(Bloomberg) -- Principal Financial Group Inc. hired Maureen Hays as managing director of consultant relationships as the insurer seeks more business at a unit overseeing $292.4 billion for retirement plans and institutional clients.

Hays will be based in New York in the newly created position and will work with middlemen who advise pension funds, a spokesman for the Des Moines, Iowa-based insurer said today. Hays joins Principal Global Investors from Axa SA’s investment managers group, where she was director of consultant relations. She previously worked at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Principal said in a statement today.

“Maureen’s impressive background, established relationships and years covering leading U.S. consultants make her uniquely qualified to succeed in this role,” George Jamgochian, executive director of U.S. distribution at Principal Global Investors, said in the statement.

Chief Executive Officer Larry Zimpleman is expanding asset management in the U.S. and overseas to add fee income at Principal, which also sells life insurance. The company last month hired Josh Rank and Matt Hanson from Aviva Plc’s North American investment unit to help run high-yield assets at its fixed-income division.

Axa Investment Managers in May announced that Lawrence Remstedt was appointed director of institutional development and relations. He was previously a portfolio manager at the Axa Rosenberg equities business, the company said in a statement that month.

Axa IM plans to “expand its relationships with consultants in the U.S. under the leadership of Ceil Baron, director of consultant relations,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “We wish Maureen the best.”

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