Retirement Industry People Moves

Aegon Asset Management names EM debt leader; a new chief marketing officer joins Jennison Associates; Gallagher appoints a consultant to retirement plan leader; and more.

Art by Subin Yang

Aegon Asset Management Names EM Debt Leader

Aegon Asset Management has announced that Jeff Grills has joined the firm as head of emerging markets debt.

Grills is responsible for the portfolio management of emerging markets strategies and leading the emerging markets debt team. His first day with Aegon AM was November 4.

“Jeff brings extensive experience managing EMD sovereigns and corporates, in hard currency as well as blended portfolios,” says Jim Schaeffer, deputy CIO. “With more than 25 years of investment experience, combined with his experience leading successful EMD teams, we look forward to his contributions to Aegon’s strategies within this growing area of our business.”

Prior to joining Aegon AM, Grills was a partner at Gramercy Funds Management and a senior portfolio manager for emerging markets strategies. He was also as a senior member of the credit investment committee responsible for overseeing investments in all credit-related strategies. Before that role, Jeff was a portfolio manager and co-head of the emerging market debt team at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. He has 26 years of industry experience and received his BS in mathematics and economics from Duke University.

“I am excited to join Aegon AM to lead an impressive, accomplished EMD team with broad knowledge across emerging markets and that is highly respected by institutional investors,” says Grills.

Chief Marketing Officer Joins Jennison Associates 

Rebecca Kniesel has joined Jennison Associates as chief marketing officer.

Kniesel will report to Lori McEvoy, Jennison’s global head of distribution. Jennison is an affiliate manager of PGIM, the global asset management business of Prudential Financial Inc.

“We are delighted to welcome Rebecca to Jennison,” says McEvoy. “Her experience, record of achievement, and approach will complement and enhance our marketing and communications efforts in support of our global distribution strategy and growth initiatives.”

Kniesel has 23 years of financial services experience and was most recently head of marketing at Voya Investment Management. Before her time at Voya, she held positions at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, including head of global asset class marketing and global head of product marketing for fixed income and liquidity. She also worked in global consultant relations at BlackRock, as a marketing manager at J.P. Morgan Private Bank, and in the private equity finance group at Deutsche Bank / Alex Brown.

Kniesel, who will work at Jennison’s New York headquarters, earned a bachelor’s degree from Villanova University. She also holds FINRA Series 7 and 63 licenses.

Gallagher Promotes Consultant to Retirement Plan Leader

Gallagher has promoted John Jurik to the role of retirement plan consulting practice leader for the U.S. region within the company’s benefits and HR consulting division

Jurik began his career with Gallagher as part of an internship program and before developing into a consultant within the retirement plan consulting practice. As a consultant in the mid to large market, his objective was to guide Gallagher’s U.S. clients in reviewing and managing their retirement programs from both an employee benefit and risk management perspective.

“Employers are increasingly aware of the stress caused by financial insecurity and its negative effects on employee and organizational wellbeing. John’s plan governance knowledge and determination to help his clients understand a multigenerational workforce and the appropriate investment and plan design to drive better participant outcomes make him a terrific fit as leader of the retirement plan consulting practice,” says Jeff Leonard, financial and retirement services practice leader at Gallagher.

“I am incredibly honored to be tapped to lead the talented team of people who work hard every day to help employers offer innovative and sustainable retirement solutions to their employees, empowering them to pursue better financial wellbeing and retirement success,” Jurik says.

Hall Benefits Law Adds ERISA Attorney to Compliance Counsel 

Hall Benefits Law has hired attorney Scott Santerre.

Santerre joined the legal team in late October as senior ERISA compliance counsel. For the previous four years, he provided in-house guidance to a large insurance company as their lead privacy attorney, spearheading multiple projects across a variety of disciplines.

Firm Manager David Hall comments on the hire, stating, “Scott brings experience as a retirement plan specialist, tax manager, and in-house counsel to bear when working with our corporate clients. His knowledge of pensions and DC plans rivals that of our most senior team members, and his exposure to the other areas in which we provide counsel is impressive.”

Santerre graduated from Boston University with a degree in psychology and received his Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School. In his years as an attorney, he has worked in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) retirement space to help clients maintain compliance with IRS and Department of Labor (DOL) regulations, and drafting and maintaining retirement plan documents and amendments. He worked as lead attorney preparing submissions to the DOL for correcting late remittance of deferrals and loan repayments. Santerre maintains the designation of qualified pension administrator (QPA) and is an active member of the American Society for Pension Professionals and Actuaries.

Prudential Retirement Announces New Customer Solutions Head

Prudential Retirement has hired Christine Lange as head of customer solutions for institutional retirement plan services.

Lange will report to Harry Dalessio, head of institutional plan solutions for Prudential Retirement.

Lange’s immediate focus will be on product development, engagement and pricing. She will also assume responsibility for underwriting and P&L for the defined contribution (DC), defined benefit (DB) and nonqualified businesses of Prudential Retirement.

“I am happy to be joining Prudential Retirement at such an exciting time for both the company and our industry,” says Lange. “I look forward to continuing to position Prudential Retirement’s full service businesses for growth and profitability through engagement with our customers in the right ways at the right times through their preferred channels.”

Most recently, Lange served as head of retirement digital solutions for Voya Financial. Prior to Voya, she led product innovation teams for both Putnam Investments and Fidelity Investments. 

Lange holds degrees from Northeastern University and Boston College. She is a member of the Council for Women at Boston College and a member of Boston College Connections, a mentoring program for undergraduates.

Lange will split her time between Connecticut and New Jersey, with Hartford as her home base.