The Third Time is the Charm


The Third Time is the Charm

by Oracio Gonzalez, NAA Legislative Consultant & Principal at Ollin Strategies

Transparency is an important effort. Previously, the NAA tried twice before to secure legislation to reimpose and expand the requirement that the California Public Employees Retirement System and the California State Teachers Retirement System collect and annually report to the legislature each funds’ utilization of emerging and diverse managers across all asset classes. Each time, the legislation failed to advance.

In 2021, we took a different approach. We framed the need for the legislation as a direct response to the underinvestment of capital in minority communities that the COVID-19 pandemic so effectively amplified. In communities of color, the historic lack of economic opportunities and investment defaulted entire populations into “essential” work, vastly increasing the incidence of infection, severity, and lethality of the virus.

To reinforce this framework, we built a wide coalition of supporters to submit support letters and testify during committee hearings urging legislators to support the bill. The coalition included our co-sponsor, the Association of Asian American Investment Managers (AAAIM), as well as the National Association of Investment Companies (NAIC), the Greenlining Institute, the National Association of Securities Professionals (NASP), and The Investment Diversity Exchange (TIDE).

On October 4, 2021, the third time proved the charm when Governor Newsom signed AB 890 into law. Our success in California was just the beginning of our effort to create transparency in how pension systems across the county allocate their resources. Ultimately, legislators must have access to the data they need to assess if their pension systems are failing to diversify their manager pool and leaving alpha-generating opportunities to invest with women and diverse managers on the table.

To enhance access to capital for our members, requiring transparency in how pension systems deploy their assets will prove a crucial first step. Using our approach with AB 890 as a model, the Advocacy Committee is now pursuing similar initiatives in other states to secure legislation to require pension systems to collect and report to their respective state legislatures on the extent the funds utilize emerging and diverse managers to invest their assets.

While every state would benefit from transparency legislation, it is unrealistic to pursue a fifty-state strategy given the considerable time and commitment it takes to initiate legislation. Instead, we will target states with similar population profiles to California. Specifically, we are focusing on those states with minority populations of 40% and above.

Based on the results of the most recent bicentennial census, there are sixteen states with minority populations of at least 40%. While it is our goal to secure legislation in all sixteen states, we will first focus our efforts on the states with the highest Hispanic populations. This approach will allow us to leverage the strength and brand of the New America Alliance as the leading Hispanic advocacy entity in the access to capital space. It will also allow us to deploy the same outreach strategy we used to successfully get AB 890 signed into law.

The ultimate goal of securing the support of legislators to sponsor transparency legislation in their state will follow a period of education as a natural byproduct. We will frame the legislation following the California model, positioning each bill as a tool to ensure minority communities have access to the investment capital they need to flourish. As we secure authors, we will invite the partner organizations we worked with in California to advocate in support of the legislation.

We will reach out to states irrespective of their status: if they have already started their legislative session, are almost done, or are not having a session at all. Because it will take time to educate legislators on the importance of access to capital, our focus will be on doing just that, to educate. If we can secure sponsorship of legislation this year, that’s great, but it won’t be the driving factor behind our engagement because educating legislators will take time.

Just as transparency is important in the corporate culture of our businesses, transparency is important in our governmental agencies as it builds trust, and promotes education, and awareness. Transparency also strengthens productivity and innovation and ultimately expands relationships. Transparency benefits all of us. Please let us know if you have any questions regarding our efforts, and how you can help.

To contact: www.ollinstrategies.com

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