Retirement Industry People Moves

CFP Board appoints head of research; Mercer Advisors acquires HYA Advisors; attorney returns to the Wagner Law Group as principal; and more.

By DJ Shaw
Art by Subin YangArt by Subin Yang

CFP Board Appoints Head of Research

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. has announced that it has named Michael Kothakota as its first head of research. In this new position, Kothakota will lead the organization’s research enterprise and develop and execute a research agenda.

Based in CFP Board’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, Kothakota will drive empirical and longitudinal research studies to assess the impact that financial planning has on clients’ well-being. He will also develop new research and resources for practitioners and CFP Board business intelligence. He will report directly to chief operating officer Elizabeth Stewart.

Kothakota joins CFP Board from WolfBridge Wealth, where he served as CEO and conducted all parts of the financial planning process for retail clients. He also designed and implemented surveys and analyzed data as a partner at DataTactix and research consultant at Bento, Inc. Previously, he served on the research council at IncomeLab. Kothakota holds teaching positions at Kansas State University, the University of Georgia and Columbia University.

Kothakota has an M.S. in predictive analytics from Northwestern University and a doctorate degree in personal financial planning from Kansas State University.

Mercer Advisors Acquires HYA Advisors

Mercer Global Advisors Inc. has announced a merger with HYA Advisors Inc. and the related entity Heim, Young & Associates Inc.

HYA Advisors, a wealth management firm headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, serves approximately 1,000 clients with assets under management and advisement of approximately $1.2 billion. HYA was founded in 1991 by Dennis Heim and Dean Young. The HYA Advisors’ team will be joining Mercer Advisors.

HYA’s team works with clients to help them determine what is important to their family and to help them achieve it. Their team of CFP professionals strives to meet the highest ethical standards and provide clients with independent solutions tailored to fit their individual needs.

TRA Hires Seasoned Financial Professional

The Retirement Advantage Inc. recently announced the addition of Brian Flynn to its regional sales consulting team. Flynn will provide retirement plan sales consulting services in both Illinois and Wisconsin and will report to Darin Erdmann, TRA’s national sales manager.

Flynn is joining TRA from Lincoln Financial Distributors, where he operated as a regional sales director. He will be tasked with partnering with financial advisers and recordkeeping partners to assist them in creating and implementing optimal retirement plan designs for businesses of all sizes.

Flynn has nearly 20 years of expertise in the retirement services industry and has held several sales and leadership roles with companies within the industry, including Ameritas, John Hancock Retirement Plan Services and Watson Wyatt Worldwide.

Flynn earned his B.S. in commerce, with an emphasis in finance and accounting, from DePaul University. He has his Series 6, 7 and 63 securities licenses, as well as the Accredited Investment Fiduciary license.

Mercer Advisors Acquires Sanford Advisory Services

Mercer Global Advisors Inc., a national registered investment adviser, has announced the acquisition of Sanford Advisory Services LLC, a wealth management firm headquartered in Portage, Michigan.

Sanford serves approximately 1,100 clients with assets under management and advisement of approximately $1.1 billion. Sanford was founded by Todd Sanford. Scott Williams has been with Sanford since its inception in 2000 and became a partner of the firm in 2006. Brent Kerstetter, partner, joined Sanford in 2004, becoming its third partner. Sanford’s team of 10 professionals will be joining Mercer Advisors.

Sanford approaches financial management by developing a personalized comprehensive financial plan for its clientele, with an understanding that each client’s financial situation is unique.

Attorney Returns to the Wagner Law Group as Principal

The Wagner Law Group has recently announced that John Sohn has rejoined the firm as a partner.

Sohn has over 25 years of experience advising financial institutions with respect to investment management matters, including retirement-related products and services. His expertise includes ERISA and the areas of securities and banking laws relating to fiduciaries. 

Sohn has extensive experience advising asset management firms, broker/dealers, banks, insurance companies and retirement platforms. He also has extensive experience with fund products and their distribution, including registered funds, private funds and bank-maintained collective investment trusts, as well as managed accounts and retail separately managed account programs.

Sohn graduated with honors from both Harvard Law School and Harvard College. Before joining the Wagner Law Group, he served as associate general counsel for Legg Mason and as lead ERISA counsel for Citigroup. He most recently served as senior managing counsel at BNY Mellon.

