Retirement Industry People Moves

Texas TRS CIO Steps Down; Ibis Capital Expands Retirement Plan Services; HD Vest Hires Chief Investment Strategist; and more.

Texas TRS CIO Steps Down

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) announced that TRS Chief Investment Officer Thomas “Britt” Harrisis leaving the agency to serve as the chief investment officer for The University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO), a 501(c)(3) investment management corporation.

Harris joined TRS in November 2006 as its chief investment officer. He previously served as chief executive officer of Bridgewater Associates, chief investment officer and president of Verizon Investment Management Corporation, chief investment officer and president of GTE Investment Management Corporation, and managing director for Asea Brown Boveri.

When Harris joined TRS, the pension fund was valued at $100 billion. Shortly after his arrival, however, the fund’s value dropped to $67 billion during the 2007-08 financial crisis. Under Harris’ leadership, the TRS investment team skillfully guided the fund back to financial health as evidenced by its $140 billion value today.

Harris restructured and expanded TRS’ investment division, implemented leading-edge portfolio management strategies, guided development of a new asset allocation policy and entered into a series of innovative strategic partnerships. With Harris’ guidance, the agency’s world-class staff has earned TRS a reputation as a top investment industry leader with highly regarded performance, innovation and effective risk management.

TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie announced that, effective immediately, TRS Deputy Chief Investment Officer Jerry Albright will serve as interim chief investment officer. Albright is chairman of the Internal Investment Committee and sole director of TRICOT London, the first international office for the TRS pension fund. Albright previously served as TRS Investment Division’s chief operating officer as well as the director of investment operations.

At their July meeting, the TRS Board will consider plans for filling the chief investment officer position on a permanent basis.

NEXT: Ibis Capital Expands Retirement Plan Services

Ibis Capital Expands Retirement Plan Services

To support the needs of business owners who are opening small-to-mid size operations, Ibis Capital is expanding its Retirement Plan Services. The boutique wealth management firm’s retirement business offers plan implementation coordination of plan conversion, and quarterly employee education; as well as access to service providers, third party administrators (TPAs) and relationship managers.

“We are committed to expanding our portfolio to better serve the industry,” says Robert Meyer, CEO and CIO of Ibis Capital. “Providing business owners with retirement plan designs tailored to their unique needs is a focused and natural next step for Ibis.”

Ibis notes that fee compression and the Department of Labor's (DOL)’s fiduciary rule could have a particular impact on small-business owners.

“We understand the specific challenges that our clients face in an ever-changing financial landscape, and can help them routinely monitor their plans to maximize benefits at all levels of the organization,” says Meyer.

NEXT: HD Vest Hires Chief Investment Strategist 

HD Vest Hires Chief Investment Strategist

James T. Hickey has joined the independent financial services firm HD Vest as its new chief investment strategist. He brings more than 23 years of financial services and insurance industry experience to the firm. He recently served as vice president and portfolio manager for Boston-based FDO Partners. Prior to that role, he was CEO and chief investment officer of Houston-based multi-strategy investment firm and family office RiverRock Group.  

He will be tasked with molding the firm’s investment policy and execute investment strategies while leading portfolio creation and management for HD Vest’s network of independent advisers. Hickey will also provide insights to HD Vest advisers about implications of macroeconomic changes.

“We are pleased to add an executive of James’ caliber to the firm’s executive leadership team,” says Bob Oros, chief executive officer of HD Vest. “As the lead investment strategist for HD Vest, James will conduct thorough investment and economic research and will play a significant role in providing thought leadership to help our advisers stay on top of changes in the industry. Offering our advisers access to James’ thought leadership around the portfolio gives them more time to focus on nurturing existing client relationships and attracting new clients to grow their practices.”

Hickey holds FINRA series 7, 24, 27, 66 and 79 licenses and is a Chartered Financial Analyst. He earned his master’s degree in business administration with high honors from The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania and his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.

