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Resolved: Robert Kaplan is no stranger to large organizations.

Even so, as new chief compliance officer at Ascensus LLC he's got a lot on his plate.

At the mammoth Drescher, Pa.-based retirement plan and college savings services provider -- one with 2,000 associates on payroll -- Kaplan will assume oversight at the corporate level as well as across multiple lines, including 529 college savings plans and the firm's broker-dealers, investment advisor, transfer agent and trust companies. See: Vanguard's 401(k) recordkeeper, Ascensus, gets set to roll up a world of third party administrators to create a small plan superpower.

In addition, he will develop and institute organizational programs while leading a compliance team that is still in formation, but which will ultimately number about 15, according to the firm. See: LPL keeps on stockpiling tip-top compliance execs, with JP Morgan's ex-CCO the latest

Before joining Ascensus this month, Kaplan's 30-year career consisted of two beefy resume entries.

He joined FINRA, the D.C.-based self regulating organization for broker-dealers, in 2000, most recently administrating the position of vice president and district director from his Philadelphia office. See: What FINRA's CEO shuffle reveals about its waning viability as the self-funded fox guarding the investor henhouse.

Previously, Kaplan spent 16 years at Fiserv Securities Inc., the Brookfield, Wisc.-based fintech firm, as senior vice president, secretary, counsel and chief compliance officer. See: Fiserv purchase of CashEdge could affect account aggregation space.

Maine to Missouri

Jeff Simes and Bas Van Rhee

In other Ascensus news, the firm is keeping up its prolific hiring pace of the last couple of years bringing on two more regional VPs to the retirement plan sales team. See: Capitalizing on 'unintended consequences' of DOL changes, Ken Fisher pounces on a fat-margin 401(k) opportunity

Jeff Simes will represent the Northeast region, covering Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Most recently, he served as a regional vice president for CUNA Mutual Retirement Solutions. Simes also held retirement sales positions at Mass Mutual and The Hartford. See: Is Hartford Financial's market exit a death knell for the annuity crowd or just more Hartford haplessness?

His counterpart in the Plains territory is Bas Van Rhee, whose stomping grounds will include Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Prior to joining Ascensus, Van Rhee was a regional retirement sales representative for Paychex Inc., where he was recognized as its 2017 district representative of the year. See: Vestwell makes hard-charging payroll startup, Namely, its portal to win plan sponsors for RIAs and IBD reps it services.

As of March 31, Ascensus had over $187 billion in total assets under administration. 

See also:

Ascensus homes in on indie 401(k) advisors with adds of Commonwealth, Morgan Stanley vets

Andy Hockman to cover Ohio Valley as regional VP of sales for Ascensus

Michael Sperduto to cover Erie territory Ascensus as regional sales VP

Ascensus appoints longtime Vanguard alumna Carolyn Fraser as VP of relationship management 

Ascensus appoints Christian Fulmino as VP of corporate development and M&A

Stephen Winks

Stephen Winks

October 24, 2009 — 10:31 PM

Say what you may about the wirehouse ability or inability to support advisory services, but discplined manager due dilligence and process documentation in concert with the broker acting as an intermediary providing another set of eyes, very effectively screens out Madoff like managers.

The threshold question Madoff must answer before even being considered for inclusion in any reputable advisory services program is an explanation of the Madoff Investment Process. The fact that he could not answer that question would have precluded him from consideration in being approved and recommended. Madoff made that a selling point, by saying he had to approve who invested rather than going through a structured due dilligence process himself. This in effect made Madoff the advisor with the IAR recommending Madoff being remiss in their duty of acting in their client’s best interest. The lesson learned is there is an important role the advisor must play serving as an intermediary between the investor and the money manager which was largely abdicated by the IARs who recommended Madoff’s services.

If regulators wish to manage Madoff like abuses, it should require an intermediary to act on behalf of the investor to protect their best interests. Of course this is a fiduciary duty but would establish liability for skipping a disciplined independent due dilligence process which most consumers take for granted and which of course is often dismissed in practice.

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