Retirement Industry People Moves

Ascensus Acquires Retirement Educators; Vestwell Partners with Kovack Advisors; LGIMA Expands U.S. Active Fixed Income team; and more.
Ascensus Acquires Retirement Educators

Ascensus, an independent retirement and college-savings services provider, has acquired Retirement Educators to offer enhanced support to its plan sponsor partners and the financial institutions it serves.

“We’re pleased to announce the acquisition of Retirement Educators, Inc., and are excited to welcome their team members to our family and expand our retirement plan education and enrollment support services,” says Shannon Kelly, Ascensus’ president of retirement. “Retirement Educators shares our commitment to helping more Americans save for a comfortable retirement, and we look forward to their contribution to our future growth.”

Ascensus has specialized in providing its clients with training, education and enrollment-support services in the retirement plan and health care markets for more than 40 years. Operating throughout the country for more than 20 years, Retirement Educators has serviced large plan providers as well as broker-dealers, asset management firms, and third-party administrators. The company also offers bilingual support and provides translation services for presentation and educational materials.

“Our presenters are results-oriented and specialize in understanding the unique needs of our clients and the employers and participants they support,” says Rob Kelley, president of Retirement Educators. “We’re pleased to combine our firm’s talent and experience with Ascensus’ resources and retirement industry expertise to offer best-in-class retirement plan education services.”

NEXT: Vestwell Partners with Kovack Advisors

Vestwell Partners with Kovack Advisors

Vestwell, a white-labeled retirement platform servicing the registered investment adviser (RIA) community and beyond, has secured a partnership with Kovack Advisors.  

Vestwell's retirement plan management solution will be offered through The Kovack Choice 401(k). Vestwell’s digital platform, which combines automated investing with a human element, allows plan sponsors to automate plan testing and enroll participants. The firm says it can also generate fully-compliant notices and agreements. The product suite offers investment services as well as trading, administration, custody, recordkeeping, and trustee services. Vestwell can also serve as a 3(38) and 3(16) fiduciary. 

"Advisers are concerned about the U.S. Department of Labor's 'fiduciary' rule and want to reduce their risk of non-compliance. At Vestwell, we take on that risk on behalf of both advisers and plan sponsors, while also delivering a turnkey, time-saving solution that boosts efficiency to make offering retirement plan services good business again,” explains Aaron Schumm, CEO of Vestwell. “We're thrilled to be partnering with such a forward-thinking, industry-leading firm like Kovack Advisors on our white-label platform with them."

Chris Mills, executive vice president of Kovack Advisors says, "At Kovack Advisors, we are dedicated to providing our clients and affiliated advisers with the latest technology to both enhance our service offerings and quickly adapt to the latest DOL rules and regulations. Vestwell's innovative retirement platform, retirement plan management solution makes it possible for advisers to offer defined contribution plans again, even if they previously shied away from them because of the hassle and risk of previous solutions."

NEXT: LGIMA Expands U.S. Active Fixed Income team

LGIMA Expands U.S. Active Fixed Income team

Jordan Bond has joined Legal & General Investment Management America (LGIMA) as the firm’s senior portfolio manager for the U.S. Active Fixed Income team. He will be responsible for trading the banking and financial sectors for the U.S. Active Fixed Income team, which currently manages more than $57 billion in fixed-income strategies.

Bond brings more than 16 years of financial services experience to LGIMA. He most recently served as vice president, portfolio manager at PIMCO, where he was a member of a team responsible for managing investment grade assets across the firm. Previously, he spent eight years as a senior consultant with Morgan Stanley.

“Jordan brings substantial experience to LGIMA and we are thrilled to welcome him to our team,” says John Bender, CIO of U.S. Fixed Income. “We are excited about the significant impact Jordan will make in helping to drive meaningful investment results for our clients.”