NEXT: SSGA Names Head of SPDR Sales 

SSGA Names Head of SPDR Sales

Kathryn Sweeney has joined State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) as head of SPDR Americas Institutional sales. She will be responsible for defining and leading the execution of the SPDR Americas Institutional Sales Strategy. Sweeney will also collaborate with the Americas Institutional Client Group (ICG) team under Barry F.X. Smith, head of the Americas ICG at SSGA, to drive ETF sales with asset owners.

Sweeney joins SSGA from Goldman Sachs, where she spent more than 19 years. There, she played a strategic role in building out its ETF business, first in London and then in New York. She held a variety of roles, most recently as global head of Distribution and Product Strategy for the Securities Division. She worked closely with ETF asset managers, institutional trading desks and internal stakeholders to increase ETF activity. Prior to this, she held roles as head of US ETF Execution and Risk, and as an ETF trader in London and New York.

“ETFs are being used by a greater number of institutional investors seeking to reduce fees and increase the liquidity and transparency of their holdings,” says Nick Good, co-head of the global SPDR business. “Our global SPDR ETF business has a strong track record of product innovation, including working with large institutional clients to develop products such as SHE, LOWC and SPYX to meet their specific investment needs. Given Kathryn’s visibility and relationships within the ETF industry we are confident that she will continue to advance the SPDR position in the institutional market, and we are excited to have her join our Global SPDR team.”

NEXT: Cohen & Steers Hires VP of Wealth Management 

Cohen & Steers Hires VP of Wealth Management

Jessen Fahey has joined Cohen & Steers as vice president on the wealth management team, specializing in the defined contribution investment-only (DCIO) marketplace. With more than 22 years of experience in the retirement services industry, he comes to Cohen & Steers from Columbia Threadneedle. While there, he served as regional vice president of sales, directing initiatives and coaching wholesalers for the company's DCIO effort. Based in Colorado, Fahey will cover the Western United States.

"Defined contribution is a critical focus for Cohen & Steers," says Charlie Wenzel, senior vice president and head of Wealth Management Defined Contribution. "We expect the implementation of fiduciary best practices will cause DC asset allocations to migrate toward those of institutional investors, where real assets are more widely utilized. Jessen will play a strategic role in growing the firm's DCIO business, educating 401(k) advisers, fiduciaries, model managers and retirement platforms about the potential of real assets to help participants improve their retirement plan outcomes."

NEXT: Heffernan Financial Services Expands Adviser Team

Heffernan Financial Services Expands Adviser Team

Jennifer Owen has joined Heffernan Financial Services as an adviser in the Irvine, California branch.

With more than 10 years of experience in the financial services industry, she began her career with MetLife working in sales, training, and advanced planning. She also consulted with financial advisers, clients, and their legal and tax advisers on investment management, retirement, tax planning, and trust and estate planning. Later, she worked at BNY Mellon Wealth Management specializing in the investment and planning needs of high net worth clients.

"We're excited to add an experienced certified financial planner to our team," says Blake Thibault, managing Director, Heffernan Financial Services. "Jen shares our passion for promoting financial wellness and literacy and we look forward to her helping our clients with all their financial needs."

Owen graduated cum laude from the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management with a bachelor’s degree in finance. She is a Certified Financial Planner, practitioner and Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP).

NEXT: GAM Expands Investment Consultants Business

GAM Expands Investment Consultants Business

Anne Lundberg has joined GAM to lead its consultant relations business in North America as an independent active asset manager.

Effective June 21, she will report to London-based Greg Clerkson, who joined the company in February in the newly created role of global head of consultant relations. Lundberg has been heading the North America consultant relations for Man Group for the past four years after working for Putnam Investments as a consultant relations director. She is the immediate past president of Women Investment Professionals.

“I am extremely pleased to welcome someone of Anne’s calibre and experience to GAM,” says Greg Clerkson, global head of consultant relations. “Her unique background of working with investment consultants in both systematic and discretionary investment strategies is a perfect fit for our growing North America business.”

NEXT: Trust Company of America Collaborates with Millennium Trust 

Trust Company of America Collaborates with Millennium Trust

The Trust Company of America has entered a partnership with  Millennnium Trust Company to provide alternative asset custody in taxable portfolios for its advisers. Previously, TCA advisers could only hold alternative assets in clients’ tax-advantaged portfolios on the TCA platform.

