DCIIA Appoints New Head of Retirement Research Center – PLANADVISER

Pam Hess will take over as executive director of a research center that includes advisory councils staffed with some of the industry’s largest retirement plan advisories.

The Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association announced Thursday that Pam Hess has taken over as executive director of the organization’s Retirement Research Center, the association announced in a press release.
Hess ascends to the position after joining the RRC in 2021 as vice president of research. She succeeds Warren Cormier, the founding executive director of the center, who will remain involved as director emeritus with a focus on custom research done exclusively for one organization, according to the release.
In November, DCIIA announced the formation of three new advisory councils to provide stakeholder input and guidance on the most important topics and needs of the industry. As executive director, Hess will identify and run key research initiatives with input from some of the biggest retirement plan advisories and institutional consultants in the space.
Hess played an “instrumental role in conceptualizing and developing the Advisory Councils” with the RRC leadership and staff, a spokesperson said by email. Hess has also led the organizing discussions and resulting meetings and events and will continue to do so in her new role, the spokesperson said.
The Councils advise the RRC on potential topics, review research papers, and facilitate collaboration between the RRC team and specialized segments of the industry, the spokesperson said. They also meet formally each quarter to review projects, priorities and collaboration opportunities with members.

In 2022, the center published reports with member input on industry topics ranging from low- and moderate-income worker views on financial wellness to an analysis of custom target date funds. In November, the association announced the three new advisory councils with industry organizations to add to its existing academic advisory council.
Hess played an “instrumental role in conceptualizing and developing the Advisory Councils” with the RRC leadership and staff, a spokesperson said by email. She has also led the organizing discussions and resulting meetings and events, and will continue to do so in her new role, the spokesperson said.
The Councils advise the RRC on potential topics, review research papers, and facilitate collaboration between the RRC team and specialized segments of the industry, the spokesperson said. They also meet formally each quarter to review projects, priorities and collaboration opportunities with members, she wrote.

DCIIA’s Advisor Institute Council includes representatives from Hub International, CAPTRUST, Gallagher Fiduciary Advisors, Marsh McLennan and the SageView Advisory Group, among others. The Institutional Consultant Advisory Council includes representatives from Aon, Callan, Mercer, and NEPC.
Cormier, now in an emeritus position, will be focused on expanding the RRC’s proprietary projects pipeline, in which custom research is conducted exclusively for one organization, and will serve as a general resource, according to DCIIA. The former executive director joined in 2018 after working as CEO and co-founder of Boston Research Technologies and president and founder of Boston Research Group. He is also the co-founder, with Dr. Shlomo Benartzi, of the Behavioral Finance Forum.

Before joining DCIIA, Hess worked at Aon Hewitt as director of retirement research. Earlier in her career, she worked on the investment side at Aon Hewitt and with other firms in the financial services industry, including Smith Barney. She is based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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