Ross Trustees, AllianceBernstein, LaSalle, Gabler, Dalriada Trustees, HSBC, BVI, WTW, MEAG

Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS)Wouter Koolmees, the architect of the Dutch pension transition, will become the new head of the Dutch national railway company NS as of 1 November.

In 2019, Koolmees signed an agreement with social partners that paved the way for the still ongoing transition from a defined benefit (DB) to a defined contribution (DC) system.

In a press release announcing the appointment, Koolmees was hailed by NS as someone “who has a proven track record of getting things done.” According to NS, Koolmees also has a talent to bring groups with different interests together.

Koolmees will need all these qualities in his new job: the loss-making Dutch railways, which were hit by nationwide strikes last month as workers demanded (and got) a 10% pay rise, are suffering from acute staff shortages which have led to overcrowded and cancelled trains.

Before resigning from the government in January 2022, Koolmees was a parlamentarian for the social-liberal party D66. He also worked as a civil servant for the Dutch finance ministry.

Ross Trustees – The professional trustee and pensions services firm has boosted its team by 10% in Q3 after securing eight new hires to help service growing client demand. Its newest recruits take the total number of new joiners to 12 for 2022 so far.

Michael Clark joins as a trustee director, following the acquisition of CBC Pension Services announced earlier this summer. He brings three decades of experience across pensions, financial and professional services, as well as a number of existing clients including the BMA Staff Pension Scheme, IPC Media Pension Scheme and Medical Research Pension Scheme.

Joining Clark to support Ross Trustees’s growing client base are three new assistant associates – Victoria Baxter, Richard Haslam and Philippa Watson. Executive assistant Lilly Howe and payroll assistant Maha Spaul, bids manager Lynne Boston and associate Stephen Kelly complete the new arrivals, and bring diverse experience to support all aspects of the firm’s work.

Ross Trustees’s multi-disciplinary and diverse team now comprises 67 specialists, working with over 150 pension schemes with combined assets under management of £54bn.

AllianceBernstein (AB)Erin Bigley has been named as the firm’s chief responsibility officer. In her new role Bigley will oversee the firm’s responsible investing strategy, extensive research, engagement, stewardship activities, corporate responsibility, and continued integration of responsible investing into key strategic decisions.

Bigley brings distinct insight and substantial experience to the role, having spent more than 20 years at AB, most recently as the head of fixed income responsible investing and having served as a founding member of the firm’s responsible investment steering committee. Bigley’s portfolio-management experience, industry expertise, and passion for responsibility positions her for success as chief responsibility officer, as she continues to advance responsibility in all aspects of AB’s business.

In addition to her role Bigley has joined the firm’s operating committee. She is also the co-chair of the firm’s Women’s Leadership Council, which is committed to convening senior leaders to cultivate an inclusive and diverse environment for women to build and broaden leadership roles at AB.

Bigley replaces Michelle Dunstan, who has left the firm to pursue an external opportunity. Bigley is based in New York City.

BVI – The German fund industry association has elected a new executive board for the next two years. The members of the executive board include Sonja Albers of Union Investment, Manfred Bauer of DWS Investment, Dirk Degenhardt of Deka Wealth Management, Michael Reinhard of Universal Investment, Thomas Schindler of Allianz Global Investors, Michael Schneider of Intreal and Joerg Stotz of Hansainvest. The board has elected Dirk Degenhardt as the new President.

It was also decided during BVI’s general meeting to expand the group of members to give the opportunity to real estate advisors and real estate asset managers to become members of BVI.

LaSalle Investment ManagementSamer Honein will succeed Alok Gaur as the firm’s global head of investor relations, effective 30 November. Honein will join LaSalle’s global management committee upon commencement of his new role, and continue to be based in Paris.

Honein has been with LaSalle and JLL for more than 21 years, and has over 25 years of industry experience. He was appointed the LaSalle’s head of EMEA investor relations in April 2021 and in that role has served as a leader both within the investor relations group and for the firm. During his time at LaSalle, Honein has driven large capital raises and maintained relationships with key clients in the EMEA region with a focus on the Middle East.

He previously worked with LaSalle’s acquisitions team, sourcing investments opportunities and executing acquisitions in France on behalf of LaSalle’s strategic partnerships.

Gabler – The Norwegian pensions and investment consultancy has hired Ibrahim Pelja as its new head of ESG and sustainability. Pelja was previously a researcher and lecturer at NHH Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen, where his work included teaching and researching ESG and sustainability reporting.

Trym Riksen, head of portfolio management at the Oslo-based firm, said the title ‘head of ESG and sustainability’ was a new one at the firm, as was the person in that role, but the content of the role built on Gabler’s existing work and complemented its existing resources.

Riksen said: “The momentum around ESG is stronger than ever and the need our customers have to both understand regulations, but also how ESG affects their investments, has grown greatly.”

Meanwhile Pelja, said he looked forward to helping Gabler’s customers navigate a landscape “that is constantly evolving”. Pelja started his new job at Gabler on 1 September.

Vækstfonden – The Danish state investment fund announced it was losing both its chief executive officer Rolf Kjærgaard and head of equity Mikkel Hesselgren at the beginning of October, in a phase when the fund is facing a merger with two other state financing funds to form the new fund Denmark’s Export & Investment Fund on 1 January 2023.

Kjærgaard said he had decided that the time had come to move on with something new. His last working day at Vækstfonden was 10 October, and the fund’s chief financial officer Jacob Hübertz – a former chief investment officer of Danish pension fund DIP/JØP – has been appointed interim CEO.

Hesselgren is leaving Vækstfonden to lead a new investment fund connected to the Danish startup 3Shape in the New Year, Vækstonden announced.

“I am proud and thankful for having been part of the team, and I am looking forward to following the new ‘super fund’ – Denmark’s Export & Investment Fund – in the future as well as hoping to become one of the new fund’s future business partners,” said Hesselgren, who worked at Vækstfonden from 2007 to 2013 and again from 2016 until now.

Erik Balck Sørensen, managing partner for direct investments at Vækstfonden’s VF Investering unit, is to fill one role vacated by Hesselgren, become the new acting head of VF Investering.

WTW – The consultancy has appointed Nicoletta Blaschke to lead the business division Health and Benefits in Germany and Austria, effective 1 October.

Blaschke will play a key role in executing WTW’s strategy and expanding the offering of services in the field of risk protection, health, wellbeing and international people mobility, developing benefits strategies for the firm’s customers locally and globally.

The Health and Benefits division advises companies on analysing the health risks and requirements of their workforce and developing benefits strategies. Prior to joining WTW, Blaschke led the Health Solutions Germany division at Aon.

Dalriada TrusteesPaul Brine has been appointed as a professional trustee to the firm. He brings over 16 years’ experience as a trustee – including 10 years as an independent – to his new role, having served on a variety of schemes from £50m in assets to £3.5bn, across defined benefit, defined contribution, and hybrid structures. He has also chaired at both trustee and committee level.

Prior to his external trustee work, Brine spent 30 years in risk and capital markets in London and New York. He began in capital markets and derivatives at JP Morgan, and subsequently spent 17 years at Credit Suisse, working as a managing director in fixed income and derivatives, and then later in alternative investments.

Brine has a detailed knowledge of Solvency II (from a principal perspective) and the risk implications and considerations for any client considering any type of risk transfer exercise.

MEAG – The asset manager of Munich Re and ERGO has appointed Moritz Waibel to the newly-created position of head of ESG and & sustainable finance, effective 1 December.

Waibel will report to Katja Lammert, MEAG’s chief administration officer. From December, MEAG will split its ESG team into ESG analysis and ESG business development. The ESG analysis team will focus on investments, while the business development team, led by Waibel, will define the ESG strategy and further development the ESG topic.

Waibel joined MEAG’s legal department in 2001. He has held managerial positions at the asset manager since 2007, most recently as head of legal, regulatory and compliance (alternative assets). He is a member of MEAG’s reputational risk committee.

American Century Investments (ACI) – The asset manager has appointed Semrat Tesfai as senior sales and client service associate in the Frankfurt office.

In her role, Tesfai will serve institutional and intermediary clients in the EMEA region together with head of relationship management and strategic partnership, Volker Buschmann, and as part of a sales partnership with Nomura Asset Management.

ACI plans to strengthen its position in Germany and in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. Prior to joining ACI, Tesfai worked in the financial industry for 17 years, including for asset managers such as HQ Capital, Nuveen, M&G Investments and AXA Investment Managers.

Pierin Menzli at HSBC AM

Pierin Mezlin, HSBC AM

HSBC Asset Management (HSBC AM)Pierin Menzli has been named as CIO, thematic equities. He joined on 30 September and is based in Switzerland, reporting to Vis Nayar, global CIO, equities.

In this newly-created role, Menzli will be responsible for overseeing specialist thematic equity teams in charge of developing and managing new thematic investment solutions. Menzli and his team will contribute to the overall enhancement of the current investment platform and will look to develop new thematic investment solutions.

He brings more than 20 years of asset management experience and joins from Bank J. Safra Sarasin where he was head of thematic equities. During his time there, Menzli led and developed the firm’s thematic equity franchise in the technology, health, consumer and environmental fields. He has also served on the board of Swiss Sustainable Finance (SSF) for the last six years.