BRYN MAWR, Pa. - George Nichols III was named president and chief executive officer of The American College of Financial Services, beginning Nov.1.
Nichols comes to The College after a 17-year career with New York Life, most recently serving as executive vice president in charge of the Office of Governmental Affairs, which encompasses all state, federal and international legislative, regulatory and public policy issues at the company.
“George is one of the nation’s most highly regarded and influential leaders in our industry,” said James Meehan, chair of the board of trustees at The American College. “His entire career in the profession has been dedicated to advancing financial services for the benefit of society”.
Nichols joined New York Life in 2001. During his first five years there, he held a variety of principal roles including special assistant to the chairman supporting strategic initiatives related to international marketing and regulatory policy; senior vice president in the Agency Group; and head of New York Life Direct, the company’s Tampa-based direct sales unit. He joined the Office of Governmental Affairs in 2006, assumed its leadership in 2007, and was subsequently named to the company’s Executive Management Committee. In 2017, Nichols also developed an executive leadership institute for the top leaders of the company.
“New York Life is an institution known for living its core values and doing business the right way, qualities I embedded into my career there and which I intend to carry into this next phase of my journey,” Nichols said. “The commitment of the college to fostering the industry’s highest ideals of professionalism, trust and service is one that I am honored to continue. I welcome the opportunity to share my leadership, values and dedication for the benefit of future generations of financial professionals, to help them fulfill their calling and further their pursuit of lifelong learning.”
For nearly 90 years, the college has had a strong working relationship with New York Life, educating more than 7,500 of its leaders, agents and employees through graduate degrees and designations such as the Chartered Life Underwriter and Retirement Income Certified Professional, as well as providing educational preparation for the Certified Financial Planner exam.
“In welcoming George to the college, we look forward to his leadership and expertise as we continue on a path of success in leading financial services education,” Meehan said. “We have a shared vision to help professionals and companies reach their full potential through relevant learning opportunities that raise expectations and standards, build sustainable advantages for our clients, and influence the industry and the general public for the common good.”
Prior to joining New York Life, Nichols was the commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Insurance, where he regulated the state’s $10 billion insurance industry and was recognized for his expertise in health insurance reform and financial services integration.
Before that, he was the executive director of the Kentucky Health Policy Board, vice president of marketing for Athena of North America, executive director of product development of Southeastern Group, Inc. (dba Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kentucky), executive officer of Central State Hospital in Louisville, and executive assistant to the commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Mental Health/Mental Retardation Services.
He was Kentucky’s first African-American insurance commissioner (1995), the first African-American president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (1999), and the first African-American elected to New York Life’s Executive Management Committee (2006).
Nichols has been named twice to the list of “Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America,” (2018 and 2012) by Savoy, the leading African-American business and lifestyle magazine.
He received an M.A. degree from the University of Louisville, a B.A. degree from Western Kentucky University, and an A.A. degree from Alice Lloyd College. He and his wife, Cynthia Jean, have three adult children: Courtney, Jessica and George IV.
Todd M. Schoon, a past chair of the board of trustees who was appointed interim president of the college on May 1, will continue to serve in his current role through the end of October.
The announcement of a new president is not the only change scheduled to take place at The American College.
The college's operational headquarters is moving from Bryn Mawr to King of Prussia, Pa., and the relocation to its newly purchased building is expected to be completed by June.
The move is expected to provide the college with expanded space that will include a media center.
With its roots dating back to the late 1920s in the faculty office of Dr. Solomon Huebner at the University of Pennsylvania, the college rapidly expanded from educating life insurance experts to professionalizing financial planners, wealth managers and others offering financial advice. The college acquired property in Bryn Mawr, and moved to the current 35-acre location in 1961. The campus was sold in 2007, but the college remained onsite at MDRT Foundation Hall, named in recognition of the Million Dollar Round Table’s financial support in building the facility. Currently, over 200 faculty and professional staff work at the college.