Dr. David Bronner has been at the helm of the Retirement Systems of Alabama for more than 40 years. As Chief Executive Officer, he oversees the public pension fund, which has assets exceeding $24 billion. The RSA provides benefits for more than 325,000 public employees and retirees, and is ranked in the top 125 of all private/public pension funds in the world. In June, the RSA announced one of its key funds, the Employees Retirement System (ERS), which is the second largest managed by the agency, grew by $567 million since the start of 2014.
Dr. Bronner is obviously doing something right, although he is quick to share the credit in this instance, saying state lawmakers who provide funding to the ERS are doing what they should to make sure the fund stays healthy. In a report to the ERS Board, Dr. Bronner said:
You’ve got to put in what the actuaries say or else you have to cut back costs and cut back the programs. We’ve done that here in Alabama. Other states allowed their governors or their legislatures not to send over enough money and that’s where they got into trouble.
Dr. Bronner provides a weekly investment update to the entire ERS board. The controlling boards of the RSA and the Employees and Teachers Retirement System Boards of Control make investment policy, while Dr. Bronner, the Secretary Treasurer and RSA staff make investment decisions. The board can make changes to policies and procedures, but the day-to-day investment decision-making largely falls to Dr. Bronner, who oversees all operations.
Dr. Bronner obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees at Mankato State University (now Minnesota State University, Mankato), in Mankato, Minnesota. From 1967 to 1969, he was an instructor in the School of Business and Finance at Mankato State. Dr. Bronner then entered the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, where he earned his law degree in 1971 and a Ph.D. in 1972. He taught in the Graduate Schools of Business and Education and served as Assistant Dean and Lecturer in the School of Law before taking his present job with the RSA in 1973.
High-profile investments to help Alabama thrive are a hallmark of Dr. Bronner’s leadership at RSA, including office buildings in Montgomery, Mobile and New York and the development of eight luxurious hotels and conference centers in Alabama. Other investments include Raycom Media, with 46 TV stations, and Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc., with more than 160 newspapers that provide free advertising for the state of Alabama.
But if you ask him, Dr. Bronner will tell you he’s most proud of the development of Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, a renowned collection of 26 championship golf courses at 11 sites that has put Alabama at the top of the list of golf destinations worldwide and helped increase tourism from a $1.8 billion industry to a $9.6 billion industry.
I can say without reservation that David Bronner is one of the smartest and well-versed individuals with whom I have dealt over the years. He has truly been great for Alabama. He has had his critics, but Dr. Bronner has been able to win all of the battles thus far. Most of those battles have been “political” and without merit. Dr. Bronner’s efforts over the years have blessed Alabama and all of the state’s citizens.
Sources: WSFA and the RSA Advisor