It's never too late to start anew.
On the heels of mergers, career and personal crises, or just being ready for a change, corporate pension executives from companies such as Grumman Co. and Ameritech Corp. have reinvented themselves. They've switched to the sell side from the buy side, set up their own businesses, uprooted their personal lives.
Despite their different choices, all six former pension executives tracked down by Pensions & Investments have remained in the investment arena. Here's a look at how their lives have changed.
Deborah Veverka was well acquainted with T. Rowe Price Investment Services Inc. by the time she began working for the company in early 2000. As vice president, pension fund investments, for Honeywell International Inc., Morristown, N.J., she was a client; T. Rowe Price was the primary service provider for Honeywell's 401(k) plan and managed small-cap domestic, large-cap domestic and international equities portfolios for its defined benefit plan. In total, Honeywell had approximately $7.5 billion in retirement assets at the time of Ms. Veverka's departure.
After 18 years with Honeywell, she left at the end of 1999, as the company was completing its merger with Allied Signal Inc. "I was too young (to retire)," she said. In addition, Ms. Veverka had done everything she wanted to do as a plan sponsor. "Very rarely in your career do you get the opportunity to reinvent your career," she said.
Ms. Veverka was recruited by Todd Ruppert, of the sales department. Although she was making a big change, having been in the same place so long, Ms. Veverka insisted she felt comfortable moving to T. Rowe Price because managing assets "was their core business," unlike at Honeywell.
"It's not that big a leap to move from being a client to a client-service person," she added. As a former client, she said, she understands what information is important to the client, and the timeframe and manner in which they like to receive it.
In January 2000, Ms. Veverka moved to Baltimore from Minneapolis and began managing institutional sales and client services. She said the change in locations did not disrupt her family life - on the contrary. "It got me closer to my parents," Ms. Veverka said. T. Rowe Price even assisted her husband in getting interviews for a new job in Baltimore. "The biggest challenge ... was just getting to the same point in my ability that I had with Honeywell," she said.
Charles Service celebrates his fifth anniversary with Chicago money manager Brinson Partners late this month. However, his experience in dealing with the company goes back to 1988, when he was second-in-command at the Unisys Corp. retirement plans.
In 1996, Mr. Service left his job as vice president, capital management and trust investments, at Unisys, Blue Bell, Pa., where he'd been since 1987. Mr. Service, who originally is from the Philadelphia area, said he chose to move to Chicago and join Brinson after almost 10 years at Unisys because he'd been impressed with Brinson as a client and because of "personal matters" he declined to identify.
Unisys' defined benefit and defined contribution assets totaled $6.5 billion when Mr. Service left the company, right before the Thanksgiving weekend. The following Monday, he had already relocated to Chicago to become executive director, client relations and business development group, at Brinson. He now oversees relationships with 30 clients.
"It's a very natural progression," said Mr. Service of the move from plan sponsor to client service executive. He added that can "empathize" with plan sponsors, as "I had been in their shoes for 10 years."
In the latter half of 1994, William Parmentier was president of GQ Asset Management, New York, the internal money management wing of Grumman, where he oversaw approximately $2.5 billion in pension assets. The company had recently been acquired by Northrop Corp., which was gearing up to drop GQ Asset, and Mr. Parmentier had leaving on his mind.
Mr. Parmentier said he'd noticed at the time that pension assets were being moved into index funds, internal management was disappearing, mergers were becoming more frequent, and defined contribution plans were gaining popularity. All the signs pointed to the possibility that being a defined benefit plan manager handling assets internally might not be a long-lasting career choice. Grumman would have remained an attractive opportunity, he said, "if we had managed outside assets and stayed independent." However, Northrop closed GQ Asset Management in late 1994.
Early in 1995, Mr. Parmentier packed up his belongings and moved to Boston to become chief executive officer of Liberty Asset Management, a subsidiary of Liberty Financial Cos. He oversees the Liberty All-Star Equity Fund and Liberty All-Star Growth Fund, two closed-end funds for retail investors. Mr. Parmentier oversees $1.3 billion in assets.
Fleet Financial Corp. completed its acquisition of Liberty Asset Management and parent company Liberty Financial Cos. on Nov. 1. Mr. Parmentier will continue with the company under its new parent; he said Fleet is focused on the retail marketplace.
Between 1990 and 1994, Judith Mares was chief investment officer the $14.5 billion pension fund of Midwestern telecommunications company Ameritech Corp.
Ms. Mares decided to leave her Chicago employer (which was acquired by SBC Communications Co. in 1999) and return to Minneapolis, where she had been assistant treasurer, managing $1 billion in retirement assets, for General Mills Inc. from 1976 through 1988. She loved the city and also was pleased that her teenage daughter would be closer to her father (Ms. Mares' ex-husband had remained in Minneapolis after she moved to Chicago).
In addition, Ms. Mares was eager to be her own boss. On Jan. 1, 1995, she opened Mares Financial Consulting, a strategic consultant with a client list comprising national and regional mutual funds, banks, investment counselors and vendor clients that sell an array of products to defined benefit and defined contribution plans. A one-person shop, she works with a network of consultants.
"I have a great boss, and that never changes," she said; "that was not always true in my corporate life."
Cynthia Steer, well known in pension circles for her high-powered presence, spent the first half of the 1990s steering two of the nation's largest retirement plans. From 1991 through 1995, she was the director of United Technologies Corp.'s retirement plans, which had approximately $12 billion in assets when she left to join Philip Morris Cos. Inc. as chief investment officer in January 1995. However, she left that post in October of the same year for reasons about which she still declines to comment.
For the 18 months after leaving Philip Morris, Ms. Steer spent time with here family in her home community of Hartford, Conn., where she also worked part time with local endowments and foundations.
In 1997, Ms. Steer became an independent consultant for the city of Hartford's pension fund, working with city treasurers Cathleen Palm and Denise Nappier, who is now Connecticut state treasurer, on manager searches and asset allocation shifts.
Ms. Steer said that although her experiences during her time off and with the city of Hartford were learning experiences, she was intrigued by "the opportunity to rejoin the public sector" when she was hired in 1999 as chief investment officer of SBLI USA Mutual Life Insurance Co. Inc., New York, where she oversees $1.5 billion in retirement assets.
The merger of Bell Atlantic Corp. and NYNEX Corp. signaled the end of Candace Cox's six-year term as president of Bell Atlantic Asset Management Co. Her position, which included serving as chief investment officer for Bell Atlantic's retirement assets, was dropped in 1998. Prior to her Bell Atlantic experience, Ms. Cox had been principal investment officer of the comptroller's office of New York City.
In the three years since Bell Atlantic, Ms. Cox has "had the opportunity to do several interesting things in and around the industry," she said in a written statement. Now she is principal with Emerald Capital Advisors LLC, a small consulting firm she formed.
Ms. Cox was director of institutional investments at Lord Abbett & Co., New York, for five months at the end of 1999 and into early 2000. She also is chairman of the investment committee of the Board of RSI Retirement Trust, New York, which manages assets for small qualified pension plans.
She also volunteers at several charitable organizations, serving as treasurer of the American Heart Association's New York affiliate and as a member of the American Red Cross of Greater New York's investment committee.