NEXT: NFP's The Meltzer GroupAcquires The Coury Group

NFP's The Meltzer GroupAcquires The Coury Group

NFP announced that its company The Meltzer Group has acquired The Coury Group. NFP is an insurance broker providing employee benefits as well as retirement and individual private client solutions. The Coury Group is an employee benefits firm specializing in serving government contractors. Joseph Jude (J.J.) Coury and Terra Coury Bechara, principals of The Coury Group, will continue to operate the company as they previously have.

“We’re thrilled to welcome The Coury Group to our growing family,” says Ethan Foxman, The Meltzer Group’s chief operating officer. “Talent is at the core of our success, and this acquisition brings aboard like-minded people who fit our culture, adding to our great team in the benefits division. The new addition represents an opportunity to further expand our footprint in the northern Virginia marketplace.”

Coury said, “The Meltzer Group has a wealth of resources and strong capabilities in the benefits area. We’re excited to be able to tap into the broad offerings of both NFP and The Meltzer Group to continue serving our clients with comprehensive benefits as well as retirement and property and casualty products.”

NEXT: MassMutual Hires Relationship Manager

MassMutual Hires Relationship Manager

Bill Boyle has joined Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance (MassMutual) as a Taft-Hartley relationship manager serving the Western United Sates. He will join a team of more than 100 relationship managers helping plan sponsors serve their participants. Along with seven other individuals, he will join the Taft-Harley team dedicated to helping consultants, financial advisers, plan sponsors, participants, trustees, and others in the defined contribution (DC) and defined benefit (DB) industries across the country.

“We’re excited to have Bill join our Taft-Hartley team to provide local support and deepen our relationships with our clients in the Western part of the United States,” says Joe Carmignani, head of MassMutual’s Taft-Hartley Relationship Management team. “Located in California, Bill will help us grow the MassMutual brand and expand our relationships with advisers, trustees, consultants and other retirement plan professionals.”

Before joining MassMutual, Boyle was vice president and account executive at Associated Third Party Administrators, where he focused on Taft-Hartley plans. His eight years of experience in the Taft-Hartley marketplace has seen him serve many roles in DC, DB, health and welfare plans.

Boyle graduated from the University of California at Berkeley.

“As MassMutual continues to grow its Taft-Hartley business, we continue to add resources to our team,” says Doug DeNigris, Taft-Hartley practice leader. In the last two years we have expanded the team and in doing so we have continued to increase our coverage to other parts of the country while hiring talented people with different service backgrounds. In joining us from ATPA, Bill brings a wealth of experience in defined contributions, defined benefit, and health and welfare plan administration, which complements our team’s capabilities.” 

NEXT: Oppenheimer Funds Expands Marketing and Digital Distribution Sectors

Oppenheimer Funds Expands Marketing and Digital Distribution Sectors

Global asset manager Oppenheimer Funds has made three key senior leadership appointments enhancing its newly-integrated marketing and digital distribution efforts.

Eric Johnson has been named head of Digital Distribution & Innovation. In this newly created role, Johnson will partner closely with the Integrated Marketing and Brand & Client Experience teams to help provide the vision and strategy for leveraging digital distribution channels to reach clients. He will also oversee the firm's CRM systems, field-facing mobile technology, and advanced distribution analytics. Previously, Johnson served as National Sales Manager for Independent Broker Dealers.

Erik Schneberger will lead the firm’s client-facing digital properties, Brand & Advertising, Design & Multimedia, and Public Affairs, as well as Marketing Operations & Execution. He recently rejoined the firm as head of Brand & Client Experience. Beforehand, he served with the company as head of Digital Strategy.

Vince Grogan has been named head of Integrated Marketing, which encompasses Broker Dealer, High Net Worth, Institutional, Retirement & Sub-Advised marketing efforts, as well as Content Strategy & Development. Previously, Grogan led Integrated Marketing for the High New Worth and Institutional channels. Prior to joining OppenheimerFunds, he served as head of Defined Contribution Marketing, at Goldman Sachs.

