Retirement Industry People Moves

Cerity Partners merges with wealth management firm; Prime Capital names Qualified Plan Advisors leader; MassMutual hires worksite distribution head; and more.

Art by Subin Yang

Art by Subin Yang

Cerity Partners Merges with Wealth Management Firm

Cerity Partners has merged with New York-based wealth management firm EMM Wealth. With this merger, Cerity Partners now manages approximately $26 billion in assets.

EMM Wealth is led by Lloyd Abramowitz, Co-CEO, David Aaron, Co-CEO and CIO, and Thomas O’Brien, CFO, and has $3 billion in assets under management. The firm consists of 36 employees, including investment, tax and planning professionals who provide wealth management services —investment advisory, tax and financial planning, trust and estate planning, and philanthropic planning. EMM Wealth also offers clients family office services, trust and fiduciary advisement, family governance, next-gen education, and a variety of other related offerings.

“Our firm has over 50 years of experience delivering comprehensive wealth management, family office, tax and investment advisory services. Cerity Partners’ broad range of services match and complement our own, making it the perfect firm to help us grow and expand what we offer to our clients,” says Aaron.

Abramowitz says, “We found Cerity Partners to be the perfect partner for EMM Wealth as they share our belief that effective wealth management extends beyond monetary assets to every aspect of life that wealth touches.”

This expanded team enables Cerity Partners to enhance its service offerings for clients in New York and across the country. As of January 1, 2020, EMM Wealth has taken on Cerity Partners’ name and branding.

“Cerity Partners welcomes the talented group at EMM Wealth, and we look forward to the great work we will be able to accomplish under one roof by sharing our relative expertise and value for client relationships,” says Cerity Partners CEO and president, Kurt Miscinski. “The EMM team provides us with different perspectives and experiences, while simultaneously celebrating similar business philosophies—we are excited to grow together.”

Prime Capital Names Qualified Plan Advisors Leader

Prime Capital Investment Advisors, LLC (PCIA) announced that Matthew Eickman has been named national retirement practice leader for its Qualified Plan Advisors brand.  

“Matthew is the perfect person to lead our retirement plan advisory business moving forward,” says Glenn Spencer, chief executive officer. “He is a nationally respected leader in the retirement plan advisory space and an ERISA expert. We have built a national brand and Matthew’s leadership will take us to even greater heights. Plan sponsors value a retirement consulting firm that is practical, innovative and participant-focused.”

Eickman is an attorney specializing in Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) practices who currently serves as both the director of ERISA Services for Qualified Plan Advisors, and the managing director of PCIA’s Omaha operations. He provides fiduciary training, investment policy statement oversight and design, and vendor benchmarking. He is also a member of the firm’s investment advisory committee, serves as co-chair of the Defined Contribution Plan Subcommittee for the American Bar Association’s Tax Section, and holds FINRA series 7 and 66 registrations.

“Scott Colangelo developed QPA to provide real financial solutions to employees through in-person, one-on-one training,” says Eickman. “With today’s tight job market, employers are looking to stand out when competing for talent. They recognize our services as a high-value benefit, and it’s exciting to continue Scott’s vision and dedication to their retirement plan needs.”

MassMutual Hires Worksite Distribution Head

Bradley Ridnour has been appointed head of Worksite Distribution for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), responsible for sales of voluntary and executive benefits at the workplace.

“Brad brings decades of industry experience and a proven track record of success across many disciplines in financial services. His varied experience and success in growing sales across the industry make him the right fit for this pivotal role,” says Shefali Desai, head of Worksite. “Brad’s appointment and the expansion of the worksite distribution team represents a huge commitment by MassMutual to grow its voluntary and executive benefits business and support financial wellness at the workplace.”

Ridnour, who reports to Desai, oversees a team of 14 wholesalers who work with producers and financial advisers to promote sales of MassMutual’s voluntary and executive benefits.  The worksite wholesalers coordinate with MassMutual’s nationwide team of managing directors who support sales of 401(k)s and other defined contribution (DC) retirement savings plans. 

Before joining MassMutual, Ridnour grew sales for Transamerica Employee Benefits, Trustmark Voluntary Benefit Solutions and Voya Financial. He most recently led broker relations as a vice president with Direct Path Health, LLC of Atlanta.

With a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa, Ridnour also has a Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designations as well as life and accident insurance licenses.

Transamerica Increases Client Engagement Team for Mega/Large Plans

Transamerica has expanded its client engagement team for mega/large retirement plans with the elevation of Andrea Thompson and Manny Pedro. The company also announced that Sarah McEleney, Joe Centofanti, and Kevin McDonald joined the company as client executives.

Thompson has previously worked in customer service at Transamerica focusing on mid-size retirement plans. She holds a master’s degree from The University of Hartford and is a certified financial planner (CFP). She will report to John Taylor, regional director.

Pedro was elevated to senior client executive. He will serve clients across the country that use Transamerica’s Total Retirement Outsourcing and report to Stefanie Signorello, regional director.

McEleney joins Transamerica with 15 years of experience in the employee benefits industry. She is an accredited investment fiduciary through the Center for Fiduciary Studies, and a certified plan fiduciary adviser through the National Association of Plan Advisors. She will be based in Tampa, Florida, and report to Robert Rooney, regional director.

Centofanti returns to Transamerica to focus on large-market retirement plans in New York City and surrounding areas. With 22 years of experience specifically in customer service of retirement plans, he holds a bachelor’s degree from Pace University. He will report to Matt Hummel, regional director.

McDonald joins Transamerica with more than 20 years of experience in relationship management and retirement plans. He will focus primarily on helping large retirement plan clients in Ohio and surrounding areas. McDonald holds a bachelor’s degree from Marietta College.  He will report to Taylor.

Mercer Adds Investments and Retirement Business Leader

Mercer has hired Brandi Wust as Tri-State Business Leader for its investments and retirement business.

In this newly created position, Wust will help Mercer drive strategic initiatives and define and implement the company’s local business strategy for the greater New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. She will also play a role in the company’s business development efforts through acquiring new clients as well as expanding relationships with current clients.

Wust brings over 20 years of experience to the role, providing strategic investment solutions to clients with a wide range of institutional asset pools.

Most recently, she served as a senior director and the Northeast Investment leader at Willis Towers Watson, where she focused on identifying, cultivating and expanding client opportunities in the investment space. She is based in New York and will be reporting to Marc Cordover, senior partner and east wealth business leader for Mercer effective immediately.

RiskFirst Hires Former PBGC Head

Fintech company RiskFirst has appointed Charles Millard to develop its North American defined benefit (DB) pensions client base, which includes pension plans, consultants and asset managers.

RiskFirst provides risk analytics and reporting solutions to the pensions and investment markets through its platform PFaroe.

Millard has held senior positions within the industry for nearly 20 years, including at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), Citigroup and BP Direct Securities.

“RiskFirst is a leading organization with cutting-edge technology, and I am extremely pleased to become part of the team,” comments Millard. “I am looking forward to helping RiskFirst advance its client base and, through the power of its technology, helping to ensure North American pensions can meet the challenges of an increasingly complex market.”

Segal Acquires Public-Sector Implementation Services Provider

Segal has acquired LRWL Inc., provider of public-sector retirement systems implementation services.

The LRWL team has become part of Segal’s Administration, Technology and Consulting (ATC) practice.

“In acquiring LRWL, we are building on Segal’s strong core competencies and enhancing our ability to support public-sector retirement systems,” says David Blumenstein, president and CEO of Segal. “Our strengths complement each other, and this acquisition reaffirms Segal’s continued commitment to providing public-sector entities with the highest level of consulting services.”

“We look forward to offering clients access to Segal’s robust consulting capabilities,” says Leon Wechsler, president of LRWL, who has joined Segal as vice president and senior consultant. “Both of our companies are known for assisting clients through a personalized approach rather than providing the one-size-fits-all approach. We will soon be able to offer even more personalized options to meet client needs.”

Former AXA Equitable Life Rebrands

Equitable–formerly known as AXA Equitable Life–unveiled the brand it will operate under as an independent, U.S.-based company.

“Today we herald the next step in our journey as an independent company,” says Equitable CEO Mark Pearson. “Throughout our 160-year history, we have helped millions of Americans reach their goals and achieve financial security. As one of this country’s most enduring brands, the name Equitable is at the core of our commitment to help clients secure financial well-being so they can pursue long and fulfilling lives.”

The company offers variable annuities, tax-deferred investment and retirement plans, employee benefits, and protection solutions for individuals, families and small businesses. Equitable’s broad portfolio is distributed through an affiliated retail channel, Equitable Advisors, with approximately 4,330 registered and licensed financial professionals, and through third-party distribution platforms.

The company has changed its logo, now representative of the Greek goddess Athena. The new logo is said to signal Equitable’s values of optimism, empowerment and progression.

“We believe at the heart of every financial decision is a life decision,” says Equitable President Nick Lane. “To be fully invested and deliver the best advice and strategies, we must know our clients as individuals. Financial planning can be a deeply emotional and personal subject, and our promise is to take a lifelong, holistic view of our clients’ goals, dreams and aspirations so we can help them navigate their unique journeys.”