Retirement Industry People Moves

Mesirow Adds Seven-Person Investment Management Team; Mercer Hires Principal of Client Management; Hilb Group Acquires BKC to Expand Midwest Offices; and more.  

Mesirow Financial has announced the addition of a high yield and leveraged loans investment management team to complement its existing fixed income management strategies. The seven-person team, led by Robert Sydow and comprised of portfolio managers Kevin Buckle, CFA, and James Lisko, has a proven record in management of non-investment grade debt going back to the 1990s.

The team is reporting to Dominick Mondi, president of Mesirow Financial. They are working alongside Mesirow Financial’s existing fixed income strategies, led by Peter Hegel.

“We have been focused on building our credit-oriented strategies to enhance and diversify our business,” says Richard Price, chairman and CEO of Mesirow Financial. “We have had a strong fixed income management business for many years, managing approximately $4.4 billion in assets today, and look forward to offering new fixed income solutions to our clients.”

“We could not be more excited to join Mesirow Financial,” says Sydow. “We are looking forward to being part of a growing platform such as Mesirow Financial with an established reputation in investment management and credit expertise.”

The team joins Mesirow Financial most recently from Pacific Income Advisors (PIA), an independent investment advisory firm managing assets for institutional and private clients. Prior to joining PIA in 2010, Sydow founded Grandview Capital in 1999 with many of today’s team members, and together they managed high yield bonds exclusively for one of the world’s leading family foundations. Before that, several of the team co-managed SunAmerica’s high yield fixed income investments, helping to substantially grow the assets over time.

“The team has consistently demonstrated top-decile performance in non-investment grade debt management over a long period of time with a differentiated and disciplined investment approach. This addition to our capabilities is a testament to our commitment to strive for best in class solutions to our clients worldwide,” says Mondi.

NEXT: Mercer Hires Principal of Client Management

Mercer has appointed Maggie Griffin to Mercer’s Chicago office as principal of Client Management. Her responsibilities include managing Chicago clients and helping them determine the right solution to fit their needs. Griffin will report to Beth Kirk Malecki, partner, Chicago office leader.

“We are thrilled to have Maggie return to Mercer,” says Malecki, “Her knowledge and proven track record of building long-term client relationships will be great assets to our team and our clients. We will count on her to ensure client satisfaction across the full spectrum of our services in the areas of health, wealth, and careers.”

Prior to Griffin’s current role, she worked as an Enterprise Relationship manager at LinkedIn. Griffin previously worked at Mercer in Chicago focusing on business development in Information Solutions, and received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Iowa.

NEXT: Hilb Group Acquires BKC to Expand Midwest Offices

The Hilb Group has announced the acquisition of BKC Insurance Agency (BKC). The transaction became effective October 1. BKC is THG's 39th acquisition since it was founded in 2009.

Based in Cheboygan, Michigan with an additional location in Indian River, Michigan, BKC will further expand THG's geographic footprint in the Midwest. BKC provides a wide array of property & casualty and employee benefits solutions for businesses and individuals, including specialized programs for farms and other agricultural services in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Following the transaction, BKC's associates, including managing partners, Joseph Breed, Ken Pletcher, and Pete Patrick, will join THG and continue to service clients from their existing offices. 

"For over 75 years, we have held fast to our commitment of offering our clients a broad choice of products and solutions, all backed by prompt, personal service," says Breed. "Joining forces with THG will allow us to build upon this commitment by providing access to new ideas and solutions."

"BKC's expertise and market relationships exemplify our values of service and entrepreneurialism and their broad expertise will further enhance our growing Midwest operations," says Ricky Spiro, CEO of THG. "We look forward to supporting BKC's growth in the years to come."

NEXT: AndCo Employs Retirement Plan Consultant to Support Fiduciary and Plan Governance 

AndCo has added Amy Heyel as its newest retirement plan consultant. In her new role, Heyel will help to strengthen the firm’s fiduciary and plan governance resources for its rapidly growing roster of defined contribution (DC) clients around the country.

