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Dylan Huang. (Photo: New York Life)

Life Health > Annuities > Fixed Annuities

Our People Can Keep Retