Russell’s director of investment consulting in Australia, Jim Franks, will retire this month as the company aims to fill three new positions to further streamline its consulting business.

Franks, a 17-year veteran at Russell, will retire on March 26, confirmed Greg Liddell, Russell’s director of consulting and advisory services in Australasia. Franks exits amid Russell’s integration of its corporate fund and institutions and government advice businesses, for which it is hunting new consulting and investment staff.

Russell aims to hire a director of capital markets research to fill the gap left by Geoff Warren, who now devotes most of his working time to lecturing at the Australian National University (ANU), plus a client-facing consultant and investment analyst.

The searches follow the appointment of Nicole Connolly, the former alternatives portfolio manager at Telstra Super, to advise clients on alternative investments, and Raewyn Williams from Queensland Investment Corporation, who specialises in after-tax investment strategies.

These moves flag the company’s aim to restructure its consulting business “along specialist lines”, Liddell said, to enable the team to focus on strategic matters like asset allocation and investment strategy, while operational tasks such as manager research and due diligence will be undertaken by Russell’s multi-manager business under chief investment officer Symon Parish.

“We want to make sure that both implemented and traditional [consulting] clients get access to our best ideas and intellectual property around strategic asset allocation,” Liddell said.

He said the potential for conflicts of interest arising from Russell’s provision of both traditional consulting and multi-manager investment products had been eliminated because “no one is incentivised to move a traditional client into Russell product,” meaning that Russell consultants receive no further remuneration when clients invest with the manager.

The new Sydney-based director of capital markets research will effectively take over from Geoff Warren, who devotes most of his working time to research and lecturing in finance at the ANU but is held on a retainer with Russell, entitling the company to about 20 per cent of his time, Liddell said.

The new researcher would produce work on the behaviour and structure of investment markets, portfolio construction. The new consultant and analyst, who will both be based in Melbourne, will focus on strategic aspects of investment, such as SAA, performance measurement and attribution, and risk analytics, he said.

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