Heyel joins AndCo with over 25 years of industry experience. Most recently, she was a member of Empower Retirement’s senior leadership team for government markets. During her time at Empower, Heyel managed client relationships across 11 states, participated in new business and client retention efforts and led a team of relationship managers in the Eastern region.

"Having someone of Amy’s caliber join AndCo is significant for our team,” says Mike Welker, president and CEO of AndCo. “Anyone who is actively involved in the defined contribution industry, especially within governmental markets, knows that Amy is one of the best in the business. We are so thrilled to have her.”

“The client-centric culture that AndCo promotes is something that is aligned with my own personal values,” says Heyel. “Many firms claim to have this kind of culture, but AndCo truly separates itself from the competition through collaboration with vendors, strategic consulting to clients and the desire to always put plan sponsors and their participants first. I am excited to be a part of this dynamic team working hard to transform our industry”.

Heyel will join AndCo on Monday, November 6.

NEXT: MassMutual Appoints Regional Managing Director for Midwest

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. (MassMutual) has appointed Jonathan Matta as regional managing director for the Midwest, responsible for sales and growth of the MassMutual funds in the defined contribution investment only (DCIO) marketplace.

“Jon, with more than 20 years of experience in mutual funds and other investment products, is a seasoned investment sales professional who will be an asset to financial advisers and plan sponsors,” says Aruna Hobbs, head of Institutional Investments. “We are continuing to build our team to support the momentum the MassMutual Funds have enjoyed in the DCIO marketplace.”

Matta’s appointment brings MassMutual’s DCIO sales and support team to 10 members. The DCIO team partners with MassMutual’s 80 managing directors who support sales of bundled retirement plans.

Before joining MassMutual, Matta was a sales director for Janus Capital Group for more than 10 years, responsible for sales and business development. He served on the Janus Wholesaler Advisory Council. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University.

NEXT: Practice Leader Joins Mercer’s Health Business in Cincinnati 

Mercer has appointed Anna Dant as practice leader for Mercer’s Health Business. In this role she will lead Mercer’s Cincinnati team in its Health & Benefit consulting and broking efforts. Dant will report to Andrew Rosenberg, Health & Benefits office business leader for Indiana and Ohio.

“We are thrilled to welcome Anna to Mercer,” says Rosenberg. “Her experience in various health leadership roles will be an excellent addition to the Cincinnati health team.” 

“Anna’s skills and background will help us continue to provide our clients exceptional service and solutions in Southwestern Ohio and Northern Kentucky,” adds Dave Beckett, sales leader in Cincinnati.

Prior to joining Mercer, Dant was with Aetna where she served as vice president, Client Management.  She has also served as a senior consultant at Willis Towers Watson for more than 10 years. Dant received her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

NEXT: Wells Fargo Builds Multi-Asset Solutions Team

Wells Fargo Asset Management (WFAM) has announced that Dan Morris has joined the firm as global head of Portfolio Solutions within the Multi-Asset Solutions team. Morris will report to Nicolaas Marais, president of WFAM and head of Multi-Asset Solutions, and will focus on designing solutions for clients that seek retirement income strategies, wealth preservation, and downside risk protection. Based in London, Morris comes to Wells Fargo from Schroders, where he was head of U.S. Portfolio Solutions.

Also joining the team are Martijn De Vree and Frank Cooke, who will report to Morris. De Vree joins from Insight Investment, where he was a senior solutions expert, and Cooke joins from Mercer in Hong Kong, where he served as a senior investment consultant. In July, Jonathon Hobbs joined the firm from BlackRock and also reports to Morris. De Vree and Cooke are based in London, and Hobbs is based in San Francisco. 

“The addition of Dan, Martijn, Frank, and Jonathon to our team is a significant step forward as we build out our innovative Multi-Asset Solutions team. These leaders bring a depth of experience to the platform that will play a crucial role in creating unlock moments for clients,” says Marais. “We are building a team that strives to be a best-in-class problem-solving partner, dedicated to creating solutions that address the complex and changing needs of our clients.”

