Meet Seth Magaziner
Seth Magaziner is General Treasurer of the State of Rhode Island, where he is working to expand economic opportunity and financial stability for all Rhode Islanders.
Seth is a native of Bristol, Rhode Island – the most patriotic town in America. Seth began his career as a public elementary school teacher in rural Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. After completing his master’s degree in business administration, Seth moved to Providence and worked as a vice president at Trillium Asset Management, a Boston-based investment firm that specializes in socially responsible investing.
Seth advocated for equal rights for all Rhode Islanders as treasurer of Marriage Equality Rhode Island, and for more ethical government as a board member of Common Cause of Rhode Island, before launching a successful campaign for General Treasurer in 2014.
Since taking office as Treasurer, Seth has helped Rhode Island small businesses by moving millions of dollars of the state’s cash home back home to local Rhode Island community banks and credit unions. He has also revamped the state’s unclaimed property system, reuniting more than 50,000 Rhode Islanders with their missing money.
As co-chair of the Rhode Island school building task force, Seth worked to develop a once-in-a generation plan to repair Rhode Island’s crumbling public school buildings, putting thousands of tradesmen and women to work in the process.
He has worked to strengthen the state’s pension fund, launching a Back to Basics investment plan that has earned more than $1 billion for the pension system.
Seth serves on the board of Crossroads Rhode Island, the state’s largest provider of services to the homeless. He and his wife Julia live in Providence.
Working for Rhode Island
Promoting Economic Growth & Job Creation
Seth’s priority from day one has been using the Treasurer’s office to promote economic growth and job creation in Rhode Island.
Small businesses are the backbone of Rhode Island’s economy, and Seth is supporting the local economy by bringing millions of dollars of the state’s cash back home to Rhode Island community banks and credit unions so they can support small businesses. So far, under his BankLocal initiative, Seth has moved more than $20 million of your money to local banks and credit unions, supporting more than 200 small business loans.
Seth also developed legislation that established new green infrastructure programs at the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank. Today, through these programs, tradesmen and women across the state are earning good wages installing solar panels and wind turbines, and retrofitting fire stations, libraries, and other public buildings to make them more energy efficient. These projects employ Rhode Islanders while helping taxpayers save money on energy costs and reducing our state’s carbon footprint.
A Stronger Pension System
Rhode Island’s teachers, first responders, nurses, and other public employees deserve security in retirement. All Rhode Island taxpayers benefit from having the state pension system managed responsibly.
Since Seth took office in 2015, the pension fund has earned more than $1.6 billion in investment income. In 2016, he launched the Back to Basics investment strategy, which has moved more than $500 million out of hedge funds and into more traditional lower-fee investments. After outperforming its benchmarks and targets for two years in a row, the pension system is stronger now than it has been in years. Seth also led the effort to adopt more realistic and honest accounting assumptions to govern the pension, which significantly strengthens the long-term outlook for the system.
Seth’s Transparent Treasury initiative has made the Rhode Island pension system a national leader in pension transparency. Under Transparent Treasury, Rhode Island now only invests with investment managers that allow their performance and fees to be fully reported on the state treasury website.
Financially Empowering Rhode Island Citizens
Strengthening Rhode Island’s economy doesn’t just mean helping businesses – it also means helping families and everyday citizens meet their daily financial challenges. As Treasurer, Seth has made financially empowering Rhode Islanders a priority.
In 2017, the General Assembly passed Seth’s legislation making Rhode Island the second state in the country to automatically reunite citizens with their Unclaimed Property. Under this program, more than 50,000 Rhode Islanders have been reunited with their missing money, in most cases with no paperwork involved. The average check size was nearly $250.
Higher education is vital to set Rhode Island youth on a path to success, but the cost of college has become daunting for many Rhode Island families. Seth overhauled the CollegeBound program, Rhode Island’s 529 college savings program, to help families save for college. Under his leadership, CollegeBound has gone from one of the lowest ranked 529 plans in the country to one of the highest ranked programs, with low fees and a new menu of high quality investment options.
Rhode Island’s most vulnerable citizens need financial security too. Seth launched the RI’s ABLE program to provide tax efficient banking and savings accounts to Rhode Islanders with disabilities. He also worked with the General Assembly to expand the Crime Victims Compensation Fund to better serve victims of terrorism and domestic violence.
In 2017 Seth established the Financial Empowerment Roundtable, an ongoing series of open meetings in which educators, businesses, nonprofit organizations and everyday citizens come together to form strategies for advancing financial literacy and access to affordable financial services for Rhode Islanders.
Repairing Rhode Island’s Public School Buildings
All children deserve to go to schools that are warm, safe, dry and equipped for 21st century learning. Unfortunately, today, too many Rhode Island school buildings are unsafe and ill-equipped to adequately serve Rhode Island students.
As co-chair of the Rhode Island School Buildings Task Force, Seth championed a plan to make a once in a generation investment repairing Rhode Island’s public schools. The plan, which will be considered by voters on the November ballot, will invest more than $1 billion over the next five years to create the educational spaces that will set students up for success, while putting thousands of tradesmen and women to work in the process.
Advocating for Corporate Responsibility
Prudent management of the pension system includes taking steps to ensure that companies the state invests in engage in responsible business practices that align with long-term shareholder value. Seth has used his platform to pressure some of the nation’s largest companies to adopt more sustainable behavior in the interest of the pension fund and its members.
As Treasurer, Seth has worked with a coalition of investors successfully pushing Wells Fargo to make reforms following their consumer banking scandals, and led a shareholder campaign against student loan giant Navient Corporation over risks associated with the student debt crisis. Seth has also been a leader in successful efforts to push large energy companies to come clean about which political candidates and trade organizations they fund with shareholder money.
Despite strong evidence that companies with diverse leadership teams deliver stronger returns for stockholders, too many companies have failed to appoint women and people of color to their boards of directors. Under Seth’s leadership, Rhode Island no longer votes in favor of board candidate slates that are less than thirty percent diverse.
Rhode Island is now a leader among pension plans using their status as investors to pushing for stronger corporate responsibility and sustainability for pension system members.