Retirement Industry People Moves

JHRPS Adds Divisional VPs; Stroock Brings Partners to New York and D.C. Offices; Northern Trust Grows Sales Team; and more.

John Hancock Retirement Plan Services (JHRPS) has appointed divisional vice presidents for strategic relationship management in two of the company’s divisions.

Jennifer White was hired in the Mid-Atlantic Division, and Benjamin Burrows promoted in the Central Division. In this role, they are responsible for leading a team of experienced strategic relationship managers charged with building and enhancing relationships with financial advisers and their clients who partner with JHRPS. Both White and Burrows report to John Fitzgerald, senior vice president, Strategic Relationship Management, Core Market, JHRPS.

 “John Hancock continues to invest in delivering outstanding service to our intermediary partners and plan sponsor customers,” says Scott Francolini, senior vice president and head of Relationship Management, JHRPS.  “The addition of Jennifer and Ben to our leadership team is further evidence of our commitment to providing localized support to key relationships in these segments.”

White joins JHRPS from Transamerica, where she worked for the past 18 years and held roles in relationship management, most recently as regional director of the Northeast Team. As regional director, she led a team of client executives, focused on advisers, clients and third-party administrators (TPAs) in the defined contribution (DC) space. In addition to driving positive asset retention and client satisfaction results, White was focused on developing her team and their individual successes.  

Stroock Brings Partners to New York and D.C. Offices

Stroock has added two partners in New York and Washington, D.C., focusing on markets and governmental plan investments, respectively. Joining in New York is capital markets and derivatives partner Akshay Belani and in Washington, D.C., Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and governmental plan investments partner Patrick Menasco. Joining Stroock with Menasco is associate Bibek Pandey.

Belani, previously a partner at Morgan Lewis, joins Stroock’s Commodities/Derivatives and Energy Group. He advises financial institutions on derivatives, futures and commodities trading, and on related structured products and capital markets transactions. His clients include hedge funds, institutional investors and broker/dealers.

Belani also focuses on regulatory and compliance issues related to Dodd-Frank derivatives regulation including rules affecting both buy- and sell-side market participants. He is actively involved in the development of standardized documentation in the over-the-counter derivatives markets and is a frequent commentator on the global derivatives market and U.S. regulations governing derivatives transactions. Belani graduated from St. John’s University School of Law in 2004 and earned his undergraduate degree from Tufts University in 1998.

Menasco, formerly a partner at Steptoe, helps domestic and foreign financial institutions navigate regulatory, compliance, and contractual matters, capital market transactions, government investigations and disputes involving highly regulated corporate and public benefit plan assets. His clients include major financial institutions, including banks, broker-dealers, asset managers, and fund service providers.

Menasco is also a frequent lecturer on employee benefit investment issues at the Practicing Law Institute in New York and has served as an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Law School for ten years. He clerked for the Honorable Gerrilyn G. Brill, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia after earning his law degree from Tulane University Law School, where he was associate editor of the Tulane Law Review. 

Northern Trust Grows Sales Team

Northern Trust Asset Management has recently expanded its institutional sales team to enhance the firm’s ability to deliver innovative investment solutions and quality client experiences.

Brian Ingram and Tim Stegner joined as directors, focusing on the corporate, non-profit and healthcare segments. Linda Ruegsegger was named director and senior relationship manager, specializing in investment solutions. Brian Lafferty joined as director and liquidity specialist.

Ingram, who has 25 years of experience in institutional asset management, covers the eastern U.S. and is based in New York. Most recently, he held an East Coast sales role at Allianz Global Investors, and prior to that served in senior distribution roles at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

Stegner covers the western U.S., based in Denver. Stegner came from Broadmark Capital, where he was a real estate specialist, and has held senior distribution roles at Nuveen Asset Management and Lattice Strategies. He also spent more than a decade leading sub-advised insurance sales at BlackRock. 

Ruegsegger is based in Chicago, specializing in helping clients in the corporate, not-for-profit and healthcare segments to identify and select investment solutions designed to meet their complex needs.

Lafferty provides liquidity solutions to clients and prospects. Based in Chicago, he will focus primarily on the western U.S., covering corporations, municipalities and financial institutions.

BlueStar Joins ABG

BlueStar Retirement Services, Inc., located in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, will be the newest retirement plan recordkeeping and consulting firm to become a licensee and join Alliance Benefit Group, LLC (ABG).

BlueStar is an independent recordkeeper and third-party administrator (TPA). 

“We’ve had a lot of friends in the ABG family for many years, and we enter this relationship with a great respect for the varied skillsets represented in this excellent group of firms that are all out there doing it right. We’re excited to dive in and be a great ABG team member,” says Tim Werner, president of BlueStar. “The networking and collaboration between the member firms is one of the many benefits of being a part of this exclusive group.” 

Genstar Acquires Majority Stake in Cetera

Genstar Capital has acquired a majority stake in Cetera Financial Group. 

Genstar is a private equity firm focused on investments in targeted segments of the financial services, software, industrial technology, and healthcare industries. The transaction is said to reflect a shared commitment to Cetera’s Advice-Centric Experience model, providing access to capital for future investments in technology, customer experience, operations, data and growth platforms for the financial advisers and financial institutions served by Cetera.

Going forward, Cetera will continue to operate under a multi-affiliation structure, through two core channels, Traditional and Specialty, that collectively serve the full spectrum of independent advisor businesses and financial institutions.

Under this new partnership, Genstar has entered into a definitive agreement with Aretec Group, Inc., the holding company for Cetera, in a transaction expected to close in the late third quarter of this year.  Under the agreement, the specific terms of which were not disclosed, Genstar will assume majority equity control of Cetera, with Cetera’s leadership team maintaining a meaningful ownership position. Genstar is the owner of Strategic Insight, PLANSPONSOR and PLANADVISER. 

Chief Operating Office Joins Russell Investments

Russell Investments has announced that Rick Smirl will join the firm in a new position as chief operating officer, effective July 30. According to the firm, Smirl has more than 25 years of industry experience, leading both operations and legal functions at several investment management firms. He will oversee Russell Investments’ operations, technology, legal, compliance, risk management, internal audit and government and community relations teams and will report directly to Chairman and CEO Michelle Seitz.

Smirl joins Russell Investments from the State of Wisconsin Investment Board where he served as executive director, leading the investments, finance, legal, human resources, operations, technology and strategic planning functions. Prior to that, Smirl spent almost 14 years at William Blair Investment Management, where he served as chief operating officer for about 10 years and earlier as chief legal officer.

While at William Blair, Smirl led the development and implementation of portfolio management and accounting platforms, as well as performance attribution and customer relationship management systems. Prior to William Blair, Smirl was chief legal officer at Strong Capital Management. He also was a partner at the law firm of Los Angeles-based Keesal, Young & Logan, where he counseled financial services firms.

Voya Appoints SVP

Voya has appointed Raj Badhwar as senior vice president and chief information security officer (CISO).

Badhwar will be responsible for advancing the Voya information security strategy as well as defining associated policies and standards for achieving the strategy. He will lead a team accountable for developing, managing, and maintaining the information security and protection policies and standards for all company computing, privacy, and collection activities. 

Badhwar will be based in Voya’s Windsor, Connecticut, office and will report directly to chief information officer (CIO) Santhosh Keshavan. 

Most recently, Badhwar was global head of information security for AIG, where he led a security strategy centered on the protection and preservation of information assets.

Badhwar graduated from George Washington University with a master’s of science degree in information systems technology and holds a bachelor’s of science degree in electrical and electronics engineering from Karnatak University.