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David Feather to head Russell Investments Canada

David Feather president of Russell Investments Canada. HANDOUT

Russell Investments Canada Ltd. has snapped up David Feather, a veteran executive at Mackenzie Financial Corp., to lead its next stage of growth in this country.

The 46-year-old executive, who has a history of being a product innovator at Mackenzie, takes over as president from Irshadd Ahmad who is nowing running the Russell Investment operations in Britain. Tacoma, Wash.-based Russell Investments is the creator of the Russell indexes, and known for its fund-of-funds business that includes the popular Sovereign Investment Program sold through brokers.

Mr. Feather, president of Mackenzie's fund arm, told staff Monday that he was resigning, but would be staying until the end of March. Mackenzie is a unit of IGM Financial Inc. . See the previous Fund Watch blog.

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"I will tell you that it is heartbreaking leaving a great company with a lot of great friends...but I am ecstatic about moving on to this great opportunity at Russell," he said in an interview on Tuesday.

Mr. Feather will be overseeing Russell's retail, institutional and consulting businesses in Canada. "We are looking to broaden the business even further…and expand the range of investment offerings," he said.

Mutual funds are often a "great core" for a investment product shelf, but Russell is also focused on offering fund portfolios, separately management accounts and alternatives, he said.

But Mr. Feather, who got a lot of a attention last fall after Mackenzie published a somewhat provocative brochure for advisers entitled "I Thought I wanted an ETF [exchange-traded fund]" is tight-lipped on those alternatives.

Interestingly, he might become involved in some kind of ETF venture in the future. Russell, the parent firm, which has licensed its indexes to the iShares ETFs, has filed with regulators to enter the active and index ETF segments of the industry. There is also speculation that Russell might launch fund-of-funds type of ETFs.

In January, Russell appointed James Polisson as managing director of Russell's global ETF business and Andrew Arenberg as managing director of global ETF distribution. The pair were instrumental in building Barclays Global Investors' iShares business before it was bought by BlackRock.

"Russell's heritage of innovation and thought leadership across the spectrum of investment services uniquely positions us to be the leader in the next evolution of the ETF industry," Russell's chief executive officer Andrew Doman said recently.

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It looks like the lines between mutual funds and ETFs are indeed blurring.

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