Retirement Industry People Moves

Aviva Investors Appoints Head of U.S. Equities; Past Wholesaler Forms Retirement Plan Consulting Firm; Alternatives Business Expert Joins Franklin Templeton; and more.

Aviva Investors has appointed Susan Schmidt as head of U.S. Equities, according to a representative of the firm.

This follows the arrival in January of David Cumming as chief investment officer, Equities. Schmidt, who has over 25 years’ experience in the investment industry, will be based in Chicago and reports to  Cumming. 

Prior to Aviva Investors, Schmidt spent three years as a senior portfolio manager covering small and mid-cap US equities for investment management company Westwood Holdings Group. While there, she was a member of internal committees that evaluated strategic positioning and helped to oversee the development and management of the corporate business plan. 

“We are delighted to welcome Susan to Aviva Investors. She is a high-calibre and experienced investment professional, and her arrival further signals our commitment to having strong integrated teams across all key areas of the Equities market,” says Cumming. “We plan to add resources to further strengthen the U.S. team over the coming months.” 



Past Wholesaler Forms Retirement Plan Consulting Firm

A former wholesaler in the retirement industry has created a new firm, focused on employer-sponsored retirement plan consulting. Chris Giovinazzo recently launched Fiduciary Retirement Plan Services for all plan types, including, 401(k), nonqualified deferred compensation (NQDC), cash balance, and defined benefit (DB).

Prior to starting Fiduciary Retirement Plan Services, Giovinazzo spent six years wholesaling for retirement plan providers in the industry, reviewing retirement plans ranging from startups to $50,000,000 in assets. During this period, he learned to service retirement plans from a holistic perspective, including but not limited to investments, recordkeeping systems, operations, conversions, financial wellness, employee education and enrollment, plan design and fee benchmarking. 

The firm is a concierge financial advisory and consulting practice focused purely on employer-sponsored retirement plans. It focuses on helping employers understand and mitigate their fiduciary liability while helping their employees reach retirement readiness.


Alternatives Business Expert Joins Franklin Templeton

Franklin Templeton Investments appointed a senior managing director of its Alternative Strategies group. Shane Clifford will focus on the global growth strategy and business development for the business, and will report to Mat Gulley, executive vice president, head of Alternatives for Franklin Templeton. He is expected to work closely with K2 Advisors as an area of focus, as well as with the rest of the Alternatives team.

“We are excited to welcome someone of Shane’s caliber to the Alternatives management team at Franklin Templeton. He is a proven leader, having developed new and grown existing product and business lines in the alternatives space for global firms—specifically in private equity and infrastructure investing,” says Gulley. “Shane will provide valuable insight to Franklin Templeton’s Alternatives team, and we very much look forward to leveraging his well-rounded experience to help expand our alternatives offerings.”

Franklin Templeton’s Alternatives capabilities include private equity, hedge, commodities, real estate, infrastructure and venture capital strategies from Darby Overseas Investments, Franklin Real Asset Advisors, Franklin Venture Partners, K2 Advisors, Pelagos Capital Management, Templeton Global Macro and Templeton Private Equity Partners.

Clifford has nearly 20 years in the industry, including many years in the alternatives business. He most recently served as senior managing director, global head of corporate strategy at EnTrustPermal, where he was a member of the management team working on the combination of Permal and EnTrust and was responsible for transitioning Permal’s institutional clients to the new firm.

Clifford received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Limerick in Ireland and an MBA from Boston University Graduate School of Management.



Pentegra Names TPA Operations Director

Pentegra named Thad Coward as director of TPA operations. Coward will lead Pentegra’s third-party administrator (TPA) operations, overseeing Pentegra’s TPA divisions in Blacklick, Ohio; Charlotte, North Carolina and Greenville, South Carolina. Coward will report to Lance Kesterson, regional senior vice president, TPA Services, and will be based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Pentegra Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Michael Palmiere says, “Thad is an accomplished and talented addition to our growing team. With more than twenty years of experience in the industry, he brings operational depth and a strong track record of professional success to Pentegra. Thad will be instrumental in working with our TPA operations teams to ensure that Pentegra is well positioned to meet the growing demand for our expert 3(16) fiduciary outsourcing and premium TPA services.”

Prior to joining Pentegra, Coward served as manager at Ascensus, where he was responsible for quality control and compliance production for over 800 retirement plans.  Previously, he was a senior compliance analyst with The Newport Group. He also served for more than twenty years in the U.S. Air National Guard, where he retired as a Master Sergeant.

Coward holds a BBA in Accounting with a double major in Mathematics from Francis Marion University along with the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA) Qualified Pension Administrator (QPA) and Qualified 401(k) Administrator (QKA) designations. 


PGIM Real Estate Promotes and Hires Leadership

PGIM Real Estate, the real estate investment business of PGIM, promoted David Skinner to global head and hired Sara Shean as an executive director of the firm’s defined contribution (DC) practice.

“In recognition of the evolving trends in pension systems in the United States and around the world, PGIM Real Estate is bolstering its defined contribution practice and capabilities to better serve plan sponsors and their consultants,” says Mark Chamieh, global head of business development for PGIM Real Estate. “The expansion of our defined contribution platform is aligned with our commitment to helping these sponsors incorporate direct commercial real estate and real estate securities into their portfolios to improve participant outcomes.”

Skinner’s new role is in addition to his role as a portfolio manager for PGIM Real Estate’s two daily-valued real estate portfolios. Skinner will partner with PGIM Real Estate senior leadership globally to further evolve product development strategy for defined contribution markets in Europe and Asia Pacific. 

Shean joined PGIM Real Estate as an executive director and a senior member of the DC practice. She will primarily focus on developing relationships with U.S.-based defined contribution plans and their consultants. She will also work to expand PGIM Real Estate’s defined contribution products. Based in Madison, New Jersey, Shean reports to Skinner.

Skinner has 20 years of defined contribution experience and over 30 years of investment management industry experience. He is currently on the executive board of the DCREC and was formerly co-president from 2012 to 2015. He also sits on PREA’s Defined Contribution Affinity Group. 

Shean has nearly 20 years of defined contribution experience across asset classes and multi-asset portfolios. Prior to joining PGIM Real Estate, she served as the head of institutional defined contribution for Cohen & Steers. Earlier, Shean was a vice president and senior defined contribution investment strategist with JPMorgan Retirement Plan Services. Shean has a bachelor’s degree in applied economics and business management from Cornell University and is a certified financial planner. She sits on the boards of the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association (DCIIA) and DCREC and is a member of the National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators (NAGDCA).


San Francisco-Based Advisory Firm Rebrands

SLW Retirement Plan Advisors, a retirement advisory firm based in San Francisco, has rebranded as Teros Advisors

For Founder and President Nate White, the new brand reflects the firm’s commitment to flexibility and continuous innovation in a rapidly evolving industry. 

“We’ve been successful in business for more than twenty years, and we never want to grow complacent,” says White. “We’re continuously looking for ways to expand our offerings and better serve our clients.” 

Working with clients in wide range of industries, Teros Advisors offers comprehensive retirement plan consulting services including investment fiduciary management, plan governance, participant education, and general plan management. Even more important than their list of services is their approach to service, according to White.

“Being independent means our advice and recommendations are always unbiased. Our only allegiance is to our clients, and that’s one thing that will never change,” he says.