TCA advisers can now custody clients’ alternative assets for taxable portfolios as well. Alternative assets held at MTC are seamlessly linked to the client’s TCA accounts so that advisers and their clients can see descriptions of the positions, the number of shares held, the total market value of the position and the last valuation date.

TCA advisers can now custody public non-traded REITs, hedge funds, private equity/debt, commodities/future and marketplace loans at MTC. An MTC relationship management team will support TCA advisers with streamlined account processing, account management tools and assistance to integrate any alternative assets into their portfolio.

“A robust diversified, multi-asset portfolio combined with best-in-class tools empowers advisers to deliver the investment solutions clients need most,” says Trust Company of America CEO Joshua Pace. “Millennium’s expertise in the complexities of alternative assets and deep understanding of the regulatory environment make it an ideal partner for TCA and our advisers. Together, we will help advisers be the best fiduciaries they can while providing them with the tools they need to succeed.”

In addition, TCA advisers also have access to the Millennium Alternative Investment Network, which allows advisers to research and access new alternative investment opportunities.

TCA is an independent provider of integrated technology, custody and practice management support for registered investment advisers (RIAs). MTC is a custodian for alternative assets.

For more information about the partnership, visit  

NEXT: Mercer Advisors Names New CEO

Mercer Advisors Names New CEO

Mercer Advisors, a national Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) firm based in Santa Barbara, announced the appointment of wealth management executive Dave Welling as Chief Executive Officer. He succeeds David Barton, who will transition to vice chairman and lead the company’s merger and acquisition (M&A) efforts.

Tony Salewski, a member of Mercer’s Board of Directors and managing director of Genstar Capital, which acquired Mercer in 2015, says: “Mercer continues to be one of the fastest growing RIA’s, and we are pleased to announce this leadership transition at a time of the company’s ongoing expansion. Dave Welling is an experienced leader in both the wealth management and financial technology space, and he brings a unique set of capabilities to lead the next chapter of Mercer’s growth. Dave Barton has done an incredible job of building the business over the past decade, and we look forward to our continued partnership in his new role as vice chairman.”

“After a successful nine year run as CEO of Mercer Advisors, I have decided to step down as CEO and reduce my responsibilities and role at Mercer,” says Barton. “I will now focus my time and attention supporting our new CEO and spearheading mergers and acquisitions for the Company as vice chairman.  Dave's public company experience and his expertise in technology and digital enterprise solutions will allow Mercer to continue to expand its investment services and digital experiences for clients.”

Since 2016, Welling has served as co-general manager of SS&C Advent, a division of SS&C Technologies. In addition to his leadership of the overall Advent business he was also responsible for the Advisory Market Unit. He joined SS&C in 2015 when the company acquired Advent Software. He joined Advent Software in 2011 when Black Diamond, where he was serving as CEO, was acquired by Advent. Prior to Advent and Black Diamond, he worked with Charles Schwab in various leadership roles within their adviser custody and 401k businesses. Welling holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Middlebury College and a master’s degree from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

NEXTTodd Organization Hires Partner for Executive Benefits Consulting

Todd Organization Hires Partner for Executive Benefits Consulting

National executive benefits consulting firm The Todd Organization announced Kurt Snyder has joined its St. Louis office as a partner.

Snyder brings with him 15 years of experience in the executive benefits industry serving financial institutions. He’s versed in the design, financing and administration of executive benefit and bank-owned life insurance plans. He’s worked for various financial institutions from community banks to large money center institutions.

Snyder began his career with The Todd Organization in 2002 as a financial analyst in its Greensboro, North Carolina, office. In 2007, following a strategic partnership that Todd formed with the Newport Group, Snyder joined the Newport Group where he held several positions of increasing responsibility throughout the next 10 years, most recently as vice president of Financial Institutions.

“Kurt Snyder knows how to help financial institutions put in place customized, highly effective executive benefits programs. He has a deep understanding of all issues pertaining to executive benefits and bank-owned life insurance, and will be a great addition to our team,” says Bob Scharff, a senior consultant for The Todd Organization, based in its St. Louis office.