Putnam, Great-West Financial to combine retirement businesses

Combined companies will have $220B in assets; Putnam chief Robert Reynolds named CEO of Great-West Lifeco U.S.

Mar 20, 2014 @ 2:59 pm

By Darla Mercado

Putnam Investments and Great-West Financial have raised their 401(k) plan firepower by combining their retirement businesses.

In addition, Great-West Lifeco Inc., the parent company of both Putman and Great-West Financial, on Thursday announced that Robert L. Reynolds, president and chief executive of Putnam, has been named president and CEO of Great-West Lifeco U.S. He will replace Mitchell T.G. Graye, who is retiring on May 8 after spending more than two decades with Great-West.

Mr. Reynolds will remain CEO of Putnam.

Once Putnam's retirement business is integrated into Great-West's, the combined blocks of business will add up to $220 billion in assets under administration and more than 5 million participants. The integration only affects the retirement business.

Charles P. Nelson, president of Great-West Retirement Services, will oversee the integration, according to Mr. Reynolds, who spoke with reporters on a conference call Thursday. Ed Murphy, head of defined contribution at Putnam Investments, in the meantime, will continue reporting to Mr. Reynolds.

Together, the retirement businesses will tackle plans of all sizes.

“If you look at Great-West Financial today, they're in the 457 space and they are one of the largest providers in that market,” Mr. Reynolds said on the call. “They're in 403(b) and they're certainly a large player in 401(k).” Currently, on the 401(k) side, Great-West works primarily with small to midsize plans.

Putnam, however, works primarily with medium to large retirement plans.

Notably, the integration also pulls together two different disciplines: Great-West is a life insurer, while Putnam is an asset manager. Mr. Reynolds said that the integration is a plum opportunity for collaboration on product innovation, too.

“It's a unique opportunity to best serve the insurance, asset management and retirement clients in the still growing, highly competitive U.S. financial services market,” Paul Mahon, president and CEO of Great-West Lifeco, said on the conference call.

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