Retirement Industry People Moves

Ascensus acquires health and benefits TPA provider; Putnam Investments announces developments to GAA team; Virtus Investment Partners enters acquisition with Stone Harbor; and more.

Ascensus Acquires Health and Benefits TPA Provider 

Ascensus will acquire UnifyHR, a third-party administrator (TPA) that provides employee benefits administration and compliance solutions including Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance, Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) administration and eligibility verification services. It will immediately become part of Ascensus’ Health & Benefits line of business.

The transaction was expected to close on July 1. Terms are not being disclosed.

Founded in 2013 and based in Irving, Texas, UnifyHR provides flexible and affordable support that helps employers manage complex employee benefits programs so they can focus on their core business. Its suite of offerings, managed through a proprietary system that also supports premium billing services and dependent eligibility audits, covers an employee’s entire lifecycle from new hire to retiree.

“UnifyHR has been highly successful in taking the complexity out of employee benefits administration and compliance obligations,” says David Musto, president and CEO of Ascensus. “By adding its knowledge and expertise to our Health & Benefits line of business, Ascensus reaffirms our commitment to helping employers satisfy their fiduciary and compliance responsibilities by making employee benefits easier to manage.”

“At UnifyHR, we take pride in our deep experience in employee benefits administration and compliance services, as well as our collaborative and close-knit culture,” says Allen Gehrki, UnifyHR’s president and CEO. “We’re looking forward to becoming part of Ascensus and continuing to deliver high-quality benefit services that are tailored to meet even the most complicated business requirements.”

“The comprehensive array of tech-enabled services offered by UnifyHR, spanning ACA and COBRA administration, state health insurance mandate filings, and eligibility verification, will expand Ascensus’ Health & Benefits solutions considerably,” says Raghav Nandagopal, Ascensus’ chief corporate development officer. “We’re delighted to welcome UnifyHR’s clients and associates to Ascensus and will continue to pursue opportunities to broaden our consumer-directed health care and employee benefits administration offerings.”

Putnam Investments Announces Developments to GAA Team

Putnam Investments has announced that Brett S. Goldstein has been named co-chief investment officer (CIO), global asset allocation (GAA), effective June 30.

Goldstein, who will also serve on the firm’s operating committee, has been a member of Putnam’s GAA team for over a decade and is a portfolio manager on several of the firm’s multi-asset funds.

Goldstein and his co-chief investment officer, Robert J. Schoen, who was appointed to the senior investment role in November 2016, will be jointly responsible for the overall strategy and positioning of the firm’s GAA products. Together, they will oversee portfolio construction and risk management for GAA portfolios and the research that drives equity security selection strategies.

“Asset allocation is an increasingly dynamic area of investing, presenting an array of new opportunities for the marketplace,” says Aaron M. Cooper, chief operating officer (COO), Putnam Investments. “The broad expertise and deep experience of Rob Schoen in the multi-asset arena, combined with the portfolio construction acumen of Brett Goldstein, particularly in the target-date investment sphere, will provide strong and strategic leadership in guiding the firm’s GAA efforts for the exciting journey ahead.”

Goldstein has a bachelor’s degree in applied economics and management and in biometry and statistics, and a master of professional studies degree in statistics from Cornell University. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.   

In another development, Schoen indicated that Adrian H. Chan will become a named portfolio manager on all Putnam GAA products.

Virtus Investment Partners Enters Acquisition with Stone Harbor

Virtus Investment Partners Inc. has entered into an agreement to acquire Stone Harbor Investment Partners LP.

Stone Harbor offers credit strategies, primarily to global institutional clients, including sovereign wealth investors, pension plans, foundations, endowments and insurance companies. Its strategies are also available through open- and closed-end mutual funds, including the Stone Harbor Emerging Markets Debt Fund (SHMDX), and to non-U.S. investors through UCITS and QIAIF pooled funds.