The goal of the Multi-Asset Solutions team is to help investors increase, protect, and generate income from capital. The team oversees product development and research to offer solutions across asset classes, geographies, and investment products. These products incorporate traditional balanced, target-date, global tactical allocation, global income, absolute return, alternative risk premia, and inflation-sensitive strategies.

At Schroders, Morris worked with clients to understand their investment objectives, translating them into actionable portfolios and strategies, and he also provided liability-driven investing solutions to U.K. clients. Before his tenure at Schroders, Morris led the London Investment Strategy team at Towers Watson, where he advised clients on asset allocation, hedging, and downside protection strategies. Morris holds a degree in mathematics from the University of Nottingham, U.K., and is an associate of the Institute of Actuaries, U.K.

At Insight Investment, De Vree was previously a senior solutions specialist, where he designed and delivered bespoke liability-driven investments (LDI) and risk-management solutions for pension plans. He started his career as an investment consultant at Towers Watson. De Vree earned a bachelor’s degree in business and economics and a Master of Laws degree in financial law, both from the Erasmus University Rotterdam. He also earned a master’s degree in economics from the National University of Singapore. He is on the Board of Examiners and fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and has earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. 

Cooke was a senior investment consultant at Mercer in Hong Kong, focusing on asset allocation and capital markets modeling for Asia Pacific. He started his career at Towers Watson as an investment consultant. Cooke earned a Bachelor of Business Science in actuarial science from the University of Cape Town. He also earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. 

Hobbs is the head of U.S. Portfolio Solutions for the Multi-Asset Solutions team, where he designs and implements outcome-oriented investment portfolios. Previously, he led the client solutions office in San Francisco and was co-head of Liability Driven Investments in North America with BlackRock. Before joining BlackRock, he was a financial and actuarial adviser with Ernst & Young LLP. Hobbs earned a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science and finance from Drake University, has earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, and is a fellow of the Society of Actuaries.

NEXT: Stadion Employs Four Wholesalers to Sales Team Nationwide

Stadion Money Management announced the addition of four wholesalers to its sales team: Eric Butler in Colorado, Tim Bottomly in Massachusetts, Carey Robinson in California and Brian Peterson in North Carolina. All four join the firm as vice president-adviser consultant, and oversee retail and retirement products in their territories. They report to Dave Lacusky, chief distribution officer.

“Eric, Tim, Carey and Brian have distinguished themselves as successful wholesalers who understand the financial adviser arena and the strategies advisers are looking for to help their clients navigate the markets,” says Lacusky. “We’re excited about the opportunities we have with our investment solutions, including StoryLine, and the newly launched TargetFit.”

StoryLine, built with SPDR ETFs, is a retirement planning solution built specifically for 401(k) participants in adviser-sold plans. It made its market debut in 2016 and has approximately $600 million in assets under management (AUM) as of September 30. TargetFit, launched earlier this month, takes target-date funds (TDFs) and adds choice. TargetFit is a solution that offers three target-date fund glide paths, giving options that are not traditionally available through a single target-date fund family. TargetFit Funds are available on multiple open architecture retirement platforms.

Tim Bottomly joins Stadion as a vice president with more than 12 years’ experience with broker dealers and institutional investments. In his role, Bottomly will be responsible for overseeing sales in Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Before joining Stadion, Bottomly worked as a regional external wholesaler for Beaumont Capital Management in Massachusetts and was responsible for exchange-traded fund (ETF) strategy sales in the New England area. Prior to that, he held various roles at Paychex and MFS Investment Management. He received his BBA from the Catholic University of America.

Eric Butler also joins Stadion as a vice president and brings more than 12 years’ experience to the company. Butler oversees Stadion’s sales in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. He joins the firm from Sowell Management Services, where he most recently served as director of Business Development, overseeing the company’s sales and marketing teams. Prior to that, Butler held various roles at several firms, including Hatteras Funds, Advisors Asset Management, Transamerica Capital and REPTECH. He received his bachelor's degree in Marketing from Metro State University.

