about-section

About IRA Group

We are a multi‐dimensional investment advisory boutique comprised of experienced industry leaders.

From our inception, it has been our belief that to truly best serve our clients we need to be independent and have hands‐on experience in all aspects of investment and retirement plan management. The IRA Group team embraces collaboration and our role as a boutique consulting firm. Each of our Managing Directors is personally involved in the work that creates successful investment strategies for individuals and retirement programs for plan sponsors that positively impact the lives of participants. This intentional foundation of our firm structure enables us to provide a high level of personal attention and allows clients to work directly and closely with our senior executives.

  • Customized Solutions

    One size does not fit all because no two clients are the same. We start with a collaborative analysis of needs and objectives and build a customized strategy tailored to each client’s unique circumstances.

  • Proprietary Processes

    Our investment methodology has been developed and refined in‐house over three decades and has proven to be effective in both favorable and unfavorable markets.

  • Deep Research & Logical Reasoning

    Investment research is a numbers‐based process. We receive daily information feeds on over 100,000 investments with over 5,400 data points on each. Our logic‐based research approach focuses on those metrics which are more likely to be predictive of future performance opportunities.

institutional

Institutional Advisory Services

Helping manage your fiduciary obligation while assisting your employees in achieving retirement readiness.

IRA Group provides investment fiduciary services to management committees responsible for the
oversight of corporate retirement plans, foundations, and endowments. We apply structure, analytics and
engagement to manage the fiduciary obligation and optimize results for retirement plan participants.

Defined Contribution

  • Committee charter +

    Creating a plan oversight and management structure that details the delegation of responsibilities and includes the identification of the committee and its members, committee responsibilities and governing procedures, voting procedures, process for updating members and any limits on their authority.

  • Investment policy +

    Documenting the governance procedure plan investment fiduciaries will use for selecting, monitoring and replacing investment options in an ERISA plan to assist with prudent management of plan assets, managing fiduciary liability for both the committee and plan sponsor.

  • Asset class representation +

    Determining an array of asset classes and investment styles to make available so that plan participants can create diversified portfolios with materially different risk‐return characteristics appropriate for their personal circumstances.

  • Investment style, performance and risk monitoring +

    Monitoring each investment’s asset allocation, sector weightings and underlying holdings to ensure investment options are being managed in the style intended and providing performance attribution analysis as compared to an appropriate benchmark and peer group.

  • ERISA 404(c) compliance monitoring +

    Testing the plan’s funds versus the investment tenets of ERISA 404(c) to ensure they are satisfied in an effort to provide the Committee potential relief of legal liability for any losses that are direct and a function of the investment directions given by a participant.

  • Model portfolios +

    Creating a suite of customized model portfolios built to address a wide range of plan participant risk‐ and/or age‐based investment profiles by utilizing various weightings of the funds selected and monitored based upon the plan’s Investment Policy.

  • QDIA due diligence +

    Prudent selection and monitoring of a plan’s Qualified Default Investment Alternative (QDIA) documents that plan investment fiduciaries understand the option’s attributes beyond risk‐adjusted performance such as asset class allocation, eligible investments, portfolio diversification as well as expenses and how these attributes change over time

  • Stable value due diligence +

    In addition to quantitative performance objective monitoring, an additional set of criteria such as sector allocation and credit quality of underlying securities, wrap provider diversity and credit ratings as well as book‐to‐market value are analyzed to monitor any potential impact to investment performance or liquidity over time.

  • Fee & service benchmarking +

    Providing an independent assessment of plan fees and services by comparing the services received from and expenses paid to plan service providers and investment managers to a customized and relevant peer group benchmark to assess the reasonableness of fees paid and the value of services received from each service provider.

  • Plan design benchmarking +

    Helping employers design a retirement benefit that supports their organization’s workforce recruitment and retention goals and facilitating an annual discussion on the appropriateness and competitiveness of the current retirement plan design as well as any emerging trends.

  • Service provider RFP +

    A detailed analysis and ranking of service provider experience, capabilities and fees based on responses to a customized questionnaire discussed with the committee to identify vendors selected for presentations and includes management of all inquiries, next steps and negotiations with potential providers as well as oversight of plan conversion if applicable.

  • Employee communication & engagement +

    Developing custom employee communication programs and materials to support retirement planning and investing topics as well as conducting group or individual, one‐on‐one meetings with employees.

  • Online Fiduciary Center +

    Offering a secure, on‐line portal for storing plan governance policies and documents, committee meeting materials and minutes as well as supplemental ad hoc analytical reports

Defined Benefit, Foundations & Endowments

  • Investment policy +

    Documenting the governance procedure for evaluating performance and the process investment fiduciaries will use for selecting, monitoring and replacing investments.

  • Asset class representation & allocation guidelines +

    Determining an array of asset classes and investment styles to incorporate into an efficient portfolio and apply allocation constraints to meet specific risk and return objectives.

  • Investment style, performance and risk monitoring +

    Monitoring each investment’s asset allocation, sector weightings and underlying holdings to ensure investment options are being managed in the style intended and provide performance attribution analysis as compared to an appropriate benchmark and peer group.

