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Willis Towers Watson Creates Research Uber Boss; Promotes One Other

Willis Towers Watson (WTW) has tapped a new leader for its research operations and promoted one other within the division. The promotions were conferred in a effort to “enhance” the firm’s research offering, and follow other recent senior executive appointments at WTW.

Luba Nikulina, head of research, Willis Towers Watson

Luba Nikulina will take on a new leadership role as head of research, a newly created position, effective July 1. At the same time, Chris Redmond will take over from Nikulina as head of manager research.

Craig Baker, global chief investment officer, Willis Towers Watson

In her expanded role, Nikulina will continue to report to Craig Baker, global chief investment officer, in overseeing Willis Towers Watson’s key internal investment research teams: manager research; operational due diligence (ODD); and asset research, according to a released statement. She will work closely with Redmond, Josh Hall, head of ODD, and David Hoile, head of asset research.

“We always look to improve the way we do things and a closer integration of top-down macro views (asset research) with bottom-up due diligence (manager research) and operational risk assessment (operational due diligence) has become increasingly important in the environment where mega-trends have more impact on investment decision making and operational risks are on the rise,” Nikulina stated in an email sent to IA by the firm’s press representative.

She added that the aforementioned initiatives are not entirely new but are expected to gain more significance and additional momentum under her leadership, noting that no additional promotions, hires or changes are planned in the immediate future.

“Luba is an invaluable asset to the firm, which has been demonstrated by her leadership of the manager research team over the past five years,” Baker stated in a release. “She has demonstrated an active commitment to developing the manager research team and is now in a position to enhance our entire research offering in this new role.”

Redmond will assume Nikulina’s role beginning July 1. He will report to her and be responsible for the team of analysts conducting investment research on asset managers, coming up with recommendations and creating new investment solutions where none exists. He will work with the head of equity Stephen Miles, head of credit Nimisha Srivastava, head of liquid diversifying Sara Rejal, and head of real assets Paul Jayasingha.  

Chris Redmond, head of manager research, Willis Towers Watson

“Since joining Willis Towers Watson in 2004, Chris has played a vital role in the manager research team. He will continue driving our efforts in engaging with the asset management community and finding great, innovative investment ideas across our different research streams. We look forward to seeing the continued strong performance of our preferred strategies under Chris’s leadership,” Baker stated.

Other Recent Senior WTW Appointments

In April, WTW named Michele Brennan as leader of its U.S. delegated defined contribution plan solutions group. The position was new.  Brennan now leads the development of delegated investment solutions for DC clients in the U.S., based in Chicago and reporting to Clint Cary, U.S. head of delegated investment solutions. In March, the firm named Anne Swift as senior director. Her appointment was also to a newly created role.  Swift focuses on defined contribution plans within the advisory investment services team in London, following a team expansion. And, in February, Edwina Ho joined WTW in Hong Kong as investment director for greater China institutional clients.  This too is a new position. Ho now works closely with institutional clients across the greater China market to improve investment outcomes

“We see an increasing demand from defined contribution plan sponsors for investment and governance solutions, where we have a deep set of capabilities and expertise to serve this growing market,” Cary said, explaining the new positions. “These moves reflect an expansion of our existing defined contribution OCIO businesses globally, to meet the growing demand in the marketplace.”

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