Top state investment officials receive bonuses in excess of $600,000

Top officials with the state’s investment board received bonuses well in excess of $600,000, according to figures released by the board Wednesday.

David Villa, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board’s chief investment officer, received a bonus of more than $660,000 — exceeding his base salary of $415,000 — while SWIB Executive Director Michael Williamson had the second largest incentive compensation bump at $648,643, more than double his $270,000 base level salary.

SWIB announced late Friday that the bonuses had been approved, but did not distribute them to staff until Wednesday.

The incentive pay is based on the $2.68 billion added to the Wisconsin Retirement System past benchmark levels over the last five years. A total of $13.3 million was distributed to staff based on calculations tied to the value added beyond investment performance benchmarks.

The bonuses are spread among all SWIB staff, ranging from the $660,378 for Villa to $1,245 for a junior corporate governance analyst. While SWIB caps incentive pay of certain employees, those caps aren’t necessarily limited to a percentage of salary, according to SWIB spokeswoman Vicki Hearing. Instead, salary is one of the factors considered when capping those incentive pay packages.

Hearing added that despite the size of the bonuses, SWIB actually saves money by paying more to internal employees for services that were formerly contracted out to external fund managers. Hearing said 60 percent of SWIB funds are managed internally, but those staff costs comprised only 14 percent of management costs.

See the SWIB incentives