Lexington, KY-based Unified Trust has created the new role of Chief Investment Officer and has tapped Michael Weiner for the position. Weiner, who most recently served as Vice-President with Huntington Bank, will be responsible for establishing and implementing investment policy, including research, policy development, asset allocation, mutual fund and separate account manager selection. The role serves both the wealth management and retirement group lines of business.

“A big part of what I’ll be doing in the [retirement] part of our business is learning all the things that have been done and finding a way to institutionalize it so that things can be streamlined and possibly made even better,” notes Weiner. Although he is new to the role (11 days at the time of this interview), Weiner says streamlining could mean looking at things like different automation of processes and/or memorializing and cataloguing processes that could then be trimmed to a smaller number.

Also on the retirement side, Weiner notes Unified’s concept of being a discretionary trustee and offering the Unified plan which maps participants needs over time as a person ages, are quite strong from his perspective and not priorities in terms of changing or altering. Although he says in the future, the firm may consider its investment options and on the defined benefits (DB) side, its asset allocation models.

“On the wealth management side,” explains Weiner, “I see there might be a different tier of clients we might want to address,” discussing what his role might involve at the firm. “An even more robust platform, which might include individual securities portfolios or something of that nature that we don’t presently do. It might include an evaluation of the asset allocation advice we are giving whether it’s inclusive enough of all the categories we have, or should be considering in this lower return environment.”

These two areas, he says, are ones he could see being top of mind as no one person has dedicated themselves to these asset allocation and product development issues so far. “Anything we do needs to be integrated into our systems and so it’s learning our systems and understanding what effect the change will have. I can see that the firm wanted an individual or set of individuals who were spending all their time thinking about what we might want to do to make the investment process a little better or more competitive,” he adds.

In the meantime, Weiner say he will be looking at the CIO “business” and ensuring if it has the people needed and processes in place that would put the wealth management business as the priority.

Unified Trust manages about $3 billion in assets nationally with one-third on the wealth management side and two-thirds on the retirement (401(k) and DB) side.

Joel Kranc is Director of Kranc Communications, focusing on business communications, content delivery and marketing strategies. He has written and worked in the retirement and institutional investment space for 17 years covering North American markets, large institutional pensions and the adviser community. joel@kranccomm.com.


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