Virtus says the addition of Stone Harbor as an affiliated manager will further enhance and diversify Virtus’ investment capabilities with an emerging markets debt strategy that has a 30-year track record. It is also slated to also increase Virtus’ non-U.S. institutional client base, expand global distribution resources and add a proprietary operating and analytical platform that offers end-to-end investment and risk management technology, including an environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework, which can be leveraged by other affiliates.

”We are pleased to add Stone Harbor as an affiliated manager. Its culture and approach is strongly aligned with our core beliefs of providing high-quality, attractive investment strategies and exceptional service to clients,” says George R. Aylward, president and CEO of Virtus. “Stone Harbor’s institutional-quality emerging market debt capabilities are well-respected among clients and consultants and highly complementary to our other fixed-income capabilities. In addition, its global distribution resources will augment our existing sales capabilities supporting other affiliates.”

As a boutique affiliate, Stone Harbor will maintain autonomy over its investment processes, brand and culture, ensuring continuity for its clients, consultants and distribution partners, who will collaborate with the same investment teams.

Distribution Head Joins OneAmerica Retirement Services

OneAmerica Retirement Services (RS) President Sandy McCarthy has hired Mike Domingos as head of distribution. Domingos will lead the RS sales, business development and sales support teams across all market segments.

“Mike will be instrumental in furthering a vision and strategy for distribution in line with our multiyear plan, which is intently focused on strategic and significant growth and enhancing customer and distribution partner relationships,” says McCarthy. “Mike brings a wealth of industry experience across all market segments, as well as a passion for empowering people and driving processes to enable growth.”

McCarthy adds, “Mike is a wonderful fit with the OneAmerica values and culture, which keep people at the center of our strategy.”

Prior to joining OneAmerica, he served as the head of sales and strategic relations at Prudential Retirement, a business unit of Prudential Financial Inc. Domingos will start at OneAmerica on July 12.

“This is an exciting time to join OneAmerica as the company continues to build upon the recent momentum of its retirement business and to grow and invest strategically,” Domingos says. “I look forward to working with an exceptional team at a values-driven organization to deliver great service and solutions that enhance our adviser, sponsor and participant experiences.”

Domingos’ team will include responsible in five key segments: core market sales, mid- and large market sales, specialty market sales, business development and sales support.

LeafHouse Announces New Analytics Director

LeafHouse Financial, a third-party discretionary investment manager focused on retirement plans, has added Michael Garberich as senior investment officer and director of analytics.

“Michael’s role as director of analytics will be a key position as we continue to innovate in both our Investment Fiduciary line of business, and our technology company, investGrad,” says Todd Kading, president at LeafHouse. “Our initiatives in transformational leadership will benefit from Michael’s unique insights and understanding within the retirement plan industry.”

“I am thrilled to be joining LeafHouse and investGrade,” says Garberich. “I look forward to contributing my expertise and collaborating with the team to bring powerful new retirement solutions to market and help the firm grow.”

The Cerrado Group Acquires Nexus Administrators

Nexus Administrators Inc. is joining The Cerrado Group, effective July 1. Fresno, California-based Nexus is one of the largest retirement plan administrators in central California and among the largest in the state.

Nexus CEO Tom Tsaris says, “We at Nexus are absolutely thrilled to be a member of The Cerrado Group, because the core principles of experience, expertise, collaboration, community involvement and philanthropy that embody the essence of The Cerrado Group mission have also been the driving forces behind Nexus Administrators’ growth over the last three decades. Partnering with The Cerrado Group members to enhance our position within our profession, increasing the awareness to others of the value TPAs [third-party administrators] bring to the retirement plan space, formulating ongoing influence amongst our industry partners and creating new tools to benefit the retirement experience for all can best be accomplished via the collaboration inherent with The Cerrado Group involvement.”

“We are so pleased to add Nexus as another quality firm to our membership. Tom is a well-known and respected member of our industry and with their vast experience in the marketplace offering solutions as well as top-notch administration, they were a perfect addition to our group. As a growing entity, they contribute a wealth of knowledge and diversity to the entire industry and will be a valuable asset to our goals of educating our industry for the betterment of all,” says founding member and industry veteran Trina Gross, CEO of Nashville based Acuff & Associates.

The addition of Nexus brings the Cerrado Group membership to 11 firms. These firms have a footprint that covers more than 75% of the nation and service retirement plans of all types that total more $26 billion in assets under management (AUM). Group members, while remaining independent regional operators, actively combine their resources to fully serve the retirement plan industry at large.

HSBC Asset Management Finances Launch of Female-Owned, ESG Investment Firm 

HSBC Asset Management is taking a minority stake in Radiant ESG, a US-based, environmental, social and governance (ESG) and diversity and inclusion (D&I)-focused consulting firm. The firm was co-founded by Heidi Ridley and Kathryn McDonald, former CEO and head of sustainable investing at Rosenberg Equities, respectively.

With HSBC Asset Management’s backing, Radiant ESG will become RadiantESG Global Investors, a female-owned, independent asset management firm focused on next-generation ESG investment opportunities for institutional and wealth management clients worldwide. 

The RadiantESG team has deep expertise in equity investing and ESG data analysis, research and insight. Ridley and McDonald have over 50 years’ combined experience and each spent two decades at Rosenberg Equities, which they led to become the first fully ESG-integrated quant firm in 2017.

RadiantESG Global Investors intends to launch the next phase of its growth later this year with two investment strategies anchored on its proprietary “Positive Change” concept of ESG, which captures ESG leaders, ESG evolvers and United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDG)-aligned companies. The strategies will aim to address shifts in demographics and growing demand for more sustainable investment solutions.

The newly formed firm intends to grow its team over the course of the year and will seek an additional strategic partner to assist with infrastructure and distribution in the U.S. and key markets.  

Nicolas Moreau, CEO at HSBC Asset Management comments, “The essence of true global leadership is to change the status quo and this partnership is a perfect example of a direct social impact investment, demonstrating our commitment to furthering diversity in the asset management industry. When investing is combined with a team built upon diversity, inclusion and entrepreneurism, truly great outcomes are possible for our clients.”

“We are delighted to have the backing of an organization with the caliber and reputation of HSBC Asset Management, who has consistently demonstrated the characteristics we believe are paramount to a strong cultural foundation, an innovative mindset and a client-first focus,” add Ridley and McDonald in a joint statement. “We are deeply committed to positive progress on ESG issues, D&I, and playing a strong advocacy role within the industry on these topics. We believe in the power of inclusive culture within the asset management industry. These shared values form a strong foundation for the cultural and philosophical alignment between HSBC Asset Management and RadiantESG. We are also united in our effort to lead positive change within the asset management industry.”

BNY Mellon WM Selects Investor Solutions Head

BNY Mellon Wealth Management has named Sinead Colton Grant as global head of BNY Mellon Investor Solutions LLC. She will be leading the firm’s multi-asset solutions business, which has more than $29 billion in total assets under management (AUM) and advisement as of March 31.

Sinead has over 25 years of financial industry experience, including a decade with BNY Mellon. She most recently served as deputy chief investment officer (CIO) and head of equities for BNY Mellon Wealth Management. She led the large cap U.S. equity, equity trading and capital markets advisory groups. She also serves as head of responsible investing for wealth management and digital assets. Prior to joining BNY Mellon Wealth Management, she served as head of global investment and product strategy for Mellon Investments. Before joining BNY Mellon, Sinead was managing director of investment strategy for the Multi-Asset Client Solutions group at BlackRock and held positions at JP Morgan and Invesco.

“We are delighted to welcome Sinead to our Investor Solutions team. We look forward to drawing upon her deep multi-asset experience in serving our clients as their needs and markets continue to evolve,” says Catherine Keating, CEO of BNY Mellon Wealth Management.

Sinead will succeed Jamie Lewin, who is returning home to the United Kingdom with his family. Sinead is based in New York and reports to Keating.

Sinead received a bachelor’s degree from Dublin City University, Ireland, and a Master of Science degree in finance from London Business School. She was honored as one of the Irish America Wall Street 50 in 2018 and 2019, which recognizes the contributions of Irish American and Irish-born leaders in the financial industry.