Murphy to Lead Retirement at Great-West

Edmund F. Murphy III has been named president of Great-West Financial’s combined retirement organization, integrating the businesses of Great-West Financial, Putnam Investments and J.P. Morgan Retirement Plan Services.

Earlier this year, Great-West announced it would be consolidating the retirement plan business of Putnam and Great-West (see “Great-West,Putnam to Combine Retirement Businesses”), and then acquired the J.P. Morgan Retirement Plan Services large-market recordkeeping business (see “Great-WestAcquires J.P. Morgan Retirement Plan Services” and “Great-West Sees Opportunity to Cover Retirement in America”).

Murphy, who was most recently head of Defined Contribution at Putnam, is now based in Denver and reports to Robert L. Reynolds, president and chief executive officer of Great-West Financial.

Within the combined retirement organization, reporting to Murphy are executives, from across the Great-West, Putnam and J.P. Morgan companies.

  • Charlie Nelson will lead the Core ($50 million and less), Government, and FASCore Institutional Markets (the private-label recordkeeping business), all which are centered in Denver;
  • David Musto will lead Large ($50 million to $500 million), Mega (more than $500 million) and 403(b) markets; large and mega markets will be based in Kansas City and Andover, Massachusetts;
  • Carol Waddell is overseeing the rollover segment;
  • W. Van Harlow assumes responsibility for the Great-West Financial Institute and Strategic Solutions; and
  • Stephen Jenks takes over marketing for the combined entity, which will be based in Denver.

There will be more organizational announcements to come, Reynolds and Murphy said. However, “we don’t expect layoffs of any significant size,” Reynolds tells PLANADVISER, noting that as the company grows, with new plans and participants, it will need significant staff. “The driving force is: what is best for the business.”

Murphy adds that “One of the things we’ve been impressed with is the breadth of talent across the organization.” In deciding the leadership of the businesses, it didn’t matter what company someone was from, Reynolds says, we wanted to identify the people who were the best for that job.”

Asked about how the integration will feel to the plan sponsors and participants, Reynolds explains that when the organizational change was announced about six months ago, the leadership of all the companies went in search of “the best of the best” within their units. Therefore, clients will be getting the best from across each of the three companies; “you can have the same participant experience over the segments as we are coming together as one business.” The Putnam plan sponsor and participant experience will be used across the organization; J.P. Morgan’s Audience of One individualized communications, will be kept, and of course the “best-in-class” platform and reporting at Great-West is going to be used underneath all the other offerings, he explains.

Although the Putnam and Great-West plans are already using the underlying platform for their recordkeeping, J.P. Morgan’s client plans will all have to go through a conversion, which Reynolds says will be a 24-month project. Those clients will have more than just a conversion, it is a “systems upgrade” he says. Doing this very thoughtfully is key because “we want to make sure their experience is greatly enhanced once the integration takes place.”

Part of that experience is determining what branding will be used for the overall organization. The company has been researching and doing surveys about the brand, Reynolds explains, and expects to announce the brand under which the organization will operate in the fourth quarter. Taking a hard look at the brand means asking “where do we want to go” and “what do we stand for?” he says. It might be a rebranding or it might not, he said. “We have a chance to establish it in the marketplace; we want it to stand for something very special.”