Retirement Industry People Moves

Barrow, Hanley Hires Director of Client Development for Fixed Income Strategies; Former SEC Counsel Joins Morrison & Foerster as Partner; Transamerica Veterans Expand Distribution Roles; and more.

Barrow, Hanley, Mewhinney & Strauss, LLC (Barrow Hanley) announced that Bill Braxton has joined the firm as director of Client Development. Braxton, who has nearly two decades of experience developing institutional clientele for investment management firms, is responsible for business development, investor relations and capital raising for Barrow Hanley’s fixed income strategies.

“We are delighted that Bill has joined Barrow Hanley as a business development and client service professional focused exclusively on our fixed income offerings,” says Cory Martin, executive director at Barrow Hanley. “Bill has an exceptional track record of building relationships with institutional clients, and his addition to our client development team reflects our commitment to meeting the needs of institutional investors in fixed income products.”

“Barrow Hanley has a strong, differentiated range of fixed income offerings, with strategies focused on producing higher returns with lower volatility based on a highly disciplined analytical, investment and risk mitigation process,” notes Braxton. “I am proud to join a firm that is well-regarded for its dedication to delivering value, performance and exceptional service to investors.”

Prior to joining Barrow Hanley, Braxton was managing director, Business Development and Client Partnerships, at Crestline Investors, a $9 billion-asset, Fort Worth-based alternative investment manager focused on private credit investments. At Crestline, he was responsible for the firm’s relationships with institutional investors and consultants. Earlier, Braxton worked in Merrill Lynch’s hedge fund group in New York, where he was responsible for manager due diligence as well as internal and external capital raising efforts for several strategies. He began his career as a financial analyst at IBM, after receiving his BBA in Finance from The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. 

Braxton holds an MBA with a dual concentration in Finance and Entrepreneurship from the Wharton School of Business. He also serves as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Texas Alternative Investment Association and is the treasurer and a member of the Board of Directors of VolunteerNow.

SSGA Appoints Head of SPDR ETF Distribution

State Street Global Advisors, the asset management business of State Street Corporation, announced the appointment of Sue Thompson as head of Americas Distribution for SPDR ETFs [exchange-traded funds], effective immediately. Thompson will be based in Boston and report to Rory Tobin, global head of SPDR ETFs. 

In this newly created role, Thompson will be responsible for developing and leading the SPDR ETF distribution strategy across all client channels in the Americas, including institutional, intermediary and strategic relationships. 

Thompson joins the SPDR business from Thompson Peak Advisory where she was CEO and president of her own consulting firm, advising some of the world’s largest and most sophisticated investment managers on their growth and distribution strategies. In her more than 20-year career, Thompson has held senior positions at BlackRock, where she was responsible for growing the iShares franchise with the intermediary and institutional asset manager channels in the Americas. Prior to BlackRock, Thompson worked at Vanguard, where she held a number of positions, culminating in a senior role in developing its ETF business. 

“Sue brings a wealth of knowledge on the global asset management industry in general, and ETFs in particular,” says Tobin. “Her leadership, strategic insight and deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing US investors will be invaluable in serving our clients.” “Through her involvement in Women in ETFs, Sue is recognized for recruiting, developing and mentoring future leaders and has played a significant role in nurturing female talent across the ETF industry.”

Thompson holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Washington, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis School of Law and a member of the California State Bar Association. Thompson is also active in supporting female executives within the ETF industry, serving on the board of Women in ETFs, where she was a founding member. 


John Hancock Appoints VP of Operations

John Hancock Retirement Plan Services (JHRPS) appointed Steven Hutcheon as vice president, Operations. In this role, he is accountable for overseeing the operations for all products marketed by JHRPS.

Operations functions reporting to Hutcheon include client services, participant services, new business onboarding, audit and risk management, plan administration, compliance testing and reporting and trading operations. Hutcheon has a dual reporting role to Patrick Murphy, JHRPS CEO, and Sebastian Pariath, chief operations officer and CIO, John Hancock.

Hutcheon joins JHRPS Operations from JHRPS Technology & Delivery Management where he was responsible for project delivery as well as overseeing the integration of the John Hancock and New York Life retirement plan services businesses.

Hutcheon joined John Hancock in 2002 as a team lead in Business Analysis in the Manulife Private Account business and subsequently held roles of increasing responsibility in the company’s Annuities, Signator, and Retirement Plan Services businesses. He was promoted to assistant vice president in 2011. He has been recognized with the company’s highest employee honor in both 2007 and 2010 for outstanding accomplishments.

Prior to joining John Hancock, Hutcheon worked at Liberty Funds Services Inc, now part of Columbia Threadneedle Investments. He is a graduate of Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland, with a BA in Business and holds FINRA Series 6, 63, and 65 licenses.


Former SEC Counsel Joins Morrison & Foerster as Partner

Morrison & Foerster announced that Michael Birnbaum has joined the firm’s Securities Litigation, Enforcement and White-Collar Defense Practice Group (SLEW) as a partner in New York.

Coming from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Birnbaum follows numerous other senior government officials who have joined Morrison & Foerster over recent years. He will represent financial institutions, corporations, and individuals in regulatory enforcement proceedings, internal and government investigations, and civil securities litigation. 

Birnbaum spent the last 11 years at the SEC, most recently as senior trial counsel. He previously spent eight years in private practice.   

“Michael’s extensive trial and investigations experience will further strengthen our already deep bench of securities and enforcement litigators,” says Jordan Eth, co-chair of Morrison & Foerster’s SLEW Group. “Michael brings up-to-the-minute SEC enforcement knowledge and an impressive investigative and enforcement background.”

At the SEC, Birnbaum was involved in matters regarding domestic and foreign financial companies, including commercial and investment banks, audit and accounting firms, investment advisers, and broker-dealers. He has a wide range of investigative experience, including insider trading, Investment Advisers and Investment Company Act violations, disclosure fraud, data breaches, and cryptocurrency matters.


D.A. Davidson & Co. to Use Envestnet Platform

Envestnet announced that D.A. Davidson & Co., an employee-owned full service investment firm headquartered in Montana, will implement Envestnet’s comprehensive integrated platform, supporting D.A. Davidson’s $41.5 billion in assets and approximately 400 advisers.

“Envestnet is thrilled with the opportunity to partner with a firm of the caliber of D.A. Davidson,” says John Yackel, executive managing director at Envestnet. “The new partnership will enhance the client and adviser experience while delivering scale and efficiencies to the home office at D.A. Davidson.”

D.A. Davidson will be revamping its advisory platform with Envestnet’s software solutions—data analytics, fiduciary solutions, portfolio accounting tools, and performance reporting to name a few—that empower advisers to deliver better client outcomes. Advisers will have access to advanced technology integration, including comprehensive financial tools and digital advice technology to help them better engage with clients, as well as streamline and enhance advisers’ daily practice.

“This partnership reinforces our continued drive to put clients first by providing our financial advisers with access to Envestnet’s innovative integrated technology, data and planning tools,” says Tim Austin, chief operations & information officer, D.A. Davidson. 

“These investments enable our current advisers to enhance their practice of managing wealth, as well as allow us to attract more advisory-based financial advisers in the future,” says Joely Meighan, SVP director of Managed Assets.

The Envestnet platform will be available to D.A. Davidson financial advisers in the fall.

LGIMA Expands Distribution Team

Legal & General Investment Management America, Inc. (LGIMA)
announced two appointments to the Distribution team.

Greg Fedorinchik joins LGIMA as head of distribution, and will focus on overseeing and driving the direction for marketing and sales, reporting to Jodan Ledford—head of client solutions and multi-asset. Fedorinchik comes most recently from Mesirow Advanced Strategies, where he held multiple roles over his ten years there, most recently as president. Prior, he served as head of the portfolio management team, and previously, was head of the global client relationship team. Prior to Mesirow, Fedorinchik was with Brinson Partners, the predecessor to UBS Global Asset Management, for 14 years. His last role there was executive director and senior strategist for global investment solutions.

Shauna Lambright Conza joins LGIMA as a senior investment director, reporting to Fedorinchik. Conza will be focused on public and Taft-Hartley institutions, broadening LGIMA’s presence within that investor channel.

Conza brings over 25 years of experience and comes from Pavilion Global Markets in Chicago, where she was a managing director. Prior, she founded Lambright Financial Solutions which was later acquired by Knight Capital Americas. Conza serves on various boards and committees of community outreach organizations in Chicago.

“We continue to focus on driving meaningful investment outcomes for our clients,” says Jodan Ledford, head of client solutions and multi-asset. “Greg and Shauna bring vast industry knowledge and experience to LGIMA, and we are thrilled to welcome them to our team.”


Hub Acquires The Barnett Group

Hub International Limited (Hub), a global insurance brokerage, has acquired the assets of Barnett Corporate Insurers, LLC (The Barnett Group).

Headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, The Barnett Group has grown over a period of 32 years to provide employee benefits for more than 75,000 individuals. The company’s areas of expertise encompass the design, implementation and administration of insurance plans and wellness programs.

The Barnett Group has affiliations with more than 80 insurance carriers and third-party administrators, allowing the firm to offer companies a broad array of employee benefit plans.

“Joining Hub allows us to leverage the resources of one of the largest insurance brokers and further build on our commitment to customer service,” says Ed Barnett, founder and president of The Barnett Group. “We are extremely pleased with the opportunity for growth and to be a part of a company that shares our culture and commitment to clients’ success. The Barnett Group staff will continue to service our clients, who will receive on an ongoing basis, customized guidance and best-in-class service, as well as a more robust suite of retirement and benefit solutions.”

The Barnett Group will join Hub Gulf South, headed by president, Steve Terry, and will continue to operate under the leadership of Barnett.

“We’re excited for The Barnett Group to join and strengthen our Hub Gulf South benefits operations,” says Terry. “Together, we will benefit all of Hub Gulf South’s clients.  We continue to expand organically and through strategic mergers and acquisitions.  Continued investments in operational efficiencies, distribution and most importantly, client service, will ensure our ability to deliver customized solutions to our customers.”


Connecticut Retirement Plans Get New CIO

Connecticut Treasurer Denise L. Nappier has named Sean Crawford as chief investment officer (CIO) of the $34 billion Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds (CRPTF), with the unanimous support of the State’s independent Investment Advisory Council (IAC). 

Crawford previously served as chief investment officer of the State of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a position he held since 2014. He oversaw the investment activity for the Authority’s $15 billion defined benefit (DB) plan, deferred compensation plan, captive insurance company and other post-employment benefits plan. He begins work at the Connecticut Treasury on Monday, May 14. 

Crawford will head the Treasury’s Pension Funds Management (PFM) Division, with responsibility for collaborating in the development and implementation of investment policy; conducting due diligence and fund performance evaluation; assisting in the recommendation of external investment advisers, consultants and other service providers; and directing the day-to-day administration of the investment program. 

“We are fortunate to have Sean’s experience and skills contributing to the important work of the Treasury’s PFM Division. As the Transportation Authority’s first chief investment officer, he built an impressive record in establishing an investment management framework and generating high performing risk-adjusted returns,” says Nappier. 

Crawford has 21 years of investment and research experience. From 2000 to 2014, Crawford held senior positions with Brown Brothers Harriman, Barclays, Lehman Brothers, and McDonald Investments. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Master of Arts in Political Economy from New York University. He has been a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst since 2005. 


Cetera Introduces Business Development Strategy and New Executive Hire  

Cetera Financial Group (Cetera) announced the launch of its new business development strategy, which leverages big data and analytics, while seamlessly integrating digital and traditional marketing, lead generation, lead capture and adviser recruiting. This new approach to business development is geared at driving adviser growth, enhancing the adviser experience, and supporting the acceleration of targeted recruiting efforts across the company’s network, including in-branch recruiting among the company’s larger affiliated enterprises and institutions.  

The formulation of this approach to business development was first announced in September last year, with the appointment of Michael Zuna, previously chief marketing & digital officer of Petco Animal Supplies, and chief marketing & sales officer of AFLAC, Inc., as Cetera’s CMO 

As part of the company’s launch of this new strategy, Cetera announced the appointment of Michael Murray to the role of head of Business Development. Murray, brings 20 years of experience in the financial advice space and most recently served as senior vice president of Business Development at LPL Financial, where he led a team of professionals supporting the recruiting and ramp-up of assets under management (AUM) for financial advisers across the country. In his new role, Murray will report directly to Cetera CMO Michael Zuna.

In his new role, Murray will assume the day-to-day leadership and management of Cetera’s network level business development function, while overseeing a planned expansion of the business development team over the coming months, to include the hiring of new professional recruiters across the country. Additionally, he will spearhead the execution of the company’s new approach to business development, while supporting in-branch recruiting among the company’s larger affiliated enterprises and institutions by helping to provide them with the expertise, resources and tools to accelerate the growth and success of their adviser recruiting efforts. 

Murray worked at LPL Financial since 2002 in a variety of business development executive roles. Prior to joining LPL Financial, he served in a number of sales executive and project management roles at Nationwide and Towers Perrin. He has a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania, and holds Series 6 and 63 securities registrations.


Voya Acquires Pen-Call to Offer Nonqualified Services

Voya has entered into an agreement to acquire Pen-Cal Administrators, Inc. (Pen-Cal), a provider of nonqualified deferred compensation benefit plans and consulting services.  As a result of the transaction, Pen-Cal will become part of Voya’s Retirement business operating unit.

“As the financial wellness needs of Americans continue to evolve, innovative compensation benefits, such as nonqualified retirement plans, are becoming an increasingly important way for employers to attract and reward key members of their workforce,” says Charlie Nelson, CEO of Retirement and Employee Benefits for Voya Financial. “This acquisition is an example of the investments we are making to facilitate growth in our businesses, and to expand the broad set of solutions we offer to enhance the client experience and improve financial outcomes for plan participants. The integration of these capabilities will also provide our plan adviser partners with the tools and resources they need to demonstrate greater value to their clients.”

Through this deal, nonqualified services will be available across all of Voya’s 401(k), 403(b) and 457 plan markets and offered as an integrated solution when Voya is administering an employer’s core defined contribution (DC) retirement plan. These best-in-class services will also be available when an employer is looking for nonqualified plan support on a stand-alone basis.

“We have seen the demand for nonqualified deferred compensation plans increase from large employers as a result of recent tax reform,” says Kirk Penland, CEO of Pen-Cal.  “We also expect interest in these plans to gain further momentum as small and mid-market companies more thoroughly understand the impact of tax reform to both their company and their key executives.”

“Bringing our businesses together will enable Voya to offer innovative, non-qualified compensation benefits along with our leading qualified plan administration services through a seamless online experience that addresses a client’s unique needs,” says Bill Harmon, president of Retirement Corporate Markets for Voya Financial. “Pen-Cal also administers disability trusts, and their technical expertise can add to the leadership we are creating in the area of special needs planning.  This supports our broader vision to make a difference in the financial wellness and retirement outcomes for all Americans.”  

The transaction is expected to close in the coming weeks, subject to customary closing conditions.  As part of the arrangement, Pen-Cal will rebrand to Voya and clients will have access to an integrated enrollment and website experience. 

Transamerica Veterans Expand Distribution Roles


Transamerica veterans Chad Brown and Deborah Rubin are expanding their leadership roles.


Rubin has been promoted to managing director, Specialty Markets and TPA. She will be responsible for leading the company’s distribution efforts for multiple employer plans and third party administrators (TPAs). She will report to Joe Boan, SVP, executive director, Individual and Workplace Market Distribution.


Brown, managing director, Large and Mega Market Retirement Plans, will have an expanded role within Transamerica’s retirement markets, with the RFP team and all retirement practice leads reporting to him. He will continue to report to Boan.


“Chad Brown will now lead our distribution efforts for large and mega market retirement plans, including corporate defined contribution, non-profit 403(b), defined benefit, Total Retirement Outsourcing, and Taft-Hartley plans. Chad will also lead our team selling group and RFP team,” Boan says.



Direct Retirement Solutions Rebrands to DirectAdvisors


Albany, New York-based, Direct Retirement Solutions has a new name—DirectAdvisors.


The company says the name change better reflects its service offerings.


“The name Direct Retirement Solutions only spoke to our retirement services and didn’t represent the full range of services we offer. DirectAdvisors encompasses everything we provide as prevailing wage plan consultants to the construction industry. It also speaks to our work as an independent fiduciary investment and advisory firm for companies that offer employee retirement plans,” says Jeff Bennett, company co-founder.


All services, including investment advisory, retirement plan consulting, and prevailing wage benefit administration, will live under the new brand.


The new brand has been rolled out with a new logo, tagline, identity and marketing materials, including a new website at