New Jersey Pension Hires Deputy Director

Seal of New Jersey

New Jersey’s Division of Investment, the department that manages assets for the state’s pension systems, has hired Corey Amon as its new deputy director. From Chief Investment Officer:

The New Jersey Division of Investment has hired a deputy director to help manage $80 billion in state pension fund assets.

Corey Amon joins the fund from the corporate pension world. He has spent the last three years in Miami as assistant treasurer of Ryder System, a Fortune 500 trucking and logistics company. But Amon spent the bulk of his career to date as an asset manager. From 1995 through 2011, he worked at a BMO Global Asset Management division called Taplin, Canida & Habacht.

Amon’s first day at the pension’s Trenton offices is set for October 20, a treasury department spokesperson told CIO. He will report to and work closely with Chris McDonough, the fund’s director and #77 on this year’s Power 100 list. McDonough said he and the team are “delighted to have Corey joining the division of investment.”

McDonough noted Amon “has nearly 20 years of investment experience,” including service as a fiduciary. “We expect him to play an intricate role in all aspects of portfolio and operations management at the division,” the director concluded.

Despite its massive size and consistent outperformance, New Jersey’s pension fund has struggled to hold onto its top investment staff. Its pay packages are thin even by public fund standards, and offer no incentives for performance.

McDonough, for example, earns a $185,000 salary, according to public records.

Amon was previously Assistant Treasurer at Ryder System, Inc. Before that, he was the Director of Research at Taplin, Canida & Habacht where he managed a fixed income portfolio.

Advisors Question Hedge Fund Fee Structure

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In light of CalPERS’ recent pullback from hedge funds, scores of investment consultants are coming out of the woodwork advocating for changes to the “2 and 20” fee structure traditionally used by hedge funds.

Towers Watson research chief Damien Loveday told the Wall Street Journal yesterday:

“We believe a better way of tackling fees is by assessing the skill managers offer to clients, rather than paying for market-based returns. ‘Two and 20’ should not be the norm.”

Kerrin Rosenberg, an executive at the consulting firm Cardano, shared the sentiment:

“If ever there was a moment to get rid of ‘two and 20’ forever, this is it.” He backed Towers Watson’s initiative, noting that many hedge funds were out to survive, rather than prosper.

Just because consultants think one way doesn’t mean pension funds will think the same. But it’s important to note that these firms frequently advise pension funds on investment decisions—so it’s safe to say the funds are hearing the same anti-fee sentiment that we are.

Last week, a major Dutch pension fund shut out hedge funds and cited one reason: the fees. From the Wall Street Journal:

Last week, PMT, the Dutch pension fund with €56 billion ($71.7 billion) under management, said it would close its €1 billion hedge fund portfolio, adding that although hedge funds were only about 2% of assets, they collected 32% of the investment fees it paid.

A spokeswoman for the fund said: “The hedge fund investments were expensive if you relate the cost to what the funds delivered. We found that we did earn from hedge funds, but we did not earn enough versus the risks and the costs.”

To be fair, it seems hedge funds have budged just a bit from the “2 and 20” scheme. According to Preqin data, fees have fallen to around 1.5 percent of assets and 18.7 percent of performance.

New Jersey Lawmaker Pushes For Stricter Pay-To-Play Rules For Pension Investments

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SEC rules prevent pension funds from investing with firms that have made political contributions to politicians with any control over the pension fund’s investment decisions.

But a New Jersey Senator wants the state to go even further. Reported by

The law that restricts the state pension fund from investing in firms whose investment managers make political contributions to New Jersey candidates should be expanded to include donations to national political groups, a legislator said Wednesday.

Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, announced her intentions to broaden the state’s pay-to-play law a day after the Division of Investment confirmed the pension system had sold its stake in a venture capital fund with ties to a Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate who donated to the New Jersey GOP.


When the pension system approves an alternative investment — including venture capital firms and hedge funds — those firms are required to fill out disclosures listing the managers of the particular fund New Jersey is investing with and whether those individuals have made political contributions. But the state’s conflict of interest law does not cover political donations to groups outside New Jersey, like the Republican Governors Association, which Governor Christie heads.

“The method of investment should be selected based on performance and merit, not because of campaign contributions and investments should be made in the best interests of our retirees,” said Turner, whose district includes a significant number of state workers, said Wednesday in a statement. “There shouldn’t be even the appearance of political favorites.”

This is a hot-button issue in New Jersey. One union, the New Jersey AFL-CIO, filed an ethics complaint last week asking whether political donations have influence pension investments.

The issue was also raised at the meeting of the State Investment Council on Tuesday.


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