Retirement Industry People Moves

The Wagner Law Group selects attorney as ‘Of Counsel’; BlackRock hires head of sustainable investing platform; GW&K appoints several new partners; and more. 

The Wagner Law Group Selects Attorney as ‘Of Counsel’

The Wagner Law Group has announced that attorney Wayne Miller has joined the firm’s Boston office as “of counsel.”

Miller has been practicing ERISA [Employee Retirement Income Security Act], employee benefits and executive compensation law since 1981. He advises clients on a wide variety of tax-qualified retirement plan issues, including plan design, drafting and implementation, required governmental reporting and employee communications. Miller also has extensive experience with employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs).

Miller routinely counsels clients whose benefit plans are under audit by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the Department of Labor (DOL), and regularly advises clients on the correction of plan document and operational failures that could otherwise lead to plan disqualification. He has in-depth experience with correction submissions under the DOL’s Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (VFCP) and Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program (DFVCP), as well as the IRS’s Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) (both the Voluntary Correction Program and the Self Correction Program) and the Employee Plans Voluntary Closing Agreement Program (Audit CAP).

Miller also counsels clients on a wide variety of ERISA matters, including qualified plans and ERISA fiduciary and prohibited transaction issues. In addition, he advises clients with respect to the administration of welfare benefit plans and concerning the termination of employee benefit plans.

BlackRock Hires Head of Sustainable Investing Platform

BlackRock has hired Paul Bodnar to lead its sustainable investing platform. As global head of BlackRock Sustainable Investing (BSI), Bodnar will be responsible for sustainable research, analytics, product development and integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into the investment process.

“Understanding the interplay between public policy, technology and finance is absolutely critical in helping clients invest sustainably,” says Philipp Hildebrand, vice chairman of BlackRock. “Paul is universally respected for his intellect, experience and practical approach to solving this urgent and complex issue. His experience in developing both policy and market-based solutions for the financial sector makes him an ideal choice to help BlackRock’s clients achieve their net-zero ambitions.”

Most recently, Bodnar was a managing director and chief strategy officer at Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), an independent nonprofit organization working to accelerate the clean energy transition. While at RMI, Bodnar founded and chaired RMI’s Center for Climate-Aligned Finance, which works with some of the world’s largest financial institutions to enable their transition to net-zero emissions portfolios. He also established initiatives to support green investment in emerging markets, including the Climate Finance Access Network and the Green Bank Design Platform.

Before joining RMI, Bodnar held a number of climate leadership roles in the U.S. government, including as special assistant to the president and senior director for energy and climate change at the National Security Council. Bodnar also held positions at the U.S. Department of State, including as lead negotiator for climate finance and counselor to the special envoy for climate change.

Bodnar played a role in the development of Obama administration’s climate policies, including the U.S. strategy for the Paris Climate Conference, the U.S.-China presidential joint climate announcement of November 2014, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) agreement to strictly limit public financing for coal-fired power plants, and the doubling of clean energy research and development budgets by 20 major countries through the Mission Innovation initiative.

Earlier in his career, Bodnar worked as a director for carbon finance at the $1.2 billion carbon fund managed by London-based Climate Change Capital. He was also co-founder and partner at Vertis Environmental Finance, now one of Europe’s leading environmental commodity brokerage firms.

“I’m thrilled to join BlackRock as it takes major steps in its journey to become the leading sustainable investment firm in the world. BlackRock’s willingness to speak up on the risks of deferred climate action—and the opportunities inherent in the transition to a net-zero economy—has brought the issue to the forefront for companies and investors,” Bodnar says. “I look forward to helping BlackRock deliver innovative research, analytics and investment products across both climate risk and the full range of sustainability considerations.”

GW&K Appoints Several New Partners

GW&K Investment Management has named Nuno Fernandes, Karl Kyriss, Thomas Masi and Brad Miller as partners.

“I’m pleased to announce the appointments of Nuno, Karl, Tom and Brad to partner,” says Harold G. Kotler, chief executive officer and chief investment officer of GW&K. “In addition to demonstrating a deep commitment to our clients, peers and process, each has also played a pivotal role in driving very competitive performance in emerging and international markets. I am confident that their unique investment knowledge, analytical skills and experience in what have proved to be very dynamic global markets will continue to serve our clients well.”

Fernandes joined the firm in 2019 from Trilogy Global Advisors. He is co-portfolio manager of the firm’s emerging wealth equity strategy, which he launched with co-manager Masi in 2011. He is also a member of the firm’s Investment Committee and co-chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Prior to joining Trilogy, Fernandes worked for several years as a portfolio manager at Goldman Sachs Asset Management. He also worked on the sell side analyzing Latin American financial stocks. A graduate of the University of Porto, Portugal, with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Fernandes is a Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder and a member of the CFA Society New York.

Kyriss, who joined the firm in 2014, is a portfolio manager for GW&K’s international and global small cap strategies. In this role, he is a sector generalist, primarily covering companies across Europe and North America. He is also a member of the firm’s Investment Committee. Prior to joining GW&K, he was an equity research analyst at GTP LLC and Deutsche Asset Management. Kyriss earned a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from the University of Scranton and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan. He is a CFA charterholder and a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society Boston.

Masi joined GW&K in 2019 from Trilogy Global Advisors as co-portfolio manager for GW&K’s emerging wealth equity strategy, which he launched with Fernandes. He is also a member of the firm’s Investment Committee. Previously, he was a partner at Dominick and Dominick Advisors, a managing director and senior portfolio manager at SG Cowen Asset Management and a senior vice president and senior portfolio manager at Kidder Peabody Asset Management.

Miller is a portfolio manager for the emerging markets equity strategy and member of GW&K’s Investment Committee. He joined the firm in 2019 from Trilogy Global Advisors. Prior to joining Trilogy, he held analyst and portfolio manager positions at BPI Global Asset Management and Kornitzer Capital Management. Miller earned his bachelor’s in economics and management with a specialization in Finance from Simpson College and an MBA from the University of Iowa. He is a CFA charterholder and a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society Orlando.

Franklin Templeton Hires D&I Director

LeeAnn Sims has joined Franklin Templeton as director, diversity and inclusion (D&I).

Based in Baltimore, Sims will report to Franklin Templeton’s Chief Diversity Officer Regina Curry, working with her to drive enterprise D&I strategy, governance structure and performance measurements. She will work with internal and external partners and community stakeholders to integrate an equitable lens through all aspects of the business. She will lead a wide range of D&I initiatives, including key partnerships with external organizations that support various aspects of the firm’s D&I focus.

“LeeAnn Sims is an accomplished D&I practitioner with proven expertise in driving diversity, equity and inclusion programs, and I am very excited to have her on board so we can draw upon her well-rounded knowledge and experience,” Curry says. “She will be integral to realizing the ambitious plans we have set out to achieve as a firm, and I confident that she will help us continue to thoughtfully evolve and advance our D&I efforts.”

Sims will also work closely with Franklin Templeton’s employee-led Business Resource Groups (BRGs) that provide opportunities to network, impact business results and advance equity within the firm’s communities. 

Following Franklin Templeton’s acquisition of Legg Mason, Curry became chief diversity officer for the combined company, reporting to President and CEO Jenny Johnson.

Sims comes to Franklin Templeton from CareFirst BlueShield where she served as program director of diversity, equity and inclusion. Previously, she served as a program manager of D&I at T. Rowe Price and worked in roles at Vanguard including as a culture, diversity and inclusion manager. She holds Master of Business Administration from Saint Joseph’s University and a bachelor’s degree in American studies from The George Washington University. Her nonprofit work includes serving as an advisory committee member for CollegeBound Foundation’s Urban Scholars program.

Former Principal Returns to Jackson Lewis P.C.

Nationwide employment law firm Jackson Lewis P.C. has announced that Alec Nealon has returned to the firm as principal in Houston. Nealon focuses his practice on a broad range of executive compensation and employee benefits matters.

“Alec has a solid reputation in the area of executive compensation and employee benefits matters and we are extremely pleased to have him return to Jackson Lewis,” says Joy M. Joyce-Napier, leader of the firm’s employee benefits group. “Alec’s experience is a tremendous asset to our employee benefits team as we see the volume of our work increasing in the South.”

Nealon has more than 10 years of experience providing counsel to employers and management teams on all aspects of designing, negotiating and drafting employment and consulting agreements, severance, change in control, and cash bonus compensation plans. Nealon regularly represents employers in connection with hiring, termination and implementation of management transition programs, and advises on compliance with Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).

Nealon also assists employers with structuring, implementing and administering various qualified and nonqualified employee retirement, welfare, and compensation plans, programs and arrangements, including the associated Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and federal tax implications. He regularly advises on correction of plan defects and represents plan sponsors before the IRS and the Department of Labor (DOL) in connection with plan audits and investigations.

“We are thrilled to welcome Alec back to Jackson Lewis,” said Office Managing Principal Paul E. Hash. “He is a great addition to our growing roster of attorneys in Houston focusing exclusively on employee benefits and our clients will benefit tremendously from his counsel.” 

Alec earned his J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Madison-Wisconsin. He also holds a Tax LL.M. from the New York University School of Law, where he focused his studies on all aspects of qualified and nonqualified benefit plans.