CalPERS Sucks Customer Reviews and Feedback

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The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) is an agency in the California executive branch that "manages pension and health benefits for more than 1.6 million California public employees, retirees, and their families". In the fiscal year 2012–13, CalPERS paid over $12.7 billion in retirement benefits, and in the fiscal year 2013, it is estimated that CalPERS will pay over $7.5 billion in health benefits.

CalPERS leadership communication is dishonest, it has a toxic working environment, its overstaffed, and employees are mistreated, according to a review by a former employee at

"Communication from senior leadership is often dishonest, what they say is rarely actual reasons. Challenging assignments are given to consultants. Division leaders, especially fixed income, scream, and bully staff. Way overstaffed. Culture is one of backstabbing like gangsters, loyalty to own team, and doing whatever to advance self."


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Accountant Trainee (Current Employee) says

"Work-life balance"

Executive Secretary I (Former Employee) says

"It's all about who you know... it has changed over the years. CalPERS has issues with discrimination and employees managing that are not managers and without proper training. Cons: Discrimination, poor management"

Training Officer (Current Employee) says

"CalPERS is a good state agency. Work culture is good for employees. Trainers have no way to advance other than to become a manager. They do a good job there regarding work and health well being. Lots of ways to stay healthy there including an on campus gym."

STAFF SERVICES ANALYST (Current Employee) says

"Loved it but it's very hard for anyone in the admin field to advance. You cannot promote in place. Other state entities will let you do that but you cannot in the Investment Office."

Current Employee - Investment Officer II says

"I have been working at CalPERS full-time for more than 5 years Cons: - promotions not always merit, seem to take advantage of the hardest working people and politics more important. - managers are often the weak link for getting important tasks done. There is also a striking difference between the work effort managers expect of themselves versus junior staff (most take advantage of 4 hours a day versus expect junior staff to work 10+ hours a day, especially during COVID). - It has become a true Office parody; what company needs two co-CIOs??? Oh, and somehow not enough in the budget to approve a few more IO 3 or IO 2 positions so junior staff can get promotions without waiting 8 - 10 years."

Current Employee - Investment Officer says

"I have been working at CalPERS full-time for more than 5 years Cons: What can I say, a current board member was accused of sexual harassment and never fired. The board has made many poor political decisions that has led to the increased unfunded status that is projected to worsen over time. Leadership makes political decisions, i.e. the fund lost $9 billion in divesting from tobacco. Decisions like that are made without doing appropriate scenario analysis or impact to returns of the fund. Executive staff doesn't seem to understand basic math as allocation to the different asset classes and their expected returns never seem to enter the formula otherwise they would see they can't reach the expected rate of return. Duh. There is no openness in the decision making process and staff is often lied to by management about what is going on. Current leadership seems incapable of handling negative P.R. There is no accountability in those who are making investment decision either. CalPERS has high standards for external managers but if we rated ourselves as an investment manager, it would be laughable. Be prepared to be dismissed by the CIO and COO. They treat lower staff like they are idiots and annoyances to be rid of which is why it is not a surprise at the open committee when they discuss "talent management", it is only manager level positions they talk about. It is ridiculous for an Investment Officer I position, they expect 3- 5 years of industry experience while your manager more than likely doesn't have the demanded level of skill, education, or knowledge (my experience). The majority of asset class leadership is so toxic, good luck ever getting a promotion. The INVO department heads fight with each other about what positions will go where. So if you work in an asset class that management doesn't like or is politically hot, sorry, your promotion opportunities are swiped from you and given to another team. This is why people get stuck at IO 1 and IO 2 positions for years...and years. However, if the CIO likes you, he will allow for a whole new department for his favored person to lead even though there is no analysis on how this new asset will impact overall fund return or actual investment opportunities. Further, CalPERS loves to create committees that serve NO purpose or actually produce anything that goes into a decision. This wastes hours of professional time with pointless meetings where extra work is created for no purpose. CalPERS loves to talk about Core Values but the top leadership doesn't have the human capability of demonstrating them. I find it very sad that as a lower level employee, how much I care about providing and safeguarding retirement for public employees while executives and leadership do not care at all. I really think either the board structure needs to change in requiring a minimum level of investment knowledge or actual accountability of decision makers to have alignment of interest with fund returns."

Former Employee - Anonymous Employee says

"I worked at CalPERS full-time for more than 10 years Cons: Communication from senior leadership is often dishonest, what they say is rarely actual reasons. Challenging assignments given to consultants. Division leaders, especially fixed income, scream and bully staff. Key skill is networking. Way overstaffed. Culture is one of backstabbing like gangsters, loyalty to own team and doing whatever to advance self."

Current Employee - Anonymous Employee says

"I have been working at CalPERS full-time Cons: Non-Modern Autocratic and/or Military type of Management style dominates at all levels of management at CalPERS. Management at all levels are low-skilled, do not demonstrate professionalism or have a normal management education background or experience for their level of the position they obtained. Questionable hiring practices include “reclassifying” a favored employees position classification without requiring them to compete in “State classification” examinations. Many workers promoted or hired do not have a related college degree or meet K.S.A. job posting qualifications. Calpers does not demonstrate equal opportunity for all and is biased toward favoritism, nepotism and special interests. Hiring, training and promotion practices are often arbitrary and not equal. HR is low skilled and does not follow employment regulations. Getting another job at another State of CA agency is not easy or fast as expected. Contracted pay terms are not always honored. The employee environment can be described as bullying, retaliatory or negative. There is pervasive perfectionism, false witnessing, high production expectations. Employees are over-stressed and unhealthy. Co-workers, human resources and management all contribute to making the work environment hostile and non-team orientated. Most of the managers will be there for decades to achieve their pension, control, power or money, so the environment will not likely change for the better soon. This organization allows too much power at the Unit level management level, which appear unaccountable for their actions. This organization is not employee orientated, fair or ethical. Some workers stated it is like being in a prison and they don’t like how they hand pick people for positions. Calpers hires too many contractors/consultants who get to do the more interesting, challenging or creative work leaving the State worker with non-challenging tasks. There is an excessive management to staff ratio. The work environments tends not to be team orientated and too many are chasing the few growth career opportunities. I have many years of work experience at Calpers, a State of CA government agency with strong K.S.A.’s and not recommending employment there."


"I worked at CalPERS Cons: A high degree of nepotism and ageism exist at CalPERS. This wasn’t always the case but it has become so. There have been too many reorganizations which leads to low morale. CalPERS was once a “destination” employer, but not anymore. If you are older and experienced, you may find promotions hard to get. CalPERS says it promotes employees, but actually has a track record of promoting a lot from the outside, which also led to decreased morale."

Former Employee - Anonymous Employee says

"I worked at CalPERS full-time Cons: Management ignores suggestion for improvement, favortism, boring job, cant be fired so lackk of work motivation"

Former Employee - Staff Services Manager says

"I worked at CalPERS full-time for more than a year Cons: Outside of the Investment Office, the work environment and cultural climate can be extremely toxic and cut-throat. The Ethics Helpline is used/abused as a weapon by employees against coworkers and management. The administrative side is loaded with waste, very little emphasis is placed on stewardship of the pension fund's assets."

Former Employee - Research Analyst says

"I worked at CalPERS full-time for more than a year Cons: Tuition reimbursement is a lie."

Former Employee - Investment Officer says

"I worked at CalPERS full-time for more than 3 years Cons: Pay at the junior levels is sub-par, and promotional opportunities are more tenure and luck-based (right time, right place) than merit-based. Not much effort to retain or groom junior staff. Overall a very overstaffed and bloated structure due to being a state agency."

Former Employee - Anonymous Employee says

"I worked at CalPERS full-time Cons: No accountability for upper management and low to mid-level management is overworked and . If you operate outside of your title, you get written up or reprimanded. You call someone out for not doing their job correctly, same deal. If you attempt to do your job by the core values and you offend someone because you aren't doing it "their" way, be prepared for actions to be taken against you. No upward mobility. Union protections also only go so far." is a non-profit organization and communications forum for social activism. This website allows users a voice to share their point of view online about what sucks in the world.

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