Former head of William Blair Investment Management, Michelle Seitz, has replaced Len Brennan as Russell Investments global chief.
Seitz, a 21-year veteran at the investment arm of Chicago-based William Blair including 16 as its CEO, joined Russell last week stepping into a role Brennan has held for over six years.
Brennan will remain as chair of the almost US$270 billion Seattle-headquartered investment group until the end of the year – with Seitz to assume those duties in 2018 – when he will take on a strategic advisory position.
In a letter to local clients, Russell NZ head, Alister van der Maas, says Seitz was “a highly accomplished leader with more than 30 years of experience in asset management”.
“… we are confident she will help propel our firm into a new phase of evolution and growth that will benefit you,” van der Maas says in the letter. “She will be working closely with Len over the coming months to ensure a smooth transition, and is looking forward to meeting and getting to know clients.”
During her tenure at William Blair – a little-known brand in this part of the world – Seitz grew funds under management in the group’s investment business from US$2.3 billion to the current US$65 billion.
In a statement, Russell says: “Based on her demonstrated track record of success, Seitz is well-positioned for her new role at Russell Investments where she will lead growth by leveraging the firm’s brand and pursuing the opportunity to help institutional investors and financial advisors navigate the dynamic global markets and achieve investors’ desired outcomes.”
Her appointment follows a string of other senior management changes at Russell implemented in the wake of the 2015 joint takeover of the firm by two US private equity firms, TA Associates and Reverence Capital.
This January Bryan Weeks, former Sliver Creek Capital Management CEO, replaced Greg Gilbert as head of the Russell US institutional business. In April the group also hired Toby Hoden as chief marketing officer and former senior executive in BlackRock’s iShares arm, Joseph Linares, as head of Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Senior partner in the deal, TA Associates, and Reverence agreed to pay the London Stock Exchange US$1.15 billion for Russell Investments in October 2015. TA Associates recently took a 25 per cent stake in New Zealand’s Fisher Funds in a joint venture with TSB Bank.
Last week Russell rival in the multi-manager and consulting world, Mercer, also announced a top-level appointment naming Kylie Willment as chief investment officer (CIO).
Willment fills the spot left vacant by the departure of Russell Clarke this May to head the Victorian Funds Management Corporation.
Prior to joining Mercer, Willment held several senior investment positions at the almost A$70 billion NSW government fund group, TCorp. Former Perpetual Investments chief, David Deverall, took over as head of TCorp last year, triggering a number of personnel changes. In April former ANZ Wealth CIO, Stewart Brentnall, assumed a similar role at TCorp.
Mercer manages more than $200 billion globally including about $30 billion sourced from the Pacific region.