What does the retirement-income security strategist foresee? This enormously influential demographic will keep on making history — big-time.
Financial advisors, take careful note.
“As they’ve grown up, boomers have changed every facet of their lives — whether it’s the emergence of the suburbs or the emergence of McDonald’s and Pampers. There’s no doubt that, with their retirement, boomers will impact and fundamentally change the financial services industry too. That’s fascinating to me,” says Heather Dzielak (pronounced ja-LOCK) of Lincoln Financial Group.
At age 39, she certainly isn’t boomer-age; but it is this huge chunk of largely affluent retirement-stage consumers that is her prime focus. Her official title sums it up: senior vice president of retirement income security ventures.
Who: Heather Dzielak, Senior Vice President of Retirement Income Security Ventures, Lincoln Financial Group, Philadelphia
Leading a group of 15, she strategizes with every company head within Lincoln Group to help leverage the vast opportunities that retiring boomers present. The team creates new retirement income-related products, distribution and other businesses designed to grow the entire firm, which includes a network of 7,200-plus financial advisors. Among other enterprises, it also has a wholesale distribution group — which works with the likes of Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and LPL Financial — as well as a unit that markets 401(k) and 403(b) plans.
It was Dzielak’s recommendation to start RISV, launched in 2006 and born of her previous successful stint to position Lincoln as an RIS leader.
“Heather’s visionary oversight of innovative new processes, products and services will ensure that Lincoln Financial continues to be seen as a retirement asset-gathering engine within the marketplace,” says Dennis Glass, CEO of Lincoln Financial Group.
An articulate team player who says that she finds “comfort” in collaborating to solve problems, Dzielak visualizes clearly a major “flight to advice.” “As they move into retirement, people are seeking out advisors more often and at a higher level than they had during their working years.
“So to have expertise in retirement planning is an obvious business-growth opportunity. That’s where the money’s going.” But acquiring such expertise doesn’t always mean converting your practice, “just extending and adding to it,” says Dzielak from her Philadelphia office. Four days a week, she commutes to headquarters by corporate jet from her home in Hartford, Connecticut.