Retirement Industry People Moves

Transamerica adds RVPs to mid-market retirement sales team; Vontobel AM selects relationship manager for U.S. west coast; Mercer appoints president for U.S. and Canada and East Market CEO; and more.

Art by Subin Yang

Transamerica Adds RVPs to Mid-Market Retirement Sales Team

Transamerica has announced that three new regional vice presidents joined its mid-market retirement sales team supporting financial intermediaries in the western portion of the country. Travis Cox, Taylor Harman and Mitch Ritz will report to Tom Briggs, divisional vice president.

Cox has joined Transamerica as regional vice president for North Texas and Oklahoma. With more than 15 years of retirement plan industry experience, Cox has background in qualified plans, retirement plan administration and behavioral finance. He graduated from Rhodes College in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in international business. Cox is based in Dallas.

Harman has been elevated to the role of regional vice president for Northeastern California and Northern Nevada. In 2017, Harman joined Transamerica to focus on retirement solutions. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas and holds a bachelor’s degree in finance. Harman is based in Roseville, California.

Ritz has been elevated to the role of Transamerica’s regional vice president for Oregon and Montana. Based in Portland, Oregon, Ritz began his career at Transamerica in 2016 after graduating from the University of Denver with a bachelor’s degree in finance. He is a chartered retirement plans specialist (CRPS) through the College for Financial Planning. 

“Transamerica is focused on providing more small and mid-sized companies access to a retirement plan that works for them. Whether that is a pooled plan or other arrangements, we are dedicated to serving the needs of small businesses,” Briggs says. “Travis, Taylor and Mitch have the skills and technical knowhow to be tremendously valuable to financial consultants and third-party administrators [TPAs]. I am grateful to have them on the team, and I have every confidence that financial advisers and third-party administrators will greatly benefit from their expertise.”

Vontobel AM Selects Relationship Manager for U.S. West Coast

Vontobel Asset Management has appointed Kristin Fenik as relationship manager to support U.S. West Coast institutional investors and deliver the firm’s multi-boutique investment offering.

Fenik brings more than 16 years of industry experience in consultant relations and engagement with institutional clients, including registered investment advisers (RIAs) and high-net-worth investors. She joins Vontobel from Cambiar Investors, where she was responsible for business development and relationship management. Prior to that, Fenik held senior-level positions in client and consultant relations at ArrowMark Partners and OppenheimerFunds. She holds a master’s of business administration (MBA) degree from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and a bachelor’s in business administration from Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business.

“Building our institutional distribution team demonstrates our commitment to strengthening our consultant engagement, direct plan sponsor approach, OCIO [outsourced chief investment officer] footprint and client experience,” says Amit Mukadam, head of the North America institutional client group. “Kristin’s solid expertise and client-focused approach with a multi-product skillset will be instrumental in advancing these efforts as we continue to expand our specialized product lineup to meet the needs of our clients.””

Commenting on her appointment, Fenik says, “I am looking forward to sharing Vontobel’s multi-boutique capabilities with the astute institutional investors of the western U.S. region.” She adds, “I am excited for our growing client partnerships as we make more of Vontobel’s high-caliber investments available to U.S. investors over the next few years.”

Mercer Appoints President for U.S. and Canada and East Market CEO

Mercer has named Pat Tomlinson as president, U.S. and Canada, reporting to Martine Ferland, president and CEO. Mercer has appointed Stephanie Penner to succeed Tomlinson in his previous role as U.S. East Market CEO. They will both continue to be based in New York.

“Both Pat and Stephanie are tremendous leaders in our business,” Ferland says. “As we navigate through and emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, we are confident they will further help us provide exceptional service and solutions to our clients while strategically growing our business throughout the U.S. We’re thrilled to welcome them to their new roles.”

Tomlinson has more than 20 years in the human resources (HR) consulting and services industry. He joined Mercer from Aon Hewitt in 2014 to lead the career business in North America. Tomlinson earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Most recently, Penner was Mercer’s tri-state office leader where she was responsible for building and strengthening local client relationships, driving revenue growth and expanding market presence across the region. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Cornerstone Wealth Promotes Executives

Cornerstone Wealth Group LLC has announced the promotions of two executives to partners.

New Partner Cliff Hodge, chief investment officer (CIO), oversees all aspects of investment due diligence with a focus on asset allocation research, security analysis, manager due diligence and portfolio construction. Based in Huntersville, North Carolina, Hodge leads the firm’s investment committee and partners with committee members on investment strategies. He is a chartered financial analyst (CFA) charter holder and has a master’s in business administration (MBA) degree from the University of South Carolina and a bachelor’s degree from Clemson University.

Jeff Powell has been named a new partner and is a wealth adviser based out of Cornerstone Wealth’s Aiken, South Carolina, office. Powell is a certified financial planner (CFP) with two decades of financial services experience. His expertise includes investment management, financial and retirement planning, and estate and tax strategies. Powell earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Florida and a master’s of science degree in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. Powell also serves on the board of directors for the Child Advocacy Center in Aiken.