  • Spending policy +

    Documenting the governance procedure investment fiduciaries will use to balance the long‐term objective of maintaining the purchasing power of the asset pool with the short‐term goal of providing funds to underwrite near‐term spending needs.

  • Investment evaluation & selection +

    Using the parameters outlined in a committee’s Investment Policy to research, evaluate and select clearly delineated investments suitable for portfolio inclusion.

  • Active strategic & tactical portfolio overlay +

    Applying our price‐to‐fair value methodology in making strategic and tactical portfolio adjustments within the context of long‐term risk consistency coupled with shorter‐term opportunistic allocation adjustments within a structured and disciplined framework.

  • Expense management +

    Rigorously monitoring portfolio costs, comparing expenses to benchmark groups at the portfolio and individual position level and measuring all results on a net basis.

  • Online Fiduciary Center +

    Offering a secure, on‐line portal for storing all governance policies and documents, committee meeting materials and minutes as well as supplemental ad hoc analytical reports.

private-client-services

Private Wealth Advisory Services

A purposeful course of action based on your unique set of circumstances

IRA Group takes a holistic approach to private wealth management. We provide customized
investment solutions utilizing our proven institutional investment process. Our proprietary
research and portfolio management methods consider strategic investments for inclusion in
portfolios based on clients’ personal financial objectives

Wealth Planning and Management

  • Cash flow analysis & risk assessment

  • Liquidity needs management

  • Customized asset allocation

  • Financial planning

  • Tax management

  • Coordination with other professional advisors – • attorneys, accountants etc.

Investment Management

  • Institutional investment discipline

  • Formal investment policy statement

  • Portfolio asset class representation & allocation guidelines

  • Securities evaluation & selection

  • Securities style, performance & risk monitoring

  • Ongoing strategic & tactical portfolio management

Client Service Delivery

  • Dedicated relationship manager

  • Quarterly portfolio analysis

  • Annual investment review

  • Client portal – daily online access, account aggregation

  • Coordination of cash distribution, wires and gifting

private-client-services-steps

The path to a customized solution yielding better results…

Meet with our team

Discuss your needs, objectives, and financial resources

Review our analysis & recommendations

Cash flow, liquidity, taxes, savings rates, risk positioning, gifting, inheritance, estate

Execute & measure

Implement strategy & monitor results relative to custom defined targets

team

The Team

Your team of experienced advisors

Collaboration is central to our success. IRA Group’s Managing Directors were recruited to join the firm from large, international asset
management and leading retirement plan recordkeeping organizations. With an average 29 years of industry experience, we have created a
team purposely built with experts across many disciplines including investment management, investment analysis, trust/custodial services,
recordkeeping operations, plan design, employee communications and compliance. It is this collective knowledge and experience that enables
IRA Group to provide holistic investment and retirement plan advisory services to our clients, especially when faced with large or complex issues.

Doug Leeson

Principal

After seven years as an Account Manager with Aetna Capital Management, Doug founded IRA Group in 1992 as one of the country’s first independent, fee-based investment advisory firms focusing on the mid-size institutional market. He is a frequent public speaker, has actively served on the advisory councils of five of the 10 largest retirement plan administrators and been selected as one of the Top 100 Leaders in Atlanta’s Financial Sector by the Atlanta Business Chronicle from 2008-2019. He has served on the Board of Northside Methodist Pre-School, Northside Methodist Church Council, and the Board of The Friends of the First Tee of East Lake. In his spare time, he enjoys playing golf, squash and traveling with his family.

Lexi Bonner

Director,
Private Wealth Advisory Services

Prior to IRA Group, Lexi spent three years with Diversified Trust Company. Prior to that, she served in in multiple roles over an 11-year period within Global Wealth and Investment Management at Bank of America and Merrill Lynch. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family, her husband Clayton, and their toy poodle Benji. Lexi joined the IRA Group team in 2018.

John Frazer, CFP®

Managing Director
Private Wealth Advisory Services

John served in the US Army as an Airborne Ranger Infantry Officer from 1986 until 1989. Upon his separation from the service, he went to work for SunTrust Bank for the next 27 years in various financial advisory and executive management roles. During his tenure, he served as Executive Vice President of the Memphis Private Wealth Management Line of Business and then was promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer of SunTrust Bank, Memphis. Additionally, he served as the Executive Vice President, Private Wealth Management Division for Georgia and North Florida. Currently, John serves on the Board of the East Lake Foundation, First Tee of Metro Atlanta, and AG Rhodes Health & Rehab. Previously, he served on the Board of the Georgia Trust and on the Vestry at All Saints Episcopal Church where he was Senior Warden. John joined the IRA Group team in 2016.

Sere Austin, AIF®

Managing Director
Institutional Advisory Services

Sere began her professional career in the institutional trust division as an analyst for the investment management group of Norwest (Wells Fargo) Bank, N.A. She joined IRA Group from Southeastern Advisory Services where she was a Senior Consultant. Prior to her tenure at Southeastern, Sere worked at Veritas Consulting Group, LLC where she served as a Senior Consultant and was responsible for the development and growth of the firm’s investment consulting practice. She has spoken and served on advisory councils for a variety of organizations. She and her husband enjoy time with their children, grandchildren and family all across the country. Previously, she served on the Finance Committee of Shiloh Methodist Church and has been active in a variety of Square Foot Ministries projects. Sere joined the IRA Group team in 2010.

