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Portfolio > Asset Managers

Top Portfolio Products: Ex-Russell Managers Launch Boutique Firm; MassMutual Changes Funds

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This week in new portfolio products, Russell Investments veterans launched a new boutique firm, while MassMutual changed names on funds and enhancing their options. Also, Chris Barris was named sole primary portfolio manager for the Dreyfus High Yield Strategies Fund, and Advisors Asset Management’s High 50 Dividend Strategy Portfolio topped $700 million in AUM.

Here are the four of the latest fund developments affecting advisors:

1) Russell Investments Veterans Launch Acuitas Investments

Russell Investments veterans Chris Tessin and Dennis Jensen on July 25 announced the launch of Acuitas Investments, a boutique investment firm offering multi-manager solutions in inefficient, capacity-constrained asset classes.

The Seattle-based firm’s initial focus will be on offering a multimanager microcap product to institutions and high-net-worth investors. The first offering from Acuitas, launched in the second quarter, focuses on the micro-cap space.

Tessin and Jensen, who bring more than 35 years of investment experience to Acuitas, managed more than $16 billion in assets between the two of them during their time with Russell. Tessin served as lead portfolio manager for the micro-, small- and mid-cap products at Russell. Jensen was lead portfolio manager for Russell’s U.S. quantitative and style equity products, as well as a senior research analyst with responsibility for both U.S. equity and alternative strategies.

2) MassMutual Enhances Target Date and Lifestyle Investment Options for Retirement Plan Services Clients

MassMutual announced July 27 that its retirement services division has enhanced investment offerings in the target date (lifecycle) and lifestyle (risk aware) categories. The new investment offerings were implemented in June.

Portfolios within both the target date and lifestyle series utilize a fund-of-funds approach that combines mutual funds offered by MassMutual into professionally managed strategies that consider an investor’s expected retirement date (RetireSMART target date) or an investor’s risk tolerance (RetireSMART lifestyle).

As part of the initiative, MassMutual has renamed its Select Destination (target date) and Journey (lifestyle) fund series to capture the brand focus of its overall MassMutual RetireSMART participant platform.

Formerly Journey series investment options were only available as separate investment accounts (“SIAs”) through a group annuity contract. Now they are available with newly created RetireSMART mutual funds that employ the same investment strategy. The names are as follows:

  • RetireSMART In Retirement Fund (was Select Destination Retirement Income Fund)
  • RetireSMART 2010 Fund (was Select Destination Retirement 2010 Fund)
  • RetireSMART 2015 Fund (was Select Destination Retirement 2015 Fund)
  • RetireSMART 2020 Fund (was Select Destination Retirement 2020 Fund)
  • RetireSMART 2025 Fund (was Select Destination Retirement 2025 Fund)
  • RetireSMART 2030 Fund (was Select Destination Retirement 2030 Fund)
  • RetireSMART 2035 Fund (was Select Destination Retirement 2035 Fund)
  • RetireSMART 2040 Fund (was Select Destination Retirement 2040 Fund)
  • RetireSMART 2045 Fund (was Select Destination Retirement 2045 Fund)
  • RetireSMART 2050 Fund (was Select Destination Retirement 2050 Fund)
  • RetireSMART Conservative Fund (was Conservative Journey Fund)
  • RetireSMART Moderate Fund (was Moderate Journey Fund)
  • RetireSMART Moderate Growth Fund (Aggressive Journey Fund)
  • RetireSMART Growth Fund (was Ultra Aggressive Journey Fund)

3) Dreyfus High Yield Strategies Fund Names Chris Barris as Sole Primary Portfolio Manager

Dreyfus High Yield Strategies Fund (DHF) announced recently that Chris Barris has become the sole primary portfolio manager for the fund. Barris has been a primary portfolio manager of the fund since October 28, 2010, and has been a portfolio manager of the fund and employed by Dreyfus since July 2007.

Dean Graves and Stephen Sylvester remain as additional portfolio managers, and the Dreyfus Corporation continues to be the investment adviser.

Barris is director of the high-yield fixed income team at Standish Mellon Asset Management Company LLC, a Dreyfus affiliate. Prior to becoming director, he served as a senior portfolio manager on Standish’s high-yield fixed income team and as a senior high-yield credit analyst at Standish, responsible for coverage of the gaming and autos sectors. He joined Standish in 2005.

4) Advisors Asset Management’s High 50 Dividend Strategy Portfolio Surpasses $700 Million in Assets

Advisors Asset Management (AAM) announced July 27 that its High 50 Dividend Strategy Portfolio has topped $700 million in assets. The portfolio, a unit investment trust (UIT), is made up of 50 stocks selected by applying a proprietary dividend-oriented strategy designed to generate income with the potential for capital appreciation. Each UIT matures after 15 months and existing investors have the option to roll over their assets into a new UIT at a reduced sales charge.

AAM’s approach to investing focuses on dividend income, diversification, and long-term discipline. AAM analyzes more than 7,000 companies listed on the NYSE, NASDAQ and AMEX composite indices. After applying its investment criteria, AAM selects the five highest dividend-yielding stocks in the 10 Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) sectors. The resulting portfolio is weighted approximately 2% per stock and 10% per GICS sector to help minimize risk.

Read last week’s Portfolio Products Roundup at


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