“Cornerstone Wealth is delighted to announce these well-deserved promotions. Cliff and Jeff are respected industry leaders who make meaningful contributions to our clients and firm every day,” says Craig Rubrecht, chief executive officer. “As a fiduciary, Cornerstone Wealth uses a team-based approach that focuses on value-driven relationships to achieve our clients’ long-term financial goals. Each Cornerstone Wealth Partner brings a unique background, skill set and perspective to the firm and the clients we serve.”

TRA Acquires R. Bruce Tanner & Associates

The Retirement Advantage Inc. (TRA) has acquired R. Bruce Tanner & Associates (RBT) of Sugar Hill, Georgia.

“RBT has been a successful firm for decades. Both of our companies have substantial expertise in delivering industry-leading solutions to our clients, built upon a shared commitment to innovative technology and strong financial and operational discipline,” says Jeff Schreiber, vice president of distribution of TRA. “TRA and RBT are a natural fit to join forces, and together will provide even greater value to clients, prospects and our financial advisory partners.”

The new team of retirement professionals will be led by owner Allison Hawkins. “I couldn’t be happier that the company my father founded is now part of TRA,” Hawkins notes. “It’s rare to find a company that focuses on the satisfaction of its clients. Best of all, TRA is committed to improvements in processing, ongoing investments in technology for greater automation and enhanced cybersecurity.”

“We look forward to integrating our workforce, culture and competencies right away,” says TRA President Matt Schoneman. “This transaction will continue to connect our employees and customers with an ever-expanding wealth of resources. We are pleased the RBT staff joining TRA will be able to continue to provide the exceptional guidance and service their clients have grown accustomed to.”

Leech Tishman Adds Veteran Employee Benefits Attorney

Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl Inc. has added Bruce J. McNeil as a new attorney to the firm.

McNeil is a fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel. He joins the firm as a partner in the Employment & Labor Practice Group. Currently residing in Seattle, McNeil will be working primarily out of Leech Tishman’s Los Angeles and Pittsburgh offices, where he will focus his practice on employee benefits matters including tax-qualified plans, executive and nonqualified deferred compensation (NQDC) plans, and the tax aspects of equity, phantom equity and employee benefits litigation.

McNeil advises clients on tax-qualified retirement plans, including 401(k), 403(b) and 457 plans, nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements, equity arrangements, split-dollar life insurance arrangements, company-owned life insurance (COLI) and other forms of executive compensation. He counsels clients on all aspects of tax-qualified and executive and nonqualified deferred compensation plans and arrangements for taxable and tax-exempt employers, employee benefit issues in mergers and acquisitions (M&As), fiduciary responsibility and prohibited transaction issues.

McNeil has practiced before the IRS, the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) in examinations, correction programs and ruling requests. He has served as an expert in federal hearings and investigations, including testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, the U.S. DOL Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) Advisory Council and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

McNeil serves on the board of directors of both the Plan Sponsor Council of America (PSCA) and the Western Pension & Benefit Council. He is the editor-in-chief of both the Journal of Pension Planning & Compliance and the Journal of Deferred Compensation: Nonqualified Plans and Executive Compensation, published by Wolters Kluwer. He has authored more than 40 books on employee benefit matters, including nonqualified deferred compensation plans, published by Thomson Reuters, and more than 100 articles on related topics.

“Bruce is a nationally renowned expert in the field of employee benefits,” says Philip A. Toomey, Leech Tishman’s Employment & Labor chair. “In a time when many of our clients are anticipating an increase in their overall tax liability, employee benefits and deferred compensation issues remain top of mind. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to bring Bruce’s depth of experience in this field to our clients.”

Director and Consulting Actuary Joins R&M

Jim Camann has joined River and Mercantile (R&M) as a director and consulting actuary with the firm, based in Denver.

With nearly 25 years of benefit consulting experience, Camann brings a wide range of benefit plan expertise to R&M. He specializes in a variety of defined benefit (DB) and retiree medical plan projects, including plan design, pension risk transfers (PRTs), benefit administration, funding and accounting valuations, nondiscrimination testing, forecasting, and government form filings.

With more than 40 employees across the United States, River and Mercantile provides fiduciary management services to pension plans, insurance entities and other institutional investors. The firm added three new hires in its Denver office last year.

“We are delighted to welcome Jim to the team,” says Michael Clark, managing director at River and Mercantile, based in Denver. “With a demonstrated commitment to quality, we are confident that his skills and actuarial experience will help us continue to provide our clients with exceptional service and strategic solutions to meet their financial goals.”

“I’m excited to bring my retirement plan expertise to the R&M team,” Camann says. “As an actuary, I’ve developed the financial experience to solve complex business problems, all of which has prepared me well for R&M’s mission. I was attracted by the innovative culture, smart people, and especially look forward to helping our clients with all of their retirement plan needs.”

Camann was most previously with Willis Towers Watson, where he was a consulting actuary for 19 years. He graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics.