The definition of retirement in America has been evolving to include not just decades of golf or boating, but working, volunteering and pursuing a range of other personal interests. Regardless of what activities people might enjoy, getting to retirement for most means achieving some sort of financial independence; having the money to generate a stream of income to meet one’s needs; and ensuring that money lasts throughout retirement. While the journey is a personalized one, for most people it will include much saving, planning and decisionmaking.
Charlie Nelson, CEO of retirement at Voya Financial, spoke with PLANSPONSOR about the evolution of retirement and implications for the retirement plan industry in 2016.PS: Charlie, let’s start just looking back at 2015. You’ve had a busy year. I know you joined Voya Financial to head up the retirement business. What have you been up to since you got there?
Charlie Nelson: Having been in the industry for over 30 years, this recent change has presented an exciting new opportunity for me. I started in May, as the CEO of Voya’s retirement organization. I currently oversee the company’s workplace and individual retirement businesses. This includes the tax exempt and corporate market segments, as well as our broker/dealer [B/D] and retail wealth management teams.
I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the strong team of individuals we have, as well as the breadth of solutions and the capabilities we have within Voya.
PS: What attracted you to Voya?
Nelson: What initially attracted me was the opportunity to be part of a newly independent company that is on an incredible journey to become “America’s Retirement Company.” We have a unique and compelling mix of businesses with some very established leadership positions in the retirement, investment and insurance marketplaces. Our workplace retirement plan business is one of the largest in the industry—it serves more than 46,000 employers and nearly 5 million retirement plan investors. Each of Voya’s businesses plays an important role in our strategy to help consumers plan, invest and protect their savings so they can get ready to retire better.
In terms of Voya’s accomplishments, we’re at an incredibly exciting point in our journey. We completed an IPO in 2013—one of the best performing offerings that year—and our stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange. We debuted last year on the Fortune 500 list, coming in at No. 268. Earlier in 2015, Voya achieved complete independence from its former European parent. We’re now a financially strong, U.S. public organization with one of the most diverse boards in the industry. What this means is that Voya is truly in charge of its own destiny, and we’re shaping how to best deliver retirement readiness value for our clients and partners.
To that end, we also announced last year that Voya is making a $350 million strategic investment over the next couple of years to help grow our business. Most of this is going to be focused on enhancing our technology and digital capabilities, which will help our company become even more oriented toward the consumer. We believe this is a compelling proof point that demonstrates our commitment to the business. In many respects, Voya is operating in a very unique place. Despite being a large, well-established market leader, we have the vibe of a startup organization that wants to help people think differently about retirement.