WASHINGTON — The New America Alliance, an advocacy group whose goal is to increase business for financial firms run by Hispanic-Americans, is encouraging public and corporate defined benefit plans to hire more Latino vendors, money managers and traders.
Martin Cabrera Jr., president of Cabrera Capital Markets, Chicago, a securities trading firm, and president of the Washington-based group, said the organization is planning to talk to officials at CalPERS and is conducting a study of corporate pension systems to determine how much in assets they allocate to minority managers and brokers. According to the preliminary findings, of the total assets of the top 10 corporate pension plans in the United States, only about three-tenths of 1% also go to minority firms.
Two plans that are receptive to the alliance's initiative are the $32.7 billion Teachers Retirement System of Illinois, Springfield, and the $10.7 billion Illinois State Board of Investments, Chicago, Mr. Cabrera said. Last year, the Alliance lobbied state politicians to form the Illinois Select Senate Committee, a subcommittee to investigate ways of helping minority firms get business from the state. The group also assisted the State Board of Investments in setting minority manager and broker hiring goals. Also, due in part to the efforts of the alliance, the Teachers board set a policy last year to discuss at each meeting ways to hire minority managers. "Behind the scenes, we've actually been working with elected officials and pension executives in Illinois for the past two and a half years," said Mr. Cabrera.
Jon Bauman, executive director at the Illinois Teachers fund, said the Alliance helped influence the fund's upcoming developing manager program. He added the concept of the program will be presented to the plan's board for approval at its next board meeting, and that no details have been decided yet.
"I think the NAA really has been a positive force in Illinois and in other states. They've raised awareness and participation in the investment programs by minority managers and brokerage firms. We've realized that some of those firms were out there but did not have the chance to participate (in searches) because they could not get past the consultants because they were small."