Great-West Life announces further restructuring for distribution network

By The IJ Staff | May 08 2017 01:30PM

Advisory Network team of Great-West

Great-West Life today announced further restructuring to its advisory channel organization. The new structure “includes three distinct individual advisor networks, and a wholesaling organization that together will improve efficiency, modernize our approach to distribution and help fuel future growth,” said Nick Pszeniczny, Great-West Life’s Executive Vice-President, Advisory Network.

Going forward, the company’s three individual advisory networks are: Wealth and Insurance Solutions Enterprise (for elite advisors), Affiliated Partnerships (serving MGAs and National Accounts) and Freedom 55 Financial which continues as its own network.

The changes announced today follow other recent restructuring announcements from Great-West, including the alignment, in November 2016, of its Canadian Operations into two business units -- one focused on individual customers and the other on group customers. In March 2017, the company’s individual distribution organization was renamed Advisory Network and in late April, Great-West Lifeco announced a business restructuring that includes the elimination of 1500 jobs.

In an exclusive interview with The Insurance and Investment Journal, Pszeniczny said approximately 250 positions are expected be eliminated as a result of the newly announced changes to its advisory channel – about 200 in 2017 and another 50 in 2018. These job eliminations are included in the 1500 total previously announced in Great-West Lifeco’s business restructuring.

The 250 eliminated positions would be in field management, wholesaling and administration roles where the company finds redundancies, said Pszeniczny, adding that they will keep their “very best.”

There are no plans to trim the organizations’ network of 25,000 advisors. The goal of the restructuring is not to reduce the number of advisors, but to better align them, he added.

New elite advisors network

The new elite advisors network, Wealth and Insurance Solutions Enterprise (WISE), brings together advisors from London Life’s Wealth & Estate Planning Group and Great-West Life’s Gold Key channel. “Made up of successful and independent entrepreneurs, Wealth and Insurance Solutions Enterprise will be the premier affiliation for leading financial security advisors. The common thread between advisors and firms is the specialized advice they offer business owners and professionals to help them meet their goals,” said Pszeniczny in an announcement to the sales force.

Mark Foris, Vice-President, Wealth and Insurance Solutions Enterprise will lead this network. “Working closely with Mark, Mike Rigato, Vice-President, Elite Advisor Group, will continue to focus on elite advisors, as he did in his prior role as Vice-President and chief distribution officer, Wealth & Estate Planning Group.”

Pszeniczny says bringing together the elite advisors into one network will provide opportunities for “exciting synergies” and allow these advisors direct access to senior managers such as VPs.

Freedom 55 Financial

Freedom 55 Financial will continue as a network with Abbie MacMillan, Vice-President, Freedom 55 Financial, leading a revamped channel, says Pszeniczny. He adds that Freedom 55 advisors will benefit from improved digital platforms as the company continues to invest in innovation.

The third network, Affiliated Partnerships, works with managing general agencies (MGAs) and National Accounts. Jim Brownlee, Vice-President, Affiliated Partnerships, Managing General Agencies (MGAs) will lead this network. Brownlee was formerly Vice-President, Western Canada, Freedom 55 Financial and Wealth & Estate Planning Group. Sanjeev Khosla, Director, Affiliated Partnerships, National Accounts, will continue in his role as national leader for National Accounts. 

Wholesaling organization

Pszeniczny also announced a new structure for its wholesaling operations that combines Product Sales & Marketing Centres and the Canada Life Regional Marketing Centres into one new wholesale organization. The new organization will be called Wholesaling and Product Solutions, and its locations will be called Product Solutions Centres. “The goal of this consolidation is to achieve more continuity in wholesaler development, processes, capabilities and product expertise for a consistently great advisor experience,” he said.

Reporting to Mike Cunneen, Senior Vice-President, Wholesaling and Product Solutions, Sean Downey, Vice-President, Product Solutions Centres, will lead the sales organization in the Product Solutions Centres.

Pszeniczny says that the reorganization will allow the organization to save on costs that can be invested into the kinds of innovation needed to meet customer buying preferences, such as digital platforms, data analytics, etc.

United brand coming?

With this continuing integration, is Great-West Lifeco on a path to unite its three brand names, Great-West Life, Canada Life and London Life? Pszeniczny says, “We haven’t made any brand decisions…We’re going to act responsibly as opposed to quickly.” While rumours abound in this regard, talk of consolidating brands is “premature and inappropriate but we look at everything…”

Asked what will be the biggest challenge ahead in this new restructuring, Pszeniczny said combining and harmonizing different organizational cultures can be a risk which Advisory Network is looking to mitigate with various efforts. He says the organization has been seeking the advice of a council of advisors to help it navigate this integration.