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Great-West Lifeco’s global headquarters is pictured in Winnipeg.JOHN WOODS/The Canadian Press

Insurance and investments company Great-West Lifeco Inc. is promoting a leader from within to chief executive officer of its U.S. business arm.

Investment veteran Robert Reynolds steps in as head of Great-West Lifeco U.S. Inc. The position puts Mr. Reynolds in charge of Denver-based Great-West Financial and Boston-based Putnam Investments, where he was already president. Mr. Reynolds replaces current U.S. CEO Mitchell Graye, who will retire in May.

By putting Mr. Reynolds at the helm of both U.S. business divisions and combining the retirement businesses of each, Great-West means to co-ordinate its business lines to better serve clients.

Paul Mahon, CEO of Great-West Lifeco Inc., said on a conference call Thursday that this change is important because company executives "fundamentally view the U.S. as the largest growth engine in the overall Great-West Lifeco franchise."

The retirement businesses at Putnam and Great-West Financial will be rolled into one unit, offering all sizes of corporate 401(k) retirement saving plans, and plans for government and non-profit groups. The combined size of the new retirement business will be more than $220-billion in assets under administration, with more than five million participants.

"I look for enhancements of services going forward," Mr. Reynolds said, adding the participant and plan sponsor websites and other marketing materials might be changed to be more consistent across the business. "It's leveraging the best of the two existing organizations."

Mr. Mahon said there are broader opportunities than just the integration of these retirement service platforms. "If you look at Great-West Lifeco U.S. in total, there's the strengths of the asset management capabilities that Putnam has, as well as the strengths of the insurance capabilities that Great-West Financial has, and now with the integrated retirement services platform we'll have these three businesses that can look for opportunities to collaborate, co-ordinate and drive … growth."

Mr. Reynolds has been working to improve Putnam's equity investment business since he arrived in 2008. Prior to that he spent 24 years climbing the rungs at Fidelity Investments, the last seven as chief operating officer of the family-owned and operated firm.

The move to co-ordinate business lines is not intended as a cost reduction or financial strategy, the company said. But it expects its retention and growth rates will improve in the U.S. retirement services market.