Women Investment Professionals

SAVE THE DATE: “What’s Important Now” Part II, Pooled Employer Plans

July 14, 2022 @ 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM America/Chicago Timezone
$10 Non-Members
Dee Farris

‘What’s Important Now’ 2022 Theme: Innovations in Defined Contribution

Series Part II: Pooled Employer Plans

Retirement access continues to be an important objective for the defined contribution industry.  While retirement plans are prevalent, the industry has looked for ways to provide retirement plan access to smaller employers as well.  In this session, we will cover the background on this newer DC market by covering how the SECURE Act that has created an avenue for firms to more easily band together, create economies of scale in running a program by outsourcing fiduciary obligations and ultimately improving employee retirement outcomes.  We’ll speak to our experts who will shed light on how Pooled Employer Plans (“PEPs”) work and how various DC stakeholders, such as asset managers and institutional consulting firms, are looking to be a part of the solution.


Ashwini Apte, CAIA, CIMA, AIF, AIFA
Defined Contribution Institutional Consultant Relations Lead

Ashwini Apte, CAIA, CIMA, AIF, AIFA, has served 18 years in the defined contribution industry. She is a senior member of the Institutional Distribution team within BlackRock’s US & Canada Defined Contribution Group. Ashwini is primarily responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with institutional DC consultants in North America, and is also responsible for overseeing some relationships with direct institutional plan sponsor clients.

Ashwini was previously with NEPC, where she was a Senior Consultant within the Defined Contribution Practice Group. She worked with DC plans in all aspects of plan evaluation consulting. Prior to joining NEPC in 2005, Ashwini was a retirement financial advisor at Morgan Stanley where she constructed and implemented comprehensive retirement portfolios through the use of strategic asset allocation techniques and risk performance analytics.

Ashwini earned a Masters in International Finance from Brandeis University and a B.A. in Economics from Brandeis University. She became a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designee in 2009, an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) designee in 2015, and an Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst (AIFA) in 2018, and a Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) in 2019. She also holds both Series 7 and Series 63 licenses.


Michele Brennan
Senior Director, U.S. DC Solutions Leader

Michele has over 25 years of experience in various client relationship management, consultant relations, business development and marketing roles in the financial services industry.

Early in 2019, Michele joined Willis Tower Watson’s (WTW) Investments business to the lead the development of US DC solutions, content and thought leadership.   She is responsible for leading efforts to develop strategic partnerships with DC plan sponsors, while leveraging Will Towers Watson’s Investments global depth and experience.

Previously, as an Executive Director, Client Relationship Manager for UBS Asset Management—Americas, Michele was responsible for managing the interaction and relationships with U.S. and Global  Investment Consultants. In addition, she was responsible for overseeing defined contribution solutions and opportunities.  Prior to this position, Michele held senior distribution roles at AMG Funds and Skyline Asset Management. At AMG Funds, she was responsible for all consultant relationships based in the U.S.

Michele graduated from the University of Dayton where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a minor in art history.  She is also a member of the University of Dayton’s School of Business Alumni Advisory Council.


Linda Kurz
Vice President & National MEP Practice Leader

Linda Kurz serves as the Vice President of Sales – Special Markets of Transamerica. Linda started at Transamerica in June of 2013. Linda currently resides in the Washington D.C. Metro Area.

Linda Kurz has nearly 20 years of professional experience in the retirement industry.  She joined Transamerica from ING Financial Advisors, where for more than seven years she was responsible for sales and marketing of qualified retirement plans through financial advisers and third party administrators.  She most recently served as a regional vice president for the company, having also served as a regional sales director and regional director of client relations.

Kurz received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Mary Washington College.


Susan Small
Global Head of Consultant Relations & Vice President
Dimensional Fund Advisors

Susan Small is Dimensional’s Global Head of Consultant Relations. Within the Global Client Group, Susan leads the firm’s Consultant Relations team in growing Dimensional’s consultant business around the world. Along with driving global strategy and execution for her team, she is responsible for defining enterprise capabilities and metrics, as well as developing a multi-year plan to broaden and deepen strategic relationships for the firm.

Susan brings to her role more than 30 years of experience in the institutional asset management industry. Prior to Dimensional, she served in numerous leadership roles, including as Head of Institutional Client Coverage, Americas, for UBS Asset Management. In that role, she led the institutional sales, client relationship, and consultant relations teams in the US and Canada. She has also led consultant relations for Deutsche Asset Management and Nicholas-Applegate Capital Management.

Susan holds an MBA in finance and international business from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a BS in finance from Northern Illinois University. She serves as Board Member and Past President of Women Investment Professionals, a Chicago-based nonprofit that supports the career development of women in the investment industry. She also serves on the Investment Subcommittee for the AMA Foundation.

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