Eric Henderson, the president of Nationwide’s annuity unit, is one of the people in charge of private-sector efforts to help people save for their own retirement.
He oversees a business that manages about $100 billion in annuity assets for hundreds of thousands of retail annuity holders.
Henderson is a fellow of the Society of Actuaries, with both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in math from The Ohio State University.
He serves on the board of the Insured Retirement Institute.
He started out at Nationwide as an actuarial assistant in 1985. Since then, he has held many different positions at the company, including senior vice president of the individual investments group and chief financial officer of the individual investments group.
Via email, we asked Henderson a set of questions that touch on both his professional life and on what he does off the clock.
1. What market indicator, industry statistic, regulatory change or advisor trend are you watching most closely right now and why?
The annuity business is heavily impacted by the movement of interest rates, so I’ve always got an eye on what’s happening in that space. Low interest rates over the past few years have made it challenging to design or tweak certain products to ensure they provide the right level of value for our customers.
Some people view rising interest rates as a negative — but today’s rising rate environment will present opportunities for us to offer annuity products that provide even greater value for those seeking to protect their portfolio and plan for income in retirement.
2. How has it been changing recently (2021), and how do you expect it to change (2022)?
Anybody who tries to guess what interest rates will do in the future is typically wrong. Current signs point to continued upward movement due to a strengthening economy and inflationary pressures.
3. What would you suggest advisors do now or consider doing in the future about it?
Since the future of interest rates and the investment markets in general are so hard to predict, I think it’s important to folks to continue to invest throughout the market cycle. Anyone who sat on the sidelines in 2008 wondering if things were going to turn around missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime buying opportunity. Historically, those who continue to invest throughout the market cycle have come out with stronger portfolios in the long run.
4. Who or what critical source of information do you track, or follow online, to keep up with this or other trends?
In addition to interest rate, I keep a close eye on the movement of equity markets, credit spreads and various economic indicators, including consumer sentiment. These measures offer clues to where we’re headed and inform the way we think about making sure our portfolio of annuity products will be ready to meet the evolving needs of our customers.
5. Are you changing any of your work habits at this stage of the pandemic? Why/why not?