New York mayor names Indian American for pension oversight

August 3rd, 2010 - 2:52 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, Aug 3 (IANS) Concerned over New York’s spiralling pension costs, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has tapped Ranji Nagaswami, an Indian American finance expert, as the city’s first ever chief investment adviser.

Nagaswami will be the “full-time, central advisor to the Mayor’s trustees on the five New York City retirement system boards and the New York City Deferred Compensation Plan Board”, the mayor’s office said Monday.

“We are extremely fortunate to have someone of Ranji’s deep experience, talent and record of success in managing major investments across assets classes agree to be our Chief Investment Advisor,” said Bloomberg.

“The cost to City taxpayers of the pension systems is growing at an astronomical rate, from $1.1 billion in 2001 to an expected $7.6 billion this year, which is more than 10 percent of the entire city budget,” he added.

“We will continue to pursue the reforms desperately needed in Albany to reduce the unmanageable costs of pension benefits, while at the same time working to ensure we are getting best possible returns on pension fund investments and looking at every option.”

India born Nagaswami came to the US in 1984 to attend business school at Yale University.

She most recently worked at AllianceBernstein, where she was chief investment officer, overseeing $100 billion in assets and management. After 10 years at the company she left the job in February 2009.

Nagaswami lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, so the administration secured a waiver that will enable her to work for the city.

Bloomberg has repeatedly pointed to mounting pension costs as a financial drain on the city. In a radio address Friday, he noted that the city’s pension contributions have grown from $1.1 billion when he took office to $7.6 billion this fiscal year.

Nagaswami’s experience is limited to the private sector, but she told the Wall Street Journal her clients were almost all public pension funds and central banks.

“Governments have been my most important clients in my 23-plus years” in the workforce, she said.

“My job is to work with the mayor’s trustees,” she said. “It is a very, very important role for the mayor to shape the policy decisions that are made within these funds.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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