Harrison Leeson, CRPC®

Director
Research & Reporting

Harrison served at T. Rowe Price for three years as an Investment Specialist, educating clients on their investment options as well as T. Rowe Price’s product line for advisory services. In 2019, he was promoted to the role of Financial Consultant after becoming a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor where he assisted clients with retirement planning and implementing asset allocation strategies. Harrison played collegiate soccer for Rhodes College and traveled extensively with his junior club team. In his spare time, he enjoys golf, running, bicycling and coaching youth sports in the Atlanta area. Harrison joined the IRA Group team in 2020.

Dan Joyce

Managing Director
Institutional Advisory Services

Dan began his consulting career in 1969 with the pension department of CIGNA Corporation. In 1983, he joined Chicago Trust Company, a subsidiary of Alleghany Asset Management Company, where he founded the firm’s 401(k) business. With the merger of Alleghany Corporation and Atlanta-based Montag & Caldwell in 1994, Chicago Trust and Montag & Caldwell became affiliated companies. Dan assumed responsibility for 401(k) business development in the Southeast for the combined Chicago Trust/Montag & Caldwell. Dan joined the IRA Group team in 2000.

Amy Speas

Managing Director
Institutional Advisory Services

Amy began her professional career in the institutional services division of BB&T as an analyst for pension and non-qualified plans prior to becoming a Vice President/Institutional Services Consultant. In this role, she focused on relationship management by advising clients on defined contribution, defined benefit, and non-qualified plans in the areas of recordkeeping/administration, plan design, and employee communications. Her broad experience in financial services includes providing consultative solutions and investment advice to retirement plan sponsors as the Director of Relationship Management at Compass Financial Partners. She enjoys spending time with her brother and family in Atlanta, running the beltline, traveling with friends, and volunteering with Atlanta Ministry with International Students. Amy joined the IRA Group team in 2019.

Ashli Smith

Managing Director
Institutional Advisory Services

Ashli began her professional career in the institutional retirement services division of Fidelity Investments holding various roles in operations, relationship management, employee education, marketing and sales. She joined IRA Group from J.P. Morgan Asset Management where she was a Vice President, Client Advisor responsible for corporate retirement plan business development. Ashli has been a speaker at several retirement and financial industry events including those hosted by the Profit Sharing Council of America and Financial Executives International as well as a judge for the Profit Sharing Council of America’s Signature Awards honoring excellence in retirement plan communication and investment education. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Partnership Against Domestic Violence. Ashli joined the IRA Group team in 2015.

Judy Jolley

Chief Compliance Officer

Judy began her career as a Pension Administrator with Berkshire Life Insurance Co. (Guardian Life). She joined IRA Group in 2009 from Fidelity Investments, where she served in a variety of management roles in Fidelity’s Workplace Services division. At Fidelity, Judy was a supervisory principal and her management positions included relationship management, operations, product support, and participant communication & education. Prior to Fidelity Investments, she also served in account administration, project management and product consulting roles at John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. She has recently served on the Board of the Blairsville, GA Downtown Development Authority. Judy joined the IRA Group team in 2009.

Austin Ort, ChFC®, CRPS®, CLU®

Managing Director
Institutional Advisory Services

Austin has over 25 years of experience working with retirement plans which started at American Express Financial Advisors in 1994. He spent the next 22 years with Mutual of America Financial Group working with Plan Sponsors assisting them with their fiduciary duties. He joined IRA Group from USI Consulting where he served in a consulting and business development role. In his spare time, Austin likes to stay active walking his dogs, playing golf and fly fishing. Austin joined the IRA Group team in 2020.

Kelly Freeman

Director
Operations

Kelly began her career as an Administrative Assistant for the Director of Marketing at Delta Air Lines where she served for eight years. She left Delta to serve as the office manager at SKJ Refined Apparel and eventually joined Dewberry Capital for three years prior to IRA Group. Kelly has been a Sales Director with Mary Kay for 17 years and was selected to appear in a national sales force training video on client retention. She loves animals, sports and spending time with her family. She also leads team Kelly's Heroes which regularly finishes as a top 3 fundraiser annually in the state of Georgia for the National MS Society. Kelly joined the IRA Group team in 2004.

Sandra Wynne

Director
Research & Reporting

Sandra joined IRA Group in May of 2019. She brings over 20 years of experience in both Private Wealth and Institutional investments. Prior to joining IRA Group, Sandra spent over a decade at SunTrust Bank in the SunTrust Investment Services division and as an Analyst in the New Business division for the EBS Group. Before SunTrust, Sandra was a Sales Associate at Merrill Lynch and an Analyst in the Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Division. In her spare time, Sandra enjoys interior design, historical biographies and exercising. Sandra joined the IRA Group team in 2019.