Carey Robinson, vice president, has more than 20 years’ experience growing mutual fund and annuity sales in California, Nevada and Hawaii and will oversee Stadion’s sales efforts in Southern California. Immediately prior to joining Stadion, he served as an external wholesaler for Protective Life Insurance Company where he was responsible for relationship building, consultative sales and marketing activities. He started his career at Ameriprise Financial in 1997, where he focused on mutual fund sales and practice management. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Northern Iowa.

Brian Peterson also joins Stadion as a vice president and comes with more than 12 years’ experience. In his role, he’ll be responsible for overseeing sales in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Before joining Stadion, Peterson worked as a regional external wholesaler for Moody Securities where he was responsible for relationship building and the development of a value add program for the firm. Prior to that, he held various roles at Principal Funds and Bankers Life & Casualty. He received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina.

NEXT: VP Unites With Cohen & Steers to Specialize in DCIO Marketplace 

Christopher Gasta has joined Cohen & Steers as a vice president on the wealth management team, specializing in the defined contribution investment-only (DCIO) marketplace.

Gasta joins the DCIO team formed during the past 18 months to strengthen Cohen & Steers' position in the seven-trillion dollar defined contribution (DC) market, where the firm provides investment management services to qualified retirement plans.

Gasta comes to Cohen & Steers from PNC Capital Advisors, where he served as the southeast regional DCIO director and was responsible for developing relationships with top retirement plan advisers. He brings 20 years of experience serving the defined contribution market. Based in Georgia, Gasta will cover the southeastern United States, joining Jessen Fahey (West), under the leadership of Charlie Wenzel (Northeast).

With the addition of Gasta, the firm has completed the build-out of an external DCIO team and now looks forward to the next phase of a corporate initiative to expand its retirement plan presence with recordkeepers, financial advisers and third-party administrators.

"While plan sponsors continue to simplify their investment menu choices, there is a clear need for improved real asset diversification within target-date funds [TDFs] and other DC line-up choices," says David Edlin, executive vice president and directorof Wealth Management Consulting. "With their history of attractive returns, low correlations with other asset classes and positive inflation sensitivity, listed real assets may increase the likelihood of investors achieving their retirement income goals," he adds.

Real assets are already widely utilized by corporate and public pension plans, yet remain under-represented in defined contribution plans. This leaves significant room for growth in real assets allocations as firms look to institutional investors as a model for implementing fiduciary best practices.

NEXT: Ascensus to Acquire Polycomp

Ascensus has entered into an agreement to acquire Polycomp Administrative Services, Inc. (Polycomp). The retirement plan design and benefit plan administrative services firm will immediately become part of Ascensus' retirement division.   

Polycomp, which has offices throughout California in Roseville, Woodland Hills, and San Diego, provides client-specific solutions and services for self-directed IRAs, qualified plans, and prevailing wage trusts.

"Polycomp is nationally recognized as a leader in retirement plan consulting and administrative services," states Shannon Kelly, Ascensus' president of retirement. "The climate of mutual trust and purpose that they've created is attractive not only to its clients, but also to its associates—many of whom have been with the firm for more than 10 years. Ascensus gladly welcomes these new associates and the expertise they can share with our clients to help them prepare for the future."

"Since Polycomp doesn't sell or recommend investments to our clients, we can focus our efforts on client objectives and collaborating with other experts in the accounting, financial planning, and investment fields," says Donna Harmon, Polycomp's chief operating officer. "Becoming part of Ascensus and gaining access to all of its resources will allow us to continue to provide the highest level of expertise in retirement plan design and compliance administration."

"The acquisition of Polycomp is an excellent proxy to our diversified growth strategy, as Polycomp's solutions span not only our core retirement third-party administration markets, but also the self-directed IRA, trust administration, and compliance areas," says Raghav Nandagopal, Ascensus' executive vice president of corporate development and M&A. "In addition to these adjacencies, we continue to aggressively pursue acquisition opportunities in college solutions, health solutions, benefit administration, and other logical areas."

NEXT: Consultant Named ASPPA President 

The American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA) inaugurated Adam C. Pozek, QPA, QKA, CPFA, as the new president of the organization during the October 22 opening session of the 2017 ASPPA Annual Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

January 1, 2018, will mark Pozek's first day as ASPPA president. He succeeds 2017 President Richard A. Hochman, JD, APM. 

