A results-driven record earned ALPS CEO Ned Burke the top award from NICSA for leadership at a firm, while an unwavering commitment to the money management industry and guiding his peers garnered Fred Naddaff, chief operating officer of FIS' Transfer Agency and Investor Services, an award for industry service.
The acheivements of both industry heads were celebrated at the 14th annual NICSA/NOVA awards last week in Boston.
Burke was presented with the NOVA Award for Strategic Leadership, while Naddaff received NICSA's Robert L. Gould award for outstanding service to the fund industry. Among his industry contributions, Naddaff is on the board of directors of NICSA, serving as chair from 2012 to 2014.
The industry organization also recognized the innovative work of money management firms.
In partial recognition of the $2.4 billion in assets earned by Goldman Sachs' quantitative strategy driven ETFs in just a year — considered one of the best product launches in the history of the industry — Goldman Sachs Asset Management received the NOVA Award for Innovation in Product Development & Marketing.
In recognition of its comprehensive view of employee engagement, which relied on future planning and innovative technology, OppenheimerFunds received the NOVA Award for Operational Excellence.
NOVA Award for Strategic Leadership
Ned Burke, ALPS
As a firm serving the financial industry, ALPS has gone through a rapid transformation in the past several years. Steadily steering a path for the company all the while has been its CEO, Ned Burke.
"If you roll the clock back, ALPS had a pretty modest beginning as a service provider to bank-sponsored mutual funds and now is a full-fledged financial services firm supporting many, many segments of the industry," said NICSA President Jim Fitzpatrick.
Under Burke's leadership, ALPS has evolved into a turnkey service provider for the investment management industry offering compliance, fund accounting, fund administration, legal administration, tax, and transfer agency services to open- and closed-end funds, ETFs, hedge funds and interval funds.
"Previously they were only focused on distribution marketing," Fitzpatrick said. "[Burke's efforts] have grown the organization to a very large and successful player, and certainly one of the more recognizable firms in the industry.
"Ned has really been the driving force behind ALPS' growth and place in the industry," Fitzpatrick adds.
Today, ALPS Advisors manages and distributes more than $15 billion in propriety investment products. Over the last five years, under Burke's leadership, ALPS Fund Services has grown its assets under administration 175%, doubled the number of funds it services and added more than 200 new clients.
"Success in the financial services industry requires that you be ready to evolve with the changing marketplace. ALPS' success over the last several years proves that philosophy, and I am extremely honored to be recognized by NICSA," Burke said.
"This honor would not be possible without the hard work of all of our employees as they play an integral role in meeting the needs of our clients."
Outstanding Service to the Fund Industry - Robert L. Gould Award
Fred Naddaff, FIS
This year, NICSA voted to award Fred Naddaff, an industry veteran well known to the organization, its prestigious Robert L. Gould award.
Named after the late president of DST Systems, the award is meant to honor Gould by recognizing lifetime achievements among actively contributing NICSA members.
"Fred has made significant contributions, not only to the industry, but every firm that he has worked at," Fitzpatrick said.
"He has always been a driver of growth, he is very strategic in how he looks at the business and how he services clients, and he has just made a huge impact."
Naddaff is chief operating officer of FIS' transfer agency and investor services business. With FIS' acquisition of SunGard in 2015, Naddaff has been with the firm for over four years.
Previously he served as managing director of strategic business development for SunGard Asset Management, where he facilitated successful key business transactions in support of enterprise initiatives.
In this role, Naddaff was also responsible for formulating a comprehensive managed services strategy that leveraged SunGard's expertise in core asset servicing systems and processes to complement its clients' business models.
Naddaff brings over 35 years of experience in the financial services industry, including executive-level positions at high-profile firms including Citi, BISYS, First Data and State Street/BFDS.
Most recently, he served as president of Citi Fund Services, and provided executive oversight for Citi's North America outsourcing services.
Naddaff's industry commitment includes speaking at numerous conferences yearly, and his numerous contributions as a longstanding member of NICSA, serving on its board for six years and as its chair from 2013 to 2014.
"He is a highly regarded, a true professional," Fitzpatrick said. "He just unbelievably passionate and energetic. He is just one of those guys that people love to work for and love to work with."
Naddaff said he is humbled by the experience, considering some of the previous Gould award winners.
"It's also been my privilege, over the past 30 years, to be greatly involved with and contributing to the NICSA collaboration for the sake of betterment in investment operations," he said. "I can't overstate how invaluable the organization has been throughout my career."
NOVA Award for Innovation in Product Development & Marketing
Goldman Sachs Asset Management
It's been a big year for Goldman Sachs Asset Management.
They have captured the fancy and the wallet share of advisers with the launch of its quantitative strategy driven ETFs, putting them ahead of industry rival JPMorgan Chase.
Since Goldman began offering the new product last year, the firm has attracted $2.4 billion in assets, making the funds among the most successful product launches in the history of the three-decade-old industry, according to Bloomberg News.
Analysts add that the product, with its low pricing, positions Goldman to compete with the likes of Vanguard in passive.
Fitzpatrick said the organization's awards committee wanted to recognize the firm for the role its product development and marketing played in that successful launch.
"Their active beta product was an innovation to the ETF market in terms of product design, and Goldman has had a very successful launch of those funds and asset gathering among advisers," Fitzpatrick said. "We certainly looked at that particular aspect of the innovation in the ETF market as being pretty creative."
One thing that drew the attention of the committee was the customized marketing plan for the product that Goldman developed, Fitzpatrick adds.
On the firm's website, there is an active beta specific page and strategy to provide informational materials to advisers and clients for what differentiates the active beta product and how that assists in portfolio construction.
"It was a very innovative, very focused, very targeted approach on the marketing side toward this new product launch. I think when the committee looked at it, they thought it was a pretty comprehensive effort, especially as it relates to the ETF market," he added.
NOVA Award for Operational Excellence
An employee engagement program may not get headlines for a firm the way a major inflow of assets can, but there's great value in improving firm morale, Fitzpatrick said.
That's why two internal initiatives at OppenheimerFunds aimed at employees earned the asset manager the NOVA award for operational excellence.
"OppenheimerFunds has taken a comprehensive view of employee engagement within their operations," he said.
One initiative addresses the talent recruitment issues a number of financial firms face. OppenheimerFunds launched a future leaders program designed to bring in recent college grads, even interns, into the financial services industry, with the goal of grooming them to join the company.
"They have put together a career development program for them, and that has rotational assignments, mentor assignments and it really aids in their development from a holistic perspective, in terms of understanding the industry and their firm, their goals, objectives and their culture," Fitzpatrick said.
A second effort at OppenheimerFunds focuses on gathering ideas from employees on a firm-wide basis.
Dubbed MyVoice, it is an internal application from which they can submit ideas, based on their interactions in customer service and working with clients.
The aim is to enhance the overall client experience that the firm provides.
"Employees are encouraged to take ownership of their ideas and issues and foster development of implementing those ideas, which obviously leads to greater employee satisfaction, but also to an overall better experience for advisers and clients at OppenheimerFunds," Fitzpatrick said.
(The firm has external engagement efforts too, like a new program to help DC retirement plan advisers evaluate the benefits of semi-custom target-date funds.)
"The committee felt the programs were both creative and innovative," Fitzpatrick said. "The use of the technology application in MyVoice [was] viewed very favorably. We are happy to recognize OppenheimerFunds."