The retirement plan services businesses of Great-West Financial take the name “Empower,” effective immediately. The new brand is presented to participants through www.empower-retirement.com. Empower is now the second largest retirement services provider in the U.S. market, with nearly 7 million defined contribution participants and more than $400 billion in plan assets, according to Great-West.
In an interview with PLANADVISER, Robert Reynolds, president and chief executive officer of Great-West Lifeco U.S., and Edmund F. Murphy III, president of Empower, said their vision for the new brand is to make sure plan sponsors and their participants are “engaged in their retirement plans like never before.”
“The brand is different and action oriented,” said Murphy. “It signifies our commitment to lifetime income and reflects the spirit of innovation.”
“We think this name signifies how people are going to think about retirement,” said Murphy. Retirement transcends the employee, he noted, saying the new brand reflects the four key stakeholders—retirement plan participants, retirement plan sponsors, retirement plan advisers and consultants—and the fact that there is “an element of empowerment in the way each interfaces with the plan and participant.”
Establishing the Empower brand will involve combining the expertise and client service infrastructure of multiple entities now under the ownership of Great-West, including Great-West Financial Retirement Plan Services, formerly J.P. Morgan Retirement Plan Services. There will be a strong focus on delivering retirement income solutions across all market segments served by the unified retirement services organization.
Here’s a quick reminder of how Empower came into being:
- February 01, 2007 – In a widely anticipated move, Putnam Investments announced it would be acquired from Marsh & McLennan Companies by Great-West Lifeco Inc.
- Mar 20, 2014 – Great-West Lifeco Inc. announced plans to combine the retirement businesses of Putnam Investments and Great-West Financial.
- Apr 03, 2014 – Great-West reached an agreement to acquire the J.P. Morgan Retirement Plan Services’ large-market recordkeeping business, which has $167 billion in plan assets across 200 plan sponsor clients serving 1.9 million participants.
- Sep 10, 2014 — Edmund F. Murphy III was named president of Great-West Financial’s combined retirement organization. The firm continued the integration of the retirement businesses of Great-West Financial, Putnam Investments and J.P. Morgan Retirement Plan Services. At the time, Reynolds stated there was thought about rebranding underway.
Great-West says the integration will allow Empower to serve all segments of the employer-sponsored retirement plan market—small, midsize, and large corporate 401(k) clients, government 457 plans and non-profit 403(b) entities, as well as private label recordkeeping clients. Reynolds said there will not be an impact on the firm’s private label recordkeeping segments, which will be kept labeled FASCore.
Murphy and Reynolds suggested financial advisers and consultants will be able to expect a range of unique tools and services from Empower, especially in the area of retirement income. For their part, plan sponsors and their employees will benefit from a highly customized, intuitive experience designed to help them reach retirement preparedness, Murphy emphasized.
“Our value proposition in the marketplace is that we will bring all of our resources to bear to help advisers, consultants, plan sponsors and their employees think about retirement in new ways and empower them with a series of forward-thinking resources, information and intuitive tools to achieve higher levels of success,” Murphy added. He pointed out that the Empower logo includes an iconic flowing flag that represents the firm’s focus on serving the dynamic retirement needs of Americans.
According to Murphy, clients and the broader marketplace will begin to see the Empower name through a range of direct communications, web presence, social media and print and online advertising. As explained by Great-West leadership, under Empower, the Putnam plan sponsor and participant experience will be used across the organization; along with individualized communications capabilities from J.P. Morgan. The platform and reporting infrastructure at Great-West is going to be used underneath all the offerings.
Although the Putnam and Great-West plans are already using the Great-West platform, former J.P. Morgan clients’ plans are going through a conversion to the new system, which Reynolds said will be a 24-month project. Those clients will have more than just a conversion, it is a “systems upgrade” he said. Doing this very thoughtfully is key because the firm “wants to make sure their experience is greatly enhanced once the integration takes place.”