Gaurav M. Patankar has joined the $1.1 billion Merced County (Calif.) Employees' Retirement Association as its first chief investment officer.
It is a new position. Mr. Patankar, who started July 17, is an advisory board member with the Stanford Research Initiative on Long-Term Investing led by Ashby Monk.
His most recent position was at Bloomberg, where he built out research for alternatives, and emerging markets managers and strategies. Before then, he was an outsourced CIO for a multifamily office, was a managing director and portfolio manager at Boston Co. Asset Management (now Newton Investment Management) and had senior investment positions at the Lockheed Martin Investment Management Co. and Millennium Management.
Mr. Patankar said in a phone interview that "public service has always attracted me. I have always wanted to spend some time in my career in public service since I was a child in India."
He said he has long been particularly focused on finding a "potent investment model for smaller pension plans. Contributing to the evolution of an investment model that marries the creativity and nimbleness of a family office with the governance and due process of a public pension is a worthy challenge."
In a later email, when addressing why he wishes to address challenges related to "access and talent," Mr. Patankar said: "Wall Street can seem a million miles away for smaller cities and counties but at the end of the day it's a relationship driven ecosystem ... I'm excited at the potential of what I can achieve and the impact I can have by bridging years of institutional relationships and investment depth with this system and the needs of its constituents."
He added that over the first six months on the job his priorities will be to "listen and learn" in addition to "leveraging a unique relationship of institutional contacts derived from 20+ years across different but complementary corners of financial services."
Regarding MercedCERA's asset allocation, Mr. Patankar said two measurable goals in the short term are added depth and analytical rigor within alternatives and creating a more robust understanding of emerging markets.
The pension fund's current target allocation is 22% domestic equities; 15% private equity; 11% each domestic fixed income and international equities; 10% hedge funds; 8% each emerging markets equities and real estate; and 5% each direct lending, opportunistic credit and real assets.