Edward Ramos has joined the New Jersey Division of Investment, which manages investments for the New Jersey Pension Fund, Trenton, as its first diversity portfolio manager, a role designed to expand the hiring of minority- and women-owned businesses as external managers and other financial professionals.
Mr. Ramos, with more than two decades of investment management experience, started work Oct. 13, reporting directly to Corey Amon, director of the division of investment. He was chosen following a national search initiated in early 2020, said Jennifer Sciortino, a spokeswoman for the state Department of the Treasury.
In an interview, Mr. Ramos, 53, said his goal is to "expand the net" of fund managers, consultants, brokers and advisers for the $81.3 billion New Jersey Pension Fund, Trenton.
About 70% of the New Jersey Pension Fund's assets is managed internally, so Mr. Ramos is focusing on the 30% of externally managed assets that are alternative investments, such as private equity, private debt, direct real estate and real assets.
Of those externally managed assets, Ms. Sciortino said about 11% of their market value is managed by minority- and women- owned firms.
"We don't have a specific number" for hiring a more diverse group of managers or for having assets managed by them, said Mr. Ramos. "We don't have a set-aside. We can't get caught up in numbers."
Mr. Ramos said he will "do some benchmarking" among other public pension plans to see how their diversity efforts might be applied to New Jersey.
He also will be looking at current managers, consultants and other financial firms doing business with the division to assess their diversity efforts and to "make sure they are aware of our desires."
For the last three years, Mr. Ramos has been a trustee — including serving on the investment committee and the diversity and inclusion committee — and a guest lecturer at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa., his alma mater where he earned a bachelor of science in finance. He received an MBA in finance, accounting and international business from the Columbia Business School.
From 2011 to 2017, he was senior managing director, chief investment officer and a member of the executive leadership team at Cornerstone Capital Management, where he also was lead portfolio manager for global fundamental equities, according to his official biography. Prior to that, he was lead portfolio manager and head of Morgan Stanley Investment Management's focused international and global equities strategies, the biography said.
The creation of a diversity portfolio manager grew out of discussions between division of investment officials with New York City public pension officials at a July 2019 meeting arranged by the National Action Network, a civil rights organization, Ms. Sciortino said.
State officials have "discussed many ways to use the power of the state's purse to create a more equitable business climate," Elizabeth Maher Muoio, the state treasurer, wrote in an email. "We are now at a point where we are seeing many of those discussions bear fruit and the diversity portfolio manager is a key example. Eddie Ramos brings a tremendous amount of experience to the table."
Prior to taking the diversity portfolio manager's job, "I saw some progress taking place," said Mr. Ramos, a long-time New Jersey resident. "I want to add to that momentum."