Van Eyk Research has expanded its board of directors from three to four with the appointment of a prominent former business head from the Russell Investment Group.

Stephen Roberts, former head of institutional business at Russell, last week joined the van Eyk board, alongside the executive directors and largest shareholders, Mark Thomas and Stephen van Eyk, and the other non-executive director, Sarah Brennan.

Mark Thomas said yesterday that the research firm and retail multi-manager had wanted to get the right skills on its board to meet the next stage of the growth of its business and Roberts would help that happen.

“Stephen (Roberts) has considerable experience in the multi-manager domain,” he said. “He grew that part of the business exponentially while he was at Russell … Plus, he has considerable energy and general business experience.”

Thomas said that the appointment did not signal a new drive to broaden its involvement in the institutional consulting space for van Eyk, necessarily, but rather reflected the increasing importance of the institutionalisation of the retail market.

“About 85 per cent of our (van Eyk) asset consulting business is with dealer groups,” he said. “We do a range of things for them including model portfolios.”

He added that in the current environment of increased regulatory scrutiny, it was important to have a significant non-executive presence on the board of a financial services company.

Of the non-executive directors, Brennan, a former senior executive at Citi and Deutsche, has run her own dealer group research and advisory firm for the last few years.

Roberts, who left Russell early this year, is an experienced institutional marketer.