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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Three Fresh Faces Join an ETF Startup

Reported by Andrew Lusk

A trio of new execs has joined a fledgling Big Apple ETF firm. The new hires include yet another Pimco alumnus.

Over the past month, the team at New York City's Simplify [profile] has swelled their ranks to include Harley Bassman (formerly EVP and liquid alts PM at Pimco), Larry Kim (formerly VP of managed account solutions at Fidelity), and Peter van Amson (who previously was a partner at Convexity Capital Management).

Kim left Fidelity last year. (A Fidelity spokesperson was not immediately able to comment on the timing.) Bassman left PIMCO in 2017, and van Amson left Convexity Capital Management in December of 2019 before turning to consulting.

Simplify co-founder and CEO Paul Kim (no relation to Larry) tells MFWire this week, "We have a ten-person, fast-growing sales team led by [chief revenue officer] Brian Kelleher, who joined us from PIMCO [in September]."

Bassman will serve as managing partner at Simplify. Larry Kim will be vice president and investment consultant. And van Amson will now be the company's head of risk management. All three joined the firm in February.

"We launched our first ETFs in September, so the company itself was incorporated and launched in the heart of COVID," Paul Kim adds. "Having to fundraise was difficult, but also technologically easier since, just as selling a fund, we could pitch ourselves to investors via Zoom."

"It's been a mixed, but generally positive change, and I suspect a lot of people's habits and efficiencies from COVID are going to carry on well past the pandemic," Paul Kim continues.

"In terms of Larry Kim, he joins us from Fidelity, where he was in charge of various platforms, particularly supporting RIAs. Most of our clients will be RIAs and other advisors, so it's a very natural fit, both in terms of his experience and his Rolodex," Paul Kim says. "He's essentially the equivalent of an external wholesaler, but in our context, he's more of an educator, someone who knows a product and can help clients navigate implementation."

Paul Kim notes that Bassman's hire will see him in a new portfolio management position, saying, "He's literally a legend in the volatility space, and he invented the MOVE Index, which is the equivalent of the VIX Index for equity. If there's anyone who knows fixed income volatility, it's Harley Bassman."

"[Harley's] last stint was at PIMCO and we crossed paths there. He's been a longtime educator and writer, so he's a big brain and really experienced expert," Paul Kim adds

"Peter van Amson comes in," Paul Kim says, "where he was director of risk management at Convexity Capital. They're no longer running, but at their peak they were about a $15B shop. They spun out of Harvard's endowment, and Peter has a lot of experience structuring option tradings to protect and manage risk for giant portfolios."

On the company's ongoing COVID response, Paul Kim tells MFWire, "From a client servicing and new marketing perspective, Zoom and video calls have been amazing. That's allowed us to leverage and scale our resources a lot faster than we would have pre-COVID, so that's been really good as a start-up."

"It creates a level playing field and it creates access for advisors who may not have taken an in-person meeting, but are happy to take a shorter call if they're interested in our ETFs,"

Simplify was founded by Paul Kim and David Berns in May of 2020. 

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