NEW YORK--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--California’s City of Oakland Police & Fire Retirement System recently selected emerging fixed income manager Ramirez Asset Management, Inc., to run its approximately $40 million domestic core fixed income portfolio for its pension fund. The announcement comes on the heels of a string of new mandates for minority-owned Ramirez, which is gaining momentum in the institutional marketplace as a leader in managing fixed income portfolios.
“We have the expertise and flexibility to deliver fixed income strategies that can help firms fill gaps in their overall portfolios and capitalize on any macro-economic environment.”
In November, Ramirez Asset Management (RAM) was awarded with a $25 million dedicated municipal portfolio by a large institutional public entity. RAM was also allocated $55 million to its Strategic Core strategy as part of a large institutional manager’s external manager program as a sub-adviser for one of their larger institutional clients.
Founded in 2002, the New York City-headquartered firm has increased its assets by an average of 25 percent each year over the past five years, growing to $1.6 billion in assets under management as of November 30, 2016. RAM's diverse institutional client base includes public and private defined benefit and defined contribution plans, Taft Hartley plans, corporations, state and local governments, as well as foundations and endowments. RAM’s strong risk-adjusted performance, seasoned team and time-tested team approach across its Core strategies are also attracting attention from pension and investment fund consultants, and manager-of managers programs.
The firm was named the 2015 Fixed Income Manager of the Year by Emerging Manager Monthly1 based on performance and asset growth. The team's sector allocation and security selection process has historically resulted in strong risk-adjusted results while utilizing the broad asset classes of the Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate Index, including corporates, municipals, and securitized products. RAM's allocation to taxable municipal bonds is also a competitive advantage, as the firm likes the performance and high credit quality of the asset class versus other fixed income sectors.
"Taxable municipals have been one of the best-performing asset classes over the last several years and have provided positive diversification benefits and low correlations with other fixed income sectors," said Samuel Ramirez, Jr., RAM’s founder, president and CEO, who has more than 25 years of investment management experience across a range of asset classes, including municipal, corporate and government bonds.
Ramirez Core Strategies
The Strategic Core strategy, for example, has returned 5.71 percent for the three years ending September 30, 2016, versus the 4.03 percent return for its benchmark, the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index. The strategy ranks in the top 11 percent of its eVestment U.S. Core Plus category for that time period.
RAM's Core strategy ranks in the top 16 percent of its eVestment U.S. Core category. The Core strategy also outpaced its benchmark for the three years ending September 30, 2016, returning 4.94 percent versus the Barclay U.S. Bond Index's 4.03 percent.
RAM has more than $835 million in assets across these and other Core strategies, which invest in a pool of bonds with 0-to-30-year maturities. The asset manager also has strategies that invest primarily in bonds with 0-to-10-year maturities. In addition, RAM develops niche strategies up and down the yield curve based on client-specific mandates inside larger portfolios, such as cash, short-duration and long-duration strategies.
“We tailor our strategies to meet the investment mandates of our clients,” said Ramirez. “We have the expertise and flexibility to deliver fixed income strategies that can help firms fill gaps in their overall portfolios and capitalize on any macro-economic environment.”
Ramirez is also one of a handful of emerging and minority and/or women-owned business enterprise (MWBE) firms with a five-year track record in managing defined contribution assets. The firm is a leader in promoting the benefits of emerging and MWBE firms in the defined contribution market and views this as an area for future growth. As retirement plan sponsors move away from a mutual fund-oriented marketplace, emerging firms that specialize in separately managed account mandates such as Ramirez, should be able to realize a larger foothold in this space.
The Ramirez Approach
RAM’s investment team includes seasoned portfolio managers Louis A. Sarno and Helen Yee, CFA, both previously at Amalgamated Bank’s fixed income department. Mr. Sarno oversaw $11 billion in investments as that firm's Chief Investment Officer of Institutional Trust & Custody Department, and Ms. Yee formerly served as Director of Fixed Income there.
The team-based approach means that RAM's investment professionals employ a disciplined and repeatable process that combines top-down macroeconomic analysis with bottom-up issuer-level research. The firm manages risk by taking a long-term view on investing and keeping tight controls on duration, and seeks to generate alpha across market cycles through sector allocation, security selection, and subsector rotation. A heavy reliance on qualitative and quantitative research, combined with a strong risk management culture, is also a hallmark of RAM.
RAM continues to make its mark among institutional decision-makers by speaking to industry groups such as the National Association of Securities Professionals and the National Association of State Treasurers on the dynamic bond market and by remaining actively engaged on industry issues.
"As the institutional marketplace evolves, we believe that our consistent returns coupled with our deep expertise and flexibility will distinguish us from other fixed income managers," said Ramirez. "We're thrilled that our growing list of institutional clients already recognizes the impact this difference can have on their portfolios."
About Ramirez Asset Management
Founded in 2002 and headquartered in New York City, registered investment adviser Ramirez Asset Management (RAM) is affiliated with Samuel A. Ramirez & Co., one of the oldest and best-capitalized minority-owned investment banks in the U.S. and a leader in the fixed income market. With $1.6 billion in assets as of November 30, 2016, RAM is focused on fixed income asset management for a diverse institutional client base, including blue-chip public and private defined benefit and defined contribution plans, Taft Hartley plans, corporations, state and local governments, as well as foundations and endowments.
1 10th annual Emerging Manager Awards, by Emerging Manager Monthly, a publication of Financial Investment News.