Schneberger, Grogan and Johnson will report to John McDonough, head of Distribution and Marketing, OppenheimerFunds.

"As intermediaries and investors become increasingly sophisticated in their use of technology across their lives and in their investing, we're delighted to have integrated our digital and marketing functions to meet their evolving needs," says McDonough. "Erik, Vince and Eric have the experience and talent to lead us ahead in each of these specific areas, and will work seamlessly together on our clients' behalf."

Throughout the past year, Oppenheimer Funds has focused on adopting a client-centric approach in allocating resources to reach intermediaries and investors. It recently expanded its offering to include active management and smart beta solutions, and recently added environmental, social, governance (ESG) offerings to its ETF line up. 

NEXT: Lincoln Financial Group Creates New IT Role

Lincoln Financial Group Creates New IT Role

Lincoln Financial Group has appointed Robert Klaczak to the newly-created role of senior vice president of Distribution Information Technology.

Klaczak is tasked with leading an IT strategy with the mission to enhance adviser and wholesaler productivity for Lincoln Financial distributors, as well as deepening customer experiences by improving the firm’s capabilities in digital, automation and data analytics.

Prior to joining Lincoln Financial, Klaczak worked at Voya Financial where he most recently served as head of Retirement, Individual Retirement, Annuities and Retail IT. Previously, he was the head of IT Retirement Services for The Vanguard Group

“Rob brings a strong background in technology and financial services to Lincoln Financial,” says Kenneth S. Solon, executive vice president and chief information officer for Lincoln Financial. “His experience and track record of successfully leading IT initiatives will prove invaluable for Lincoln’s distribution partners, and we are excited for him to join our IT team.”

Klaczak received a bachelor’s degree from Spring Garden College, and a master’s degree in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

NEXT: Lincoln Financial Expands Retirement Business with Three Industry Veterans

Lincoln Financial Expands Retirement Business with Three Industry Veterans

Lincoln Financial Group has hired Carolyn Bremer, Rusty McGiboney and John Killoy to enhance its Participant Engagement and Relationship Management teams across its Retirement Plan Services business. They will work to build and strengthen the firm’s relationships with participants and plan sponsors in order to help drive positive retirement outcomes.

“We are thrilled that Carolyn, Rusty and John have joined the organization,” says Aaron Moore, JD, head of Relationship Management and Participant Engagement for Lincoln Financial. “Each one of them has a distinguished track record of success, and we look forward to tapping their industry knowledge and deep, relevant experience that will increase the overall strength of our teams and result in better outcomes for our clients.”

Bremer joins Lincoln as assistant vice president and relationship management director. She will be responsible for leading a team of nine relationship managers in the Northeast Region, who are focused on building strong relationships with plan sponsors. Before joining Lincoln Financial, Bremer served as regional vice president of Client Relationship Management for Transamerica Retirement Solutions, where she led six teams of client executives within the emerging, middle and large markets.

McGiboney has also been named assistant vice president and relationship management director. He will be tasked with leading a team of six relationship managers in the Southeast Region. He joins Lincoln Financial from The Newport Group, where he held the position of vice president of Retirement Services. That role saw him lead the client services team, which consisted of account management, conversions and ERISA consulting. He also built the company’s Relationship Management model.

Killoy joins Lincoln from Transamerica Retirement Solutions, where he was assistant vice president and West Region Retirement Consultant director for the Participant Engagement team. Killoy has worked closely with client management, sales, plan design, plan administration and participant engagement.

“Leading a Lincoln team of 16 retirement consultants, John will provide leadership, direction and expertise to ensure we are delivering a world-class participant experience nationally,” says James Thompson, assistant vice president, managing director and head of the Retirement Consultant Channel. “Retirement consultants are a key part of Lincoln’s high-touch model, building strong one-on-one relationships with participants and providing education on retirement issues.”