NEPC Appoints Former Meketa Executive to COO Role

NEPC has announced that Kellie Kane has joined the firm as partner and chief operating officer, effective May 2. Kane will be responsible for overseeing the execution and implementation of NEPC’s operational strategy, including the firm’s performance reporting, technology and discretionary operations teams. She will be an active member of the firm’s executive team and will report directly to managing partner Mike Manning.

Prior to joining NEPC, Kane spent 24 years at Meketa Investment Group, where she most recently served as partner and chief operating officer. In that role, Kane oversaw a large staff across IT, systems development, data, performance reporting, investment analytics, administrative and transfer operations.

Alan Biller and Associates Announces Promotion and New Shareholders

Alan Biller and Associates, a national investment consulting firm, has promoted Asad Ali to the role of president, effective immediately. Ali succeeds Jennifer Newell, who assumed the role of CEO earlier this year.

A shareholder of the firm, Ali joined Alan Biller and Associates in 2014 and has served as executive vice president since 2020. He will continue his client-facing responsibilities and play a greater role in the firm’s strategic initiatives.

The firm has also elevated three employees as new equity shareholders and principals: David Vas, director of consulting; Aileen Burrows, chief operating officer; and Ralph Goldsticker, chief investment officer. Through periodic grants of equity ownership to key employees, the firm ensures its continuing ability to remain an independent fiduciary adviser to its clients.

Retirement Income Consortium Launches to Address Retirement Security Challenges

To help accelerate adoption of guaranteed income solutions in retirement plans, global fintech firm Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc. has launched the Retirement Income Consortium, an initiative to bring together comprehensive retirement expertise in support of the effort to make financial security a reality for all Americans.

The Consortium has a shared goal of supporting greater access for workers to retirement income solutions. The passage of the SECURE Act and continued focus on the importance of retirement security have underscored the need for concerted action on the issue of retirement preparedness. Broadridge launched the Consortium to create a due diligence framework for retirement income solution evaluation, and as a forum to work with retirement income solution providers and others to better educate advisers and plan sponsors.

“The development of a standard is critical for retirement income solutions to get implemented within plans,” says John Faustino, head of Broadridge’s fiduciary education and technology business. “Investors want plan sponsors to give them the option of retirement income, but there is a tremendous demand for education and support to connect the dots and make that happen.”

Consortium members include AllianceBernstein, Allianz, BlackRock, Income America, Nationwide, Principal Financial Group, Prudential Financial and TIAA-Nuveen.

Mercer Appoints Head of Sustainable Investment

Mercer has named Max Messervy as head of sustainable investment, Americas. Based in Boston, Messervy will be responsible for sustainable investments for clients across North and South America and will report to Jo Holden, Global Head of Investment Research.

Messervy previously held the role of senior consultant on Mercer’s U.S. sustainable investment team, serving as a strategic adviser on sustainable investment, climate change and impact investment approaches throughout investment processes. Prior to joining Mercer, Messervy spent nearly four years working in the insurance practice at Ceres in Boston, a not-for-profit sustainability advocacy organization. He also worked in various capacities with Canadian federal and provincial governments.

Messervy holds a master’s degree in public policy from the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA, and an honors religious studies degree from McGill University.

Newcleus Makes Three New Hires

Three professionals with decades of experience in bank-owned life insurance and non-qualified benefit planning have joined Newcleus, a Newtown, Pennsylvania-based firm that designs, administers and services compensation, benefit, investment and finance strategies.

New managing directors Fabrizio D’Uva and Charlie Abboud and new account executive Amanda Hoffman join Newcleus from Pentegra. At Newcleus, D’Uva, Abboud and Hoffman will continue to serve the banking community and enhance their servicing and product offerings to their clients while providing a smooth transition and undisrupted administration.

D’Uva, regional managing director for Newcleus Bank Advisors, brings more than 20 years of industry expertise to the role.

Abboud, regional managing director for Newcleus Bank Advisors, also has decades of experience and knowledge about non-qualified retirement plan solutions, benefit plan design and financing strategies.

Hoffman, Newcleus Bank Advisors account executive, boasts 19 years of experience in all aspects of executive benefit plans and related financing strategies.

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