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Russell Investments Hires New CFO Amid C-Suite Shakeup

The asset management firm has brought on former Janus Henderson executive Jennifer McPeek as chief financial officer.

Russell Investments has hired a new chief financial officer after a year of executive team shakeups at the firm.  

The Seattle-based asset manager announced Thursday that Jennifer McPeek will join Russell as its new CFO. McPeek most recently worked as chief operating and strategy officer at Janus Henderson, a role she exited last October a few months after the firm was created through the merger of Janus Capital Group and Henderson Global Investors.

Prior to the merger, McPeek had served as chief financial officer at Janus Capital.

In her new role, McPeek is replacing Matt Moss, who left Russell Investments in April. Vernon Barback, who served as interim CFO, will remain at the firm as vice chairman, a spokesperson for Russell said via email Wednesday.

McPeek’s hiring at Russell is the latest in a string of executive staffing changes for the asset manager. The firm’s chief executive officer, Michelle Seitz, began in her role in September 2017. Russell then hired a new chief operating officer in July 2018, and named a new global chief investment officer at the beginning of October.  

[II Deep Dive: Russell Investments’ Global CIO Steps Down]

“We’ve done it seamlessly and amicably,” Seitz said by phone Wednesday. “I’ve been incredibly impressed with the capability of our firm.” 

Despite the brand new executive team, the firm has managed to achieve its best year-to-date flows since 2007, bringing in roughly $3.5 billion over the nine months through September, according to Seitz. As of June 30, the firm had $290 billion in assets under management. 

As CFO, McPeek will be responsible for Russell’s accounting, taxes, treasury, management reporting, and financial planning functions, according to the firm’s announcement. She will also lead corporate services and the global sourcing and procurement teams.  

Prior to working for Janus, McPeek ran strategic planning and corporate development for ING Group’s Americas division, according to Russell. Earlier roles included working as a consultant at McKinsey and as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs.  

According to Seitz, McPeek’s background of working for a variety of firms was what made her a strong candidate for CFO. 

Seitz said that she asked the search firm to provide her with a list of diverse candidates, not just in terms of demographics, but also in terms of backgrounds. This can sometimes make the search for a new executive longer, but according to Seitz, it’s worth it. 

“I have been asking for a diverse slate of candidates during my tenure here and historically in my former role,” Seitz said. “At the end of the day, you need to pick the best candidate for the role, but make sure you’re looking at a diverse set of backgrounds.” 

And she noted that other executives are taking notice. At least half a dozen executives have reached out to Seitz to ask her for advice on building and promoting diverse talent, she said.  

“I believe there is room for improvement within our industry, but I think there’s a clear focus and an intent to make change,” Seitz said. 

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