Russell Investments makes its first appointment of a woman as CEO in 81 years Russell Investments makes its first appointment of a woman as CEO

While it can't be described as a seismic shift, Russell Investments' announcement that it has hired Michelle Seitz as its new CEO certainly can be seen as another step towards normalising the population of major asset management board rooms.

Russell Investment makes its first appointment of a woman as CEO

In announcing the appointment of Michelle Seitz as CEO, effective from 11 September 2017, Russell Investments announces the first appointment of a woman to this role from the company’s inception in 1936.

Seitz joins an exclusive club – still with a shamefully small membership – of women leading global asset management house; others include Mary Callahan Erdoes, who heads JP Morgan Asset & Wealth Management, M&G’s Anne Richards and Abigail Pierrepont Johnson at Fidelity Investments.

Russell Investments, a $277 bln asset manager, was sold by London Stock Exchange in 2016 to the private equity buyers, TA Associates and Reverence Capitial Partners for $1.15 bln .

Seitz was formerly CEO at William Blair Investment Management, where she oversaw a fivefold rise in AuM during her 16 years in post.

first appointment of a woman as CEO

She replaces Len Brennan at the Seattle based asset manager, who will remain as chairman of the Russell Investments until the end of 2017. He will then take on the mantle of an advisor to the firm.

Tod Crockett, managing director at TA Associates, said, “We are excited to welcome Michelle … her forward-looking leadership will help propel the company into a new phase of evolution and growth.”

The challenges Seitz faces include establishing further stability within Russell Investments, following the departure of three owners in as many years: mitigating the rise of passive funds, and remaining risk savvy in relation to record-high market valuations.

Seitz said it is her intention to ensure the company is on the “offence rather than the defence”, in the face of any major issues.

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