TSP’s investment decisions can influence retirement savings trends. Beginning this summer, the TSP will offer environmental, social and governance funds to its participants.

One of Gerber’s roles at FS Investments is to manage its ESG initiatives. Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa. and ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, who backed Gerber’s nomination, has questioned whether ESG investing hurts federal retirement savers.

“Mike Gerber is exceptionally well-qualified to serve on the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board based on his career in asset management and experience as a trustee of a major public pension system,” Toomey said in a statement. “Having known Mike personally for a number of years, I have seen firsthand his open-mindedness and constructive approach to problem solving. I am confident that he will be a valued member of the board, and I congratulate him on his confirmation.”

Gerber, who’s a former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and a former trustee of the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System, was nominated by President Biden in November.

He received bipartisan support from his home state Senate delegation.

“As a longtime civic leader in Pennsylvania and former state representative, Mike’s extensive experience in both the public and private sector will allow him to serve the American people honorably as a member of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board,” Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., said in a statement.

Gerber said he’s looking forward to the TSP board opportunity.

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to serve the American people and President Biden, with whom I have been fortunate to share a long-standing family relationship, as a member of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board,” Gerber said in a statement. “I am grateful to have had the bipartisan support throughout this process of both of my home state senators and friends, Senators Casey and Toomey, both of whom are model Senators who have earned the respect of their colleagues and live up to the highest ideals of public service. I look forward to working with my board colleagues, FRTIB’s dedicated staff, the administration and Congress to ensure the millions of TSP participants and beneficiaries have the best-in-class retirement plan experience they deserve.”

While Republican senators are skeptical about ESG investing for retirement, the Department of Labor is exploring how it can protect retirement savings from risks posed by climate change. The TSP could be buffeted by ESG winds in both directions.