Staying Connected
with Our Clients

Q&A with Mark Schafer, Senior Vice President
Institutional Investor Services

October 2016

US public pension funds are in an increasingly challenging environment. For many of our clients, it’s a new retirement reality. Learn how Mark is helping pension fund clients safeguard the future of their plan members.

How do you work with pension funds?
I lead the team responsible for relationships between State Street and pension funds. Our goal is to help them better manage their portfolios and govern risk more effectively. In our recent survey, 95% of the US and Canada public DB fund respondents said they will upgrade at least one of their governance aspects in 2018.* For our clients, that can mean more detailed and more frequent board reporting or revised incentive models. Just to name a few. Those are big overhauls and my job is to help pension funds make those kinds of changes seamlessly.

At the end of the day, I’m here to make sure our clients’ needs are met. My team and I listen to the kinds of challenges they’re having, really dig deep into the questions they’re asking and then work with them to explore what new solutions look like. We’re not just answering questions for the short-term; we’re working together with our clients for their future.

How does technology help bring your clients’ ideas to life?
To make good decisions, businesses need good information. Our approach is to give clients access to all the data they need. It’s an incredibly transparent process because we want to give them the tools they need to make sense of both the big picture and the day-to-day decisions.  

Just as new technologies are constantly emerging, we’re also constantly evaluating and developing new and different ways to bring that data to life for our clients. We are absolutely committed to finding the solutions our clients need – before they even ask.

What’s your career path been at State Street?
I’ve been at State Street for eight years, after previously working at other major financial companies. This is easily the best place I’ve worked. When it comes to our clients, I think they benefit from the stability and perspective of a large company. Our survey showed it’s really something they value. In fact, only 30% of North American public funds believe their institution is very effective at managing operational risks.* On the other hand, I like that I get to work for a company that feels dynamic and entrepreneurial.

It’s a cool place to be.

*State Street 2015 Asset Owner Survey conducted by Longitude Research in October and November 2015, which surveyed 400 senior executives in the pension fund industry. Respondents of the global survey included representatives of public and private pension or retirement systems, and superannuation funds across 20 countries. The quantitative research was supplemented by in-depth interviews with 43 pension industry experts from 13 countries.