By Cyril Tuohy
For ING U.S, it’s a new year and a new brand. Now, a bevy of new faces and young managers step into senior positions to guide the company as a stand-alone insurance carrier freed of its Dutch parent in the wake of last year’s initial public offering.
ING U.S. Chief Risk Officer Michael Smith was named last month as chief executive officer of insurance solutions. He takes over from 65-year-old Donald “Butch” Britton, who will stay on as a senior advisor to Rodney O. Martin Jr., chairman and CEO of ING U.S., until June 30, the company said.
Smith, 50, will report to Martin and will retain his responsibility for the closed block variable annuity segment, the company said. Smith has 28 years of experience in the life and annuity segment. The Insurance Solutions group includes ING U.S.’s individual life and employee benefits segments.
An actuary with degrees in economics and Russian, Smith joined ING U.S. as chief financial officer and chief insurance risk officer of the annuity business in 2009. Smith, a chartered financial analyst, joined ING U.S. from Lincoln Financial.
Succeeding Smith as U.S. chief risk officer is 59-year-old Chet Ragavan, currently chief risk officer of ING U.S. Investment Management, the company said. Ragavan, also a CFA charter holder, has undergraduate and graduate degrees from universities in India, and a master’s of science from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
“We are fortunate to have the necessary executive bench strength to promote into these important roles from within the organization and thus preserve the continuity with our employees, customers, clients, and distribution partners,” Martin said in a statement.
Martin said Smith and Ragavan, promoted from within, “validate” the company’s process for nurturing internal talent.
Stepping in to replace Ragavan as chief risk officer of ING U.S. Investment Management is 43-year-old Amir Sahibzada, who previously served as managing director, head of investment risk. Sahibzada will report to Ragavan and ING U.S. Investment Management CEO Jeffrey Becker, the company also said.
Becker praised Sahibzada for “a number of strong contributions,” helping the company demonstrate a “robust risk management culture.” Sahibzada, former global head of risk management with D.B Zwirn & Co., holds undergraduate degrees in physics and mathematics and a graduate business degree from the University of Chicago.
Taking on Sahibzada’s former duties as the new head of investment risk management at ING U.S. Investment Management is 49-year-old Brad Taylor, who most recently served as senior vice president, investment risk, the company said.
“I’m looking forward to continuing to work closely with Amir and Brad to build upon our strong risk management practices,” said Ragavan in a statement. “I’m also pleased that we can fill these important roles from within our organization – being able to do so speak to our strong risk talent and culture.”
Taylor, an actuary, holds an undergraduate degree in statistics and is a chartered financial analyst.
ING U.S. has also announced that veteran corporate sales executive Stephen F. Keating has been hired by ING U.S.’s Retirement Solutions unit as head of Large Corporate Market Sales. Keating will be based in Braintree, Mass., and will report to Rick Mason, president of corporate markets for ING U.S. Retirement Solutions, the company also said.
Keating, a former executive with Fidelity Investments and holder of FINRA Series 6, 7, 24, 26 ,and 63 licenses, will head sales of recording-keeping services for large employer-sponsored 401(k) defined contribution and defined benefit plans, the company also said.
“His industry knowledge and outstanding record of sales success complement the talent of the large corporate market team and will create opportunities for ING U.S. to advance the level of retirement readiness for more Americans,” Mason said.
ING U.S. has made serving retirement plans a priority as tens of millions of baby boomers generate unprecedented need for retirement services and advice.
Martin praised Britton for instilling in ING U.S. a passion for the business and for the protection of the company’s clients.
“Butch is well known and highly regarded through the life insurance industry and our employees, customers, and distribution partners have benefited considerably from his insurance coverage to protect their loved ones and their retirement savings,” Martin said. “That passion is embedded in our culture today thanks to his leadership.”
Britton joined ING U.S. in 2004, when the company was a subsidiary of the Dutch multinational banking and financial services giant ING Groep. ING U.S. was spun off in an IPO last year, and will be rebranded as Voya Financial later this year.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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