Retirement Industry People Moves

Ascensus Acquires PenSys; USI Names Retirement Services VP; Hooker & Holcombe Promotes Consultants; and more.

Buck Hires New CEO

Buck announced that John (Jack) Freker, Jr. joined the company as its chief executive officer. Freker will lead the company’s growth across all aspects of Buck’s business. He brings decades of global leadership in business services growth and transformation across various industry sectors, including human resources, financial services, technology-enabled business services, consulting and enterprise software.

Most recently, Freker served as CEO of YP/Print Media LLC, and prior, led First Advantage, a global provider of employee background screening, talent acquisition and identity verification. Earlier in his career, Freker led Convergys, a global provider of customer service and client relationship management (CRM) solutions.  Previously, Freker held management, marketing and business development roles in the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry. He began his career with Procter and Gamble.

“With tremendous scale, best-in-class technology and a legacy as the ‘go-to provider’ for customized solutions, combined with a deep bench of highly seasoned professionals, Buck is offering market-leading solutions. We are uniquely positioned to differentiate amongst our competitors by being more nimble and easier to do business with,” says Freker.  “We are excited to work with our partner H.I.G. Capital to accelerate our growth in this exciting market by helping our clients create new, innovative strategies to engage with employees to drive real business impact.”

Willis Towers Watson Adds Executive Compensation Leader

Willis Towers Watson appointed Don Delves as executive compensation practice leader for North America. In this role, Delves will help drive growth across the region’s Executive Compensation line of business by, in part, steering the development of intellectual capital and sponsoring marketing, sales and research initiatives.

“We’re thrilled to appoint Don into this important leadership position,” says Mark Reid, global head, executive compensation, Willis Towers Watson. “In today’s executive compensation era of increasing transparent goals and rising shareholder scrutiny, Don’s high level of integrity, commitment to the core principles of his craft and his status as a respected scholar in our field make him an ideal fit for this role. I’m confident under Don’s leadership we can accelerate growth across our business and continue to deliver tremendous value for our clients regarding their executive pay programs.”

Delves joined the company’s Executive Compensation practice in 1986. He then founded The Delves Group, a Chicago-based consultancy dedicated to working with corporate boards and compensation committees to improve effectiveness and organization. Delves returned to Willis Towers Watson in 2013. He holds a doctorate in education and principles-based corporate governance from Fielding Graduate University, an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Chicago and a B.A., summa cum laude, in economics from DePauw University.

DWC Plan Consultant Relocates to New Orleans


DWC – The 401(k) Experts announced the relocation of Retirement Plan Consultant Tianna Schulz to New Orleans

As a plan consultant, Schulz is responsible for the production and delivery of all compliance and consulting services for 401(k) and defined benefit (DB) plan clients.  Plan consultants are typically involved with their communities as well as responsible for supporting all local and regional relationships with investment advisory firms and recordkeeping service providers.

Schulz, previously located in San Diego, joined DWC in March of 2018. In her new location, she intends to apply her nonprofit passion and experience to the New Orleans community.

“I’m honored for the opportunity to join the New Orleans community,” says Schulz. “DWC does amazing work all across the country, and I’m eager to continue my contributions to the firm’s continued growth and success while strengthening our ties to the New Orleans community.”

SVPs Join Gallagher Fiduciary Advisors

The Institutional Investment & Fiduciary Services practice of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., Gallagher Fiduciary Advisors, LLC, added two top advisers to their team, each with experience in helping plan sponsors and fiduciaries achieve investment goals and manage fiduciary risks. 

Darin R. Hoffner joins as an area senior vice president and area assistant counsel in Gallagher’s Newark, New Jersey, office. Hoffner has broad experience across a wide range of investment and ERISA fiduciary compliance issues involving traditional asset classes as well as alternative investments including private equity, real estate, timber and mineral interests. 

Jeff Covell joins as senior vice president in Gallagher’s Washington, D.C., office where he will be providing clients with objective advice and tailored solutions that achieve their investment goals and manage their fiduciary liability for defined benefit (DB) plans, Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association (VEBAs), defined contribution (DC) plans, hybrid or “variable” pension plans, health care and religious portfolios.

Ascensus Acquires PenSys

Ascensus has entered into an agreement to acquire third-party administration (TPA) firm, PenSys, which will become part of Ascensus’ TPA Solutions division. The acquisition is effective immediately.   

Based in Roseville, California, PenSys specializes in the design, implementation, and administration of defined contribution (DC), defined benefit (DB), and cash balance retirement plans. The firm, which also offers 3(16) fiduciary services, has established a strong reputation for providing creative plan design and high quality service. 

“PenSys is one of the most highly respected TPAs in the country due to their focus on designing plans to meet clients’ unique needs and their use of technology to enhance personal service,” says Jerry Bramlett, head of TPA Solutions. “Their addition to Ascensus TPA Solutions goes a long way toward helping us build a national TPA that offers a broad set of services and resources to financial professionals, employers, and employees.” 



SVP Succeeds Former Pacific Life Business Unit Leader


Pacific Life announced Joe Celentano, senior vice president and chief finance and risk officer of the company’s Retirement Solutions Division (RSD), will succeed Dewey Bushaw as leader of the business unit, effective January 1, 2019.

Celentano joined Pacific Life in 1992 and has served in a variety of leadership roles throughout the company. He previously served as Pacific Life’s chief risk officer from 2012 to 2017 before joining RSD in his current role, overseeing the division’s financial and risk management operations. In his new role as executive vice president, Celentano is said to focus on growth and innovation. He will transition into his new role over the course of the fourth quarter in 2018.

“Joe’s leadership, sharp strategic and analytical perspective, and deep knowledge across our businesses makes him ideally suited for this role,” says Pacific Life Chairman, President and CEO Jim Morris.

Bushaw’s retirement marks the end of a 24-year career with Pacific Life.

“With his keen sense for market opportunities, Dewey’s tireless efforts toward building the business that we have today has helped prepare RSD for even greater success in the future,” says Morris. “We thank Dewey for his many contributions to Pacific Life, and celebrate his remarkable career of outstanding commitment and dedication to the company.”


Industry Veterans Affiliate with PlanMember Securities Corporation


David Penwell and Rich Treta of Penwell Treta Wealth Management (PTWM) in Fort Worth, Texas,  announced their affiliation with PlanMember Securities Corporation as a new PlanMember Financial Center, to expand retirement, investment planning and financial education opportunities for educators and employees of nonprofit organizations in the Dallas – Fort Worth area.

PlanMember specializes in the fee-based 403(b), 457(b), and 401(k) market place. PlanMember is certified to offer 403(b) products for the Texas Teachers Retirement System. By partnering with PlanMember as a Financial Center, established independent advisers such as PTWM can tap the support resources and preferred market access of a national company while maintaining their own local identity.

Penwell has 25 years as a financial planner. He obtained his CLU in 1997 and ChFC in 2005.

“As a PlanMember Financial Center,” says Penwell, “we’ll be able to tap into one of the best designed plans for educators around. The professionally managed PlanMember platform—403(b), 457(b), and 401(k)—gives our clients complete control over their money, at all stages of their career.”

Treta’s career spans 32 years. He earned his CFP designation in 1994 and started working with David Penwell in 2009. 

“We feel choosing to partner with PlanMember will be extremely beneficial for our clients and our practice. PlanMember’s independent and robust investment platforms, combined with a superior back office client support system, is the perfect fit for what we are trying to provide to our personal and business clients,” Treta adds.

“The affiliation with PTWM supports PlanMember’s ideas for expanding its Financial Center business model to new markets across the country,” says Jon Ziehl, founder and CEO of PlanMember. 


USI Names Retirement Services VP

USI Consulting Group announced that Kevin Clemson, CIMA, has been named vice president of retirement services, based in Irvine, California. In this role, Clemson will be responsible for leading the business development activities for USI Consulting Group’s defined benefit and defined contribution practices in southern California. 

Bart Ballinger, senior vice president and regional sales director for USI Consulting Group, says, “Kevin brings a broad set of skills and retirement experience to our Irvine office and we are looking forward to him sharing his knowledge and expertise to build deep plan sponsor relationships. California is an important territory for USI Consulting Group and Kevin will help expand our reach in the local market.” 

Clemson has over 12 years of experience working with retirement plans and investments. Prior to joining USI Consulting Group, he worked as a sales director with a focus on defined contribution plans. He also served as a relationship manager with a large investment firm for consultants and financial advisors, in addition to serving as a district manager and wholesaler. Clemson earned his bachelor’s of Science degree in Economics from Southwest Missouri State University. Industry education and designations include: FINRA Series 7 and 66; Certified Investment Management Analyst designation. 

Hooker & Holcombe Promotes Consultants

Hooker & Holcombe named two of their consultants to practice leader roles in response to the firm’s expanding actuarial services group. The firm named Steve Lemanski as OPEB practice leader and Ellen Kucenski as pension practice leader

Lemanski is an enrolled actuary with nearly 30 years of experience providing actuarial services to municipalities, multi-employer pension funds and Fortune 500 companies.  He oversees the team who manages the firm’s other post-employment benefits (OPEB) plans. His expertise includes valuations of defined benefit and OPEB plans, plan design, benefit certifications, experience studies, and consulting on a number of compliance related issues.  Steve is chairperson of the EA-1 actuarial exam writer’s committee, and is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, a Fellow of the Conference of Consulting Actuaries, and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries.

Kucenski has been with the firm since 2002 and leads the team who manages the day-to-day operations of the pension area within the actuarial services group.  Her broad actuarial background includes complex testing, deterministic forecasts and cash flow projections.  She is an enrolled actuary, a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries. 

“We are pleased to have Steve and Ellen in these new leadership roles. They have continuously contributed to the growth within the unit and are well-respected by their peers,” says Richard Sych, president and consulting actuary.