"It's an honor to work with an organization so dedicated to helping millions of American workers," says Pozek. "As ASPPA president, I will work with the rest of its leadership to continue to provide top-tier education for retirement plan professionals and advocate for the employer-based retirement system that provides working Americans with a path to a dignified retirement."

Pozek is a partner at DWC–The 401(k) Experts, an independent consulting and third-party administration (TPA) firm. At DWC, Pozek works with clients and financial advisers across the country to help design and maintain the retirement plans they offer to their employees. In addition to his partnership at DWC, Pozek is co-editor-in-chief at the Journal of Pension Benefits. He has served on various committees within the industry, including the IRS Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt & Government Entities. 

"There is a direct correlation of client satisfaction and knowledgeable consultants," says Keith Clark, managing partner of DWC–The 401(k) Experts. "Adam has made education and training of our team at DWC a priority with ASPPA designations, conferences, and seminars as the foundation."

Pozek has a long history with ASPPA, having served in various roles including president of two local chapters, General Conferences co-chair and chair of several Government Affairs subcommittees. Adam also serves on the Board of Directors of the American Retirement Association.

"Given Adam's leading role in the retirement plan consulting industry, we are very fortunate to have him leading the organization that represents America's retirement plan consultants and administrators," says Brian Graff, executive director of ASPPA.

NEXT: RLG Employs Senior Counsel for Regulatory Expertise

The Retirement Law Group (RLG) announces the addition of Dean Scoular as senior counsel to the RLG team. Scoular will operate out of Kansas City, Missouri where RLG’s “sister” company, Pension Resource Institute (PRI), has been headquartered since 2010. 

RLG provides counsel relating to the intersection of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), tax and securities laws and regulations. RLG attorneys serve the needs of financial institutions, including asset managers, broker-dealers and registered investment advisers (RIAs) as well as retirement plan recordkeepers, third-party administrators (TPAs) and plan sponsors. 

Scoular’s hiring will help RLG support its clients’ growing needs for regulatory expertise – particularly those arising from Department of Labor (DOL) investigations and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audits and plan corrections. He will also be helping RLG grow its presence in the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) market. 

“We are excited to bring an attorney of Dean’s caliber into our firm,” says Jason C. Roberts, founder and managing partner of RLG and CEO of PRI. “Dean’s 20 years of experience as a benefits attorney, as well as his 14 years of experience prior to becoming an attorney, including his time at IRS, will not only strengthen our ability to serve the needs of current RLG clients, we anticipate Dean will be well-positioned to develop relationships with new clients both in and around Kansas City and nationally.” 

Scoular has experience with qualified plans including employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), non-qualified plans, health and welfare plans, church plans and governmental plans. According to Scoular, “My experience in private practice, including time spent at three AmLaw 150 law firms, as in-house counsel for one of the country’s largest plan recordkeepers, and as an employee plans specialist with the IRS have given me a unique perspective that allows me to evaluate and communicate employee benefit issues from all angles.”

Scoular says the opportunity to work with Roberts was an important factor in his decision to join the firm: “Jason has a terrific reputation in our industry, and I look forward to helping RLG expand their Employee Benefits practice into all areas of Employee Benefits, including ESOPs,” he says.

NEXT: Baystate Hires Financial Services Representative to Increase Market Share

Baystate Financial announced the addition of a financial services representative to its expanding enterprise. Daniel St. Jean is an established financial professional with more than 16 years of financial experience.

At Baystate, St. Jean will focus on expanding market share by providing a full spectrum of financial advisory services, including retirement planning, estate conservation, protection planning and business succession, to a clientele of professionals, corporations, entrepreneurs, young medical professionals and multi-generational families.

“We at Baystate Financial have continued to raise the bar for our associates while maintaining the highest standards of excellence when it comes to business ethics, our services and products, and our dedication to our clients,” says Dave Porter, managing partner. “I’m very excited to add Dan to our team.”