Madison’s Russell lands at John Hancock – exclusive

The former senior managing director at the New York Life-owned lender is said to be starting a direct lending business at another insurer.  

Devon Russell, formerly a senior managing director at Madison Capital Funding who left that firm last year, has resurfaced at John Hancock, sources who know Russell tell PDI. The insurer, which also manages mutual funds and 401k strategies, is said to be starting a direct lending business.

Russell is based in Chicago, where John Hancock has offices, though the firm is headquartered in Boston. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment.

Russell left Chicago-based Madison Capital in July last year after spending 12 years at the firm. Madison Capital has seen many senior departures in recent years. Sources tell PDI this has been the result of clashes with management at the New York Life parent. The insurer has declined to comment.

Trevor Clark and Chris Williams, who used to hold chief executive and president posts at Madison Capital, respectively, also left in 2013. They are now running the direct lending business at Angelo, Gordon’s & Co.’s subsidiary, Twin Brook Capital Partners in Chicago. They have hired many former Madison Capital colleagues for new posts at Twin Brook.

John Hancock was founded in 1862 and now manages a variety of retail products in the US, including life insurance, mutual funds, 401k plans and annuities. The firm distributes products primarily through broker-dealers and financial advisors.

Many alternative investment firms and asset managers that don’t yet have private debt businesses are said to be starting them. Most of the large US insurers in particular have direct lending or mezzanine investment businesses in-house or as wholly-owned subsidiaries, such as New York Life’s Madison and MassMutual’s Babson Capital. Prudential, Northwestern and MetLife, among others, also have their own private debt and infrastructure debt arms.