Ex-WaMu Managers Yoakum, Pokrzywinski Start Investment Firm

Randall Yoakum and Gary Pokrzywinski, both former Washington Mutual Inc. executives, have co-founded a money-management firm advising clients on investing in high-yield debt and asset allocation.

The two opened Seattle-based Strategic Income Management LLC in October. Pokrzywinski most recently served as chief investment officer for Principal Financial Group Inc.’s Edge Asset Management and Yoakum was its chief investment strategist. Both previously worked at WM Advisors Inc., a Washington Mutual unit sold to Principal Financial in 2006.

Their new company, known as SiM, is working with American Beacon Advisors Inc. to start and manage American Beacon SiM High Yield Opportunities Fund, slated to begin investing in speculative-grade bonds and loans early next year. The startup is also teaming with First Trust to establish SiM 60/40 Dynamic Allocation Portfolio, which will invest in equity and fixed-income exchange-traded funds.

“We have been and remain overweight in high yield,” Pokrzywinski said in a telephone interview. “It will obviously be an asset class that is enduring, and one that’s competitive with anything out there.”

Pokrzywinski formerly managed the $2.3 billion Principal High Yield Fund, rated five stars by Morningstar Inc. In 2009, the fund won the Lipper Fund Award for best performance over five years in the high-current-yield category.

High-yield, high-risk debt, known as junk, is rated below Baa3 by Moody’s and less than BBB- by S&P.

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