Russell’s global cull snares Aussie COO, more in NZ

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Russell Investments has let go at least three senior staff in Australia and New Zealand as part of a global head count reduction of about 3 per cent.

In Australia Russell saw off a long-term senior staff member last week, with the departure of Jason Marler, chief operating officer for the Russell Investments Master Trust and Russell iQ platforms.

Marler joined Russell in 2004 as a senior product manager before being appointed to his most recent role in 2007. Before Russell he was a consulting actuary at Willis Towers Watson for eight years.

In New Zealand, Russell Investments has replaced Graeme Allan, an 18-year veteran with the firm, as portfolio manager for its flagship Global Opportunities Fund (GOF).

In a client note, Russell says the Seattle-based Jon Eggins, previously running many of the manager’s global small-cap funds, took over from Allan effective June 1.

“Jon was previously the backup portfolio manager for several other Russell Investments global equity funds, including the Russell Investments International Shares Fund and the Russell Investments Tax Effective Global Shares Fund,” the note says. “He worked closely with Graeme to develop the strategy behind the Russell Investments Global Opportunities Funds, which represent Russell Investments’ best unconstrained global equity portfolio.”

The London-based Allan also managed Russell’s factor-based ‘active positioning strategy’. In 2016 Russell lifted the $3 billion plus GOF allocation to the active positioning strategy from 7.5 per cent to 10 per cent as part of a broader makeover to the multi-manager menu.

Eggins, due in NZ later this year, would be assisted by incumbent back-up manager for the GOF (and its $NZ hedged version), Jim Jornlin, the Russell note says.

After joining Russell late in 2000, Allan held a number of manager research and portfolio management roles across emerging markets, UK, European and global equities.

This month Russell NZ head of asset consulting, Andrew Johnson, also leaves the firm in an exit announced last month.

The Seattle-headquartered firm hired Gene Raffone in May to the new position of global chief human resources officer under a “broad mandate” and direct reporting lines to new CEO, Michelle Seitz.

According to a Russell spokesperson, the investment and consulting firm – now owned by US private equity firms TA Associates and Reverence Capital – has embarked on a global head cull that “includes a reduction in positions of approximately 3 per cent”.

“The global realignment/integration isn’t about a specific country/region/business,” the spokesperson said. “It’s about helping to solve for critically important client outcomes globally in a rapidly growing market opportunity worldwide.”

He said the firm, which manages about US$300 billion, would continue to offer asset consulting as well as investment solutions.

“Our global consulting capability has been and will continue to be an important input/differentiator in our efforts to help clients meet outcomes,” the spokesperson said.

– David Chaplin, Investment News NZ

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