Retirement Industry People Moves

Mesirow Adds Managing Director to Core Fixed Income Management Team; Client Executive Joins Transamerica Western Region; Ascensus Acquires Continental Benefits and 401k Plus; and more.

Mesirow Financial has added Christopher Langs to its Core Fixed Income Management team as managing director. Langs will serve as a portfolio manager and credit analyst. In this role, he will be responsible for the oversight of portfolio construction and trade implementation. Langs strengthens the team with a strong track record of providing objective, strategic solutions that address each client’s unique set of circumstances, the firm says.

“Chris will play a strategic role in the continued success of our business as well as the deployment of new strategies to augment our existing capabilities,” says Peter Hegel, head of Core Fixed Income Management. “I am confident he will help us continue to add value for our clients now and well into the future.”

Langs has more than 26 years of investment management experience. He joins Mesirow Financial most recently from GW&K Investment Management in Boston. In his role, he was a portfolio manager and vice president, managing U.S. high yield and investment grade corporate bond strategies for both institutional and retail clients. Prior to GW&K, he was a portfolio manager at Calamos Investments and Aviva Investors.

He is a CFA charterholder as well as a member of The Boston Securities Analyst Society and The Fixed Income Management Society of Boston. He earned a BA from Purdue University and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Client Executive Joins Transamerica Western Region

Walt Waldin has joined the Transamerica western region client management team, focusing on serving large-market retirement plan clients. Waldin will be a client executive and will report to Heather Cheda, regional director, Workplace Solutions.

Walt Waldin has worked in the retirement plan industry for twenty years, focused mostly on consultative and managerial roles.  He is a retirement plans associate with the International Federation of Employee Benefit Plans. Waldin has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from California State University, Sacramento.  He will be based in Oakland, California, and will work with plan sponsor clients in Northern California.

PlanSource Adds Jellyvision’s Benefits Counselor to Platform

PlanSource has partnered with Jellyvision to integrate ALEX, Jellyvision’s interactive benefits counselor, into the PlanSource benefits administration system.

Jellyvision’s ALEX uses behavioral science, non-jargon language and humor to engage employees and offer personalized, confidential guidance on topics like choosing a health care insurance plan, saving for retirement, managing health care costs or navigating a life event.

PlanSource offers a configurable and flexible benefits system with advanced tools for benefits shopping, enrollment, billing, compliance and administration, designed to accommodate all types of benefits strategies. The integration of ALEX directly into the PlanSource platform will make it easier (and more enjoyable) for employees to learn about, shop for, and enroll in their employer-provided benefits.

“ALEX has been a big part of the Clif Bar benefits team for years,” says Chrissy Morss, benefits manager at Clif Bar, a PlanSource and Jellyvision customer. “As we’ve grown and changed as an organization, employees have consistently found ALEX lovely and helpful, and the Clif Bar team has added something new to our ALEX lineup every year to keep giving our employees more of the interactive education and decision support they love.”

“ALEX accomplishes something truly valuable,” says Dayne Williams, CEO of PlanSource. “He takes the mystery and guesswork out of benefits and expertly guides employees through an incredibly complicated process so that they can obtain valuable benefits coverage personalized to their unique situation.” 

Ascensus Acquires Continental Benefits and 401k Plus

Ascensus has entered into an agreement to acquire Continental Benefits Group, Inc. (Continental Benefits) and 401k Plus. These third-party administration (TPA) firms will immediately become part of Ascensus’ TPA Solutions division.   

Continental Benefits is based in Burlington, New Jersey and specializes in tax-qualified retirement plans—like 401(k), profit sharing, cash balance, and pension plans—along with non-qualified deferred compensation plans. According to Ascensus, the firm’s plan administrators specialize in retirement plans, ranging from compliance testing to distribution processing.

“At Continental Benefits, we understand the challenges that business owners face, including rising taxes and business expenses, retaining talented employees, and others,” says David Hanisco, Continental Benefits’ vice president. “Joining Ascensus will make us even better equipped to design retirement programs that meet plan participants’ needs while helping employers work toward accomplishing their own retirement goals.”

Based in Arlington, Texas, 401k Plus provides employers with comprehensive benefit plan administrative and consulting services. The firm focuses in developing and administering participant-directed 401(k) plans, but also offers cash balance plans, traditional defined benefit (DB) plans, profit sharing plans, and money purchase pension plans, according to Ascensus.

“As an organization, 401k Plus does a phenomenal job of getting to know their clients so that they can understand their businesses and employees,” says Jerry Bramlett, head of TPA Solutions. “This high-touch approach to service aligns nicely with the way that TPA Solutions engages with clients—we’re looking forward to strengthening our team through the addition of 401k Plus’ associates.” 


Industry Veterans Join OneAmerica

OneAmerica has brought aboard two veteran retirement plan professionals to serve as regional sales directors, primarily working with clients with $25 million-and-under assets, its core markets. 

Chuck Stinson is based in Charlotte, with a territory of North Carolina, South Carolina and the western part of Virginia. The 21-year veteran joined OneAmerica in June from Ascensus, where he was regional vice president of sales. 

“Chuck has a proven track record of success in building strong relationships with advisers in the retirement services arena,” says Todd Smiser, vice president of Sales, Retirement Services, Eastern Region. “He brings extensive knowledge in the areas of the industry that matter most to our stakeholders.” 

Stinson has experience working with multiple qualified plan tax codes—401(k), 403(b), 457, defined benefit (DB) and employee stock ownership plans—as well as plan design, defined contribution (DC) employee benefit (ERISA) law, employee benefits and financial markets. 

“My personal philosophy on behalf of our clients isn’t just to ‘check the retirement plan box’, but to add value by helping Plan Sponsors develop the ideal retirement plan program that fits their needs and those of their employees,” Stinson says. “OneAmerica is the perfect place to do that. We have the scale to provide the right resources, because we are large enough to add value, yet still maintain the nimbleness to offer customized solutions.” 

Newly hired Travis Matthews is based in West Hartford, Connecticut, and joined OneAmerica in June from MassMutual, where he worked directly with third-party administrators (TPAs) and financial advisers. Matthews, a United States Army veteran, holds the Qualified Plan Financial Consultant (QPFC) professional designation for financial professionals who sell, advise, market or support qualified retirement plans. 

“Travis has a keen sense of the issues that retirement plan advisers face from a variety of perspectives through 13 years of identifying challenges, and providing solutions that matter most,” says Smiser. “We’re excited for him to begin to apply his talents on behalf of OneAmerica.” 

Matthews will work a four-state region of Connecticut, Western Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont. 

“I came to OneAmerica to further my career, collaborating with advisers, TPAs and plan sponsors,” says Matthews. “I was blown away by the diversity of retirement plan solutions that OneAmerica can offer to organizations and businesses to help them meet their retirement goals.” 


BPAS Expands HSA Services with New Sales Specialist

BPAS has added a health savings account (HSA) sales specialist to their team.

Hannie Spitzack will work with BPAS partners to expand its Roadways HSA product across the national market. With single sign on, an open architecture investment platform that mirrors the plan sponsors’ defined contribution (DC) plan offerings, combined statements, and integrated online and onsite participant education, the BPAS Roadways HSA serves participant spenders and investors alike. There are no requirements for low‐yielding money market or bank deposit balances. Participants can invest first dollar and choose from an array of investments selected by the adviser, and they have debit card access to their account.

“At BPAS, we have leveraged our retirement services platform to provide for HSA online enrollment, contribution rate changes, utilization reports, and targeted messaging, making it easy for our plan sponsors to adopt,” says Barry Kublin, BPAS CEO. “With Hannie on board, we’re able to expand our delivery of the industry’s premier HSA offering.”

Spitzack comes to BPAS with a background in employee benefits, specifically in health insurance. Prior to joining BPAS, she was a sales specialist with Providence Health & Services and a benefits account manager with Oak Tree Insurance. She holds a bachelor of science from Minnesota State University and is licensed in Health and Life Insurance. She is also certified in Lean Six Sigma.


USI Names VP of Retirement Services in Texas Office

USI Consulting Group has announced that Daniel Simonsen, CPFA, has been named vice president of retirement services for the Austin, Texas office. In this role, Simonsen will be responsible for helping plan sponsors navigate the complex challenges associated with their fiduciary responsibilities.

Bart Ballinger, senior vice president and regional sales director for USI Consulting Group, says: “Dan brings a wealth of experience in corporate retirement planning, a client-focused vision, and a strong reputation for helping plan sponsors achieve their retirement goals while supporting their employees. His experience will be invaluable to the southwest region as we continue to invest in new talent and grow our market share in Texas. We are thrilled to welcome Dan to the team.”

Prior to joining USI Consulting Group, Simonsen was a retirement plan consultant for a regional bank program developing qualified plan 401(k), 403(b) and defined benefit (DB) pension plans. Simonsen received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Azusa Pacific University. Industry education and designations include: FINRA administered Series 7, 63 and 65; CPFA, Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor designation through the National Association of Plan Advisors.