Fund Managers Seek Hybrid Professionals for Expanding Products. Hint: CFA Helps

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George Wilbanks, a managing director with Russell Reynolds in New York, is looking for candidates who can handle both product development and product management for a mutual fund firm. The ideal recruit has a strong background in retirement solutions and experience with wealth management and annuities.

Such people are needed to design products that will respond to the needs of soon-to-be retirees and the employers sponsoring their retirement plans. They need to combine traditional insurance underwriting with financial advisory prowess. While searches for these people represent only about 15 percent of Wilbanks' searches right now, they've become a much larger part of the business during the past few years. Wilbanks expects that will continue.

As companies like Prudential Financial and John Hancock market new 401(k) hybrids that feature an annuity option or different sorts of income guarantees, financial services firms increasingly seek individuals who can tie together capital markets know-how with underwriting expertise. An ideal candidate: someone with both a Certified Life Underwriting certification together with a CFA.

The 401(k) space is an unusual one: It's quasi-retail in that an individual is the end user, but it's also institutional in that the purchasers are pensions/retirement directors and human resources professionals. Overall, the 401(k) market will increase an estimated 41 percent to $3.7 trillion in assets by the end of 2014, says Boston-based consultant Cerulli Associates.

As the first Baby Boomers turn 65, the business is faced with issues that demand:

- Expertise in collaring market volatility to reduce investment timing risk.

- The ability to hedge against inflation.

- The ability to develop, coordinate, and market longevity risk solutions that can help end users avoid outliving their assets.

"You want a broad knowledge of insurance annuities as well as derivatives tools and structured finance, in addition to traditional asset management skills, along with the ability to advise a customer," says Wilbanks. He calls this "a new and promising niche."

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