New Jersey loses real estate investment official

Bryan Martin, who joined New Jersey last year to head up real estate and real assets, has joined an insurance agency in Nebraska.

New Jersey’s state pension system lost its head of real estate and opportunistic investments, Bryan Martin, several weeks ago, two sources confirmed.

Martin left the $72 billion system to join Spectrum Financial Services, an insurance agency in Omaha, Nebraska. A woman who answered the phone at Spectrum confirmed that Martin had joined. Spectrum specialises in the sale and delivery of credit-related insurance products, according to the firm’s website.

New Jersey hired Martin last year from the Indiana Public Retirement System, where he was director of investments for the state teachers’ retirement fund, and director of alternative investments for the public employees’ retirement fund. The two systems merged into one retirement system last year.

Martin was working with Jason MacDonald, senior portfolio manager, on running alternative investments for New Jersey’s pension fund. The two had worked with Christine Pastore, co-head of alternative investments, who left in March.

It’s unclear if Martin is being replaced; a spokesperson for New Jersey did not return a request for comment Wednesday. 

Public pension systems in the US have been struggling with the constant threat of “brain drain”, or the loss of experienced investment professionals who build portfolios only to leave early in the process to take better paying roles in the private sector.

New Jersey has struggled with it, as has Florida’s massive state system, which lost its long-time head of private equity Jim Treanor last year, and the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board, which lost most of its private equity team over the last year.

Florida has started discussions on ways to restructure compensation to better retain talented investment professionals. The Orange County Employees Retirement System this year started to explore the possibility of offering its investment staff incentive pay.

“Highly-qualified investment professionals are sought-after individuals. And ours is an industry where talent is worth something,” Florida SBA chief executive and chief investment officer Ash Williams told sister publication Private Equity International in a prior interview. “The rest is sort of self-explanatory.”