To administer the retirement benefit plan for government employees, elected public officials and retirees as mandated by law in a professional and prudent manner; to manage the Retirement Fund assets and to maximize investment returns.
The Employees' Retirement System of the Government of the Virgin Islands (GERS), enacted by the Third Legislature of the Virgin Islands on June 24, 1959 by Act 479, was created as a defined benefit pension plan for officials and employees of the Government of the Virgin Islands, and for their dependents and beneficiaries, for the payment of retirement annuities, disability annuities and other benefits. It is today one of the oldest pension systems under the American flag.
The statutory mandate of GERS is to enroll government employees within thirty (30) days of service as a condition of their employment. The objective is to encourage employees that are employed by the government to remain with the Government by establishing an orderly means whereby members who become superannuated or incapacitated as a result of disability, may retire without suffering economic hardship.
Originally combined with the Division of Personnel, GERS, through legislation in June 1987, became an independent quasi agency of the Government of the Virgin Islands responsible for its operation which is governed by a Board of Trustees.
Today, GERS serves over 8,200 retirees and pensioners and a little more than 11,000 active members. It is estimated that GERS has served approximately 22,000 members since operations began in 1959.
Considered one of the most significant investments of the GERS, on June 30, 1993, the System purchased the Havensight Shopping Mall for $32 million. Recently, the value of this property has been appraised at 66.6 million. The Havensight Shopping Mall, which sits on the WICO property, is a premier tourist destination in St. Thomas and is referred by many as the "Gem of the Caribbean."
Other real estate investments include the GERS Complex on St. Thomas, which is GERS' principal location for business. Our tenants are the Division of Personnel, the Department of Justice, Rescare (Job Corps) and FirstBank Virgin Islands (ATM). GERS also owns an additional 2.9 acres located at Parcels No. 5 and 6 Estate Orange Grove, St. Croix, which houses the St. Croix Branch Office and the Casino Control Commission. The new St. Croix Complex was completed August 2010 and dedicated on October 1, 2010, the 51st anniversary of the System. It houses a 22,000 square foot two-story building which augments the existing facilities now located on the site.
In late 2006, GERS purchased 120 acres of land at Estates Hoffman and Nullyberg on St. Thomas and in October 2010 purchased 170 acres of land at Estate Coakley Bay on St. Croix. These purchases were made primarily as an additional real estate investment for our members.
The GERS' Fund Portfolio is managed with the specific goal to grow the assets to meet its pension liability and ensure a reliable cash flow that provides for the funding requirements of near-term pension obligations. GERS is committed to a disciplined investment strategy that focuses on long-term results. The Fund is presently managed by eleven (11) investment managers, namely:
- Brandywine Global Investment Management, LLC
- Fisher Investments Institutional Group
- LSV Asset Management
- Mesirow Financial
- Pacific Investment Management Company, LLC
- Union Heritage Capital Management
- The Attilanus Fund I - LP
- Pugh Capital Management
- Smith Graham & Co.
- Walter Scott Investment Mgmt.
The Fund's custodian is the State Street Bank and Trust Company. Trading Partners, Inc. is the Fund's transition manager and Meketa Investment Group provides investment consulting and analytical support to the Board of Trustees.
In addition to providing regular retirement benefits, GERS also provides personal, auto, land and mortgage loans to qualified members and retirees, a service that GERS is proud to provide to its members. This service also benefits GERS, as the loan portfolio brings in revenues of approximately $10 million annually in interest income.
GERS remains committed to providing quality, reliable service to its members and as such, recently implemented a comprehensive retirement system software solution known as "V3". The implementation of this software merged GERS' current benefits and loan administration systems into a state-of-the-art web-based business solution that provides the technical foundation to enable and sustain the business agility of GERS. Another realized goal is the full integration with the central government and other government instrumentalities that interface with the GERS. Once fully implemented, GERS' customer service capabilities will be greatly enhanced through the ability of V3 to facilitate electronic web-based transactions and communications.
The Employees' Retirement System of the Government of the Virgin Islands has been an integral part of our community and continues to play a major role in contributing to the enhanced lifestyles and future endeavors of its members.