The average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company today is, by some estimates, between 40 and 50 years. So it’s no small feat for a large corporation to survive for a century.
Still more impressive is reaching age 110. One company that has is Lincoln Financial Group, which on July 20 celebrated the anniversary in fine style: sending its senior management team to the New York Stock Exchange for the ringing of the opening bell.
To gain a historical perspective on the event and the company’s key priorities today, LifeHealthPro Senior Editor Warren Hersch interviewed Lisa Buckingham, LFG’s executive vice president and chief human resources officer, who had joined other members of LFG’s senior management team on the floor of the exchange. The following are excerpts.
Hersch: How did the meeting at the New York Stock Exchange go?
Buckingham (shown at right): It was such an honor to be there. We met the traders and others who work on the trading floor. Considering also how important the NYSE is in the larger scheme of things and the speed of electronic trading today, the overall effect was very powerful.
It was great to have our team there, in part to learn how the exchange has changed over the years. Just three years before we began trading there in 1969, the first woman, Muriel Sieber, joined the ranks of NYSE members. And, interestingly, it was only a few years ago that the NYSE installed a women’s restroom on the Board Room floor of the exchange.
There’s been much progress in the evolution of the workplace. We need to continue to celebrate this evolution, especially in financial services.
Hersch: Turning to Lincoln Financial Group, how has the company changed since its establishment in 1905?
Buckingham: The organization was built on this twin commitment: to help Americans realize their financial goals; and to serve as an honest and dependable company. That legacy remains the guiding vision for Lincoln Financial and its 9,500-plus employees today.
The company grew over time, in part through acquisitions. Among the more significant of these is our 2006 merger with Jefferson Pilot, which was game-changing for us because of Jefferson Pilot’s very strong insurance organization. We continue to build on the competencies of that acquisition.
See a timeline of Lincoln Financial Group’s 110-year history here.
Hersch: Among the challenges Lincoln Financial has encountered over the past 110 years, I imagine the Great Recession of 2007-2009 was among the more significant. How did the company respond to the downturn and what role did you play?
Buckingham: Our overriding focus throughout the credit crisis was doing our best for our policyholders. To that end, we participated in the federal government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP for 11 months, making certain throughout the process that we followed all regulatory guidelines. And we communicated to shareholders and policyholders that we were doing everything we could to protect their assets.
Secondly, we made a strategic decision in 2009 to go back to our core focus: selling life insurance, annuities, group protection and retirement plan services. As part of this transition, we sold Delaware Investments, a U.S.-based asset management firm, to Australia’s Macquarie Group.
When I arrived at Lincoln Financial in December of 2008, I engaged with company CEO Dennis Glass and other high-level executives to devise a strategy to invest in talent development; prior to that time, we were being cautious about what and where we were investing.
Underpinning this strategy was the goal of creating a consumer brand that resonated in the marketplace, and with our policyholders. My role also includes leading Lincoln Financial’s brand and enterprise communications function, and I was charged with leading this effort.
Hersch: As part of your talent strategy, has there been an enhanced emphasis on recruiting women in the home offices or advisors the field?
Buckingham: Yes. In 2009, I hired Allison Green as senior vice president, head of diversity and inclusion to spearhead our strategic focus on D&I. Allison is is charged with ensuring that we’re targeting the right candidate pools for various positions and provides leadership along with our Diversity Council. Allison also leads our Business Resource Groups, which are our employee voice within D&I.