Ash Williams is the Executive Director and CIO of the Florida State Board of Administration, where he oversees $200 billion in assets for the State of Florida including one of the largest public pension funds in the U.S. He is as highly regarded as they come, and among other accolades, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from CIO Magazine in 2017.
Ash began his career serving the State of Florida as a staff assistant to two House speakers, as Chief of Staff to a former Governor and Comptroller of the State, and as Executive Director of the SBA. He left for a decade on Wall Street and returned after the global financial crisis to help resurrect the state’s assets.
Our conversation covers Ash’s early experience in Florida legislature, the SBA in the 1990s, moving from the public sector to Wall Street, and returning in the thick of the financial crisis. We discuss many aspects of managing a large pools of assets, including a six-year effort to modernize the compensation scheme, asset allocation, blending active and passive managers and internal and external fund management, managing around political interests, communicating expectations and transparency, character, proxy voting, private equity, hedge funds, and the process of selecting managers.