Mutual of Omaha Names 401 (k) Sales Chief

Mutual of Omaha has named Seth Friedman to serve as 401(k) national sales director. He takes over for Michael Ziccardi, who left the firm in December to join Rekon Intelligence, which works with advisors to help them build out their businesses.

Friedman most recently served at Mutual of Omaha as national sales director of registered retirement products.

The firm has also named Mark Jewett and Dan Runser as retirement plan wholesalers. Jewett has been with Mutual of Omaha since 1978, with most of his career focused on the pension marketplace.

Meanwhile, Runser has more than 15 years experience selling 401(k), 457 and defined benefit plans.

"Seth, Mark and Dan are proven financial sales managers who understand advisers' needs in order to be successful in the retirement plans industry," stated Scott Herchenbach, senior vice president of Retirement Plans at Mutual of Omaha.

KPMG Beefs Up Alternatives Advice Team

KPMG LLP is expanding its alternative funds team with the addition of John Budzyna as national leader, market development for Alternative Investments and Maurice Holmes as managing director, market development for Alternative Investments.

Budzyna served most recently as CEO of Cutting Hedge Consulting Co. LLC, an advisory firm to the hedge fund industry, and also serves as the chairman of the board of Hedge Funds Care, a charitable organization supported by the hedge fund community. Holmes most recently served as a director in the Credit Suisse Investment Banking Division, where he oversaw prime services sales for emerging markets, and served as global leader of its hedge fund consulting services.

Rob Arning, KPMG's Vice Chair - Market Development, said that Budzyna and Holmes "bring with them strong industry credentials and deep experience in the alternative investments space. They truly understand what companies are facing today in terms of regulatory and business growth challenges and will play an important role in helping our clients navigate their way forward."

BlackRock Nabs a Permal Exec

Joshua Levine, a former head of the America's institutional sales team at The Permal Group, is joining BlackRock to lead the firm's public and corporate pension plan effort on the East Coast.

Levine, who will start in March, will have the title of managing director at BlacRock, and be part of the firm's U.S. and Canada institutional team, reporting to managing director Edwin Conway, who joined BlackRock in March 2011 as head of the U.S. & Canada institutional business within the firm's Global Client Group. As co-leader of the pension business, Levine will handle the group's operations along the East Coast, developing and managing relationships with institutional clients in that region, while managing director Al Goduti will handle the business on the West Coast.

This will be the second stint at BlackRock for Levine. Before joining the Permal Group in 2007, Levine had served as director of BlackRock's Latin American institutional business.

At Permal, Levine executed the firm's institutional strategy in the Americas and directed the institutional sales team for the region. He grew the company's client base to include public, sovereign wealth, and Taft Hartley funds, as well as foundations and endowments.

A Permal spokesperson told Money Management Executive that: "The role of co-Head is now defunct and his other co-Head, Roberto Giuffrida, is today Head of Global Business Development."

BlackRock's U.S. & Canada institutional business has $1.1 trillion of assets under management and is responsible for all client service and sales activities within the region.

Direxion Names its Southeast Sales Head

Alternative mutual fund shop Direxion has hired Greg Blue to serve as senior regional sales director, focusing on the Florida market.

Blue is responsible for selling and distributing all of Direxion's buy-and-hold alternative investment strategy products to financial advisors across all channels, including regional broker-dealers, registered investment advisors (RIAs) and wirehouses.

He reports to John Cadigan, national sales manager at Direxion.

Prior to joining Direxion, Blue was at John Hancock, serving as a senior vice president and business consultant responsible for expanding the company's business in Florida. Direxion said that Blue "exponentially" increased Hancock's sales in this market by broadening financial advisor headcount and relationships, making Florida one of Hancock's top five business territories.

"Greg's track record of successfully building consultative relationships in Florida and throughout the Southeast will allow Direxion to bring alternative investment strategies to more advisors and investors in this important market," said Cadigan.

Earlier in his career, Blue was part of ING and Fidelity Advisor Funds.

Direxion has been making a number of moves in the buy-and-hold space this year. Earlier this month, the firm launched the Direxion Indexed Managed Futures Strategy Fund (Ticker: DXMAX), which is designed to replicate the Auspice Managed Futures ER Index. This index is a completely quantitative, rules-based managed futures index made up of 21 futures markets (containing both physical commodities and financials).

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