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Wilshire Builds Out Alternatives Expertise With Senior Hires

One of the newcomers to Wilshire Funds Management has worked for quantitative hedge fund firms.

Wilshire Associates, a consulting and investment management firm, is expanding its funds group with two senior hires to help meet growing investor demand for alternative assets.

Jessica Nicosia, who has worked for quantitative hedge fund firms including R. G. Niederhoffer Capital Management, has joined Wilshire Funds Management to develop its alternatives offerings, according to a statement Thursday from the firm. Wilshire also hired Cian Desmond, from wealth manager Shepherd Kaplan Krochuk, to focus on alternative investment strategies within its research division.

“Cian’s alternative investment research and manager selection experience for institutional and ultra-high-net-worth clients deepens Wilshire’s alternatives research capabilities,” Jason Schwarz, president of Wilshire Funds Management and Wilshire Analytics, said in the statement. Nicosia, meanwhile, will help innovate the firm’s offerings in risk premia and hedge fund managed accounts, he said.

Large consulting firms, including Aon, Cambridge Associates, and Willis Towers Watson, have been pushing into asset management, where fees are typically more lucrative than for advisory services. Schwarz said Wilshire’s hires reflect the firm’s commitment to bolstering its expertise in alternatives amid increasing investor interest in the asset class.

New York-based Nicosia, who has held marketing roles at quant funds R. G. Niederhoffer, Vegasoul, and J. E. Moody & Co., will report to Schwarz. Desmond will work in Santa Monica, California, reporting to Rob Noe, the head of Wilshire’s manager research group.

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Wilshire Funds offers multi-asset and alternative investment services, managing about $50 billion of assets on a discretionary basis at the end of June while advising investors on $184 billion of holdings.

The Santa Monica-based firm has made other hires this year for its fund business. In late June, Wilshire announced that it had hired two senior investment professionals, Suehyun Kim and Rebekah Chow, as part of its effort to deliver consulting and customized investment services to an expanding client base.

Kim, a portfolio manager focused on multi-asset strategies, joined from Cetera Financial Group. Chow, who focuses on fixed-income strategies in Wilshire’s research group, previously worked as an investment analyst at Aon.

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