An improving economy, growing sponsor demand for better investment options and a battle among asset managers for key personnel should continue the momentum in 2011 for what was an active year for hiring top-level defined contribution money managers, executive recruiters say.
“I don't see any letup in activity,” said Joe McCabe, Boston-based vice chairman of CTPartners, an executive search firm. “It's due to pure organic growth and an upgrading of talent. There could be some senior leadership level moves in 2011.”
This year's hiring activity was due to “pent-up demand” by companies unwilling to make many major hiring decisions in 2008 and 2009, said Elizabeth Fisher, a San Francisco-based consultant for the executive recruiting firm Spencer Stuart.
“During the economic crisis, there was little or no movement in asset management in general and the retirement space in particular, but now there's a lot of movement as several companies are trying to make defined contribution a top priority in the next three to five years,” Ms. Fisher said. “We will see some other hires in coming months as more asset management firms want to expand.”
Top-level changes in 2010 included a mixture of internal promotion and company-switching, some via executive search and some through direct hire.
The action started in January when Drew Lawton was hired as CEO of New York Life Retirement Plan Services, Westwood, Mass. Mr. Lawton had been president of Fridson Investment Services.
In February, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, New York, hired Bill McDermott as head of the institutional defined contribution business, a new position at the firm. He had been executive vice president for corporate markets at AXA Equitable Life Insurance Co.
In April, BlackRock Inc.'s San Francisco-based managing director Chip Castille was promoted to head of the U.S. and Canada defined contribution group after his former boss, Kristi Mitchem, was recruited in March by State Street Global Advisors to become senior managing director and global head of its defined contribution business.
In November, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, New York, hired Michael Falcon as managing director and head of retirement in the U.S. and Canada, a new position at the firm. He most recently was president of Samuel Bennett Inc., a financial media and consulting company.
This month, New York Life Retirement Plan Services named David Castellani as senior managing director and head of the retirement business. Mr. Castellani, who had been chief marketing officer at the wealth management firm EWM LLC, assumed many of the management responsibilities held by Mr. Lawton, who remains CEO and added new duties as CEO of traditional investments at New York Life Investments.
“In 2008 and 2009, everyone took a pause” in hiring, said George Wilbanks, a New York-based consultant in the asset and wealth management practice at Russell Reynolds Associates. The total number of Russell Reynolds searches in the asset and wealth management area was flat in 2008 and down 50% in 2009. But in 2010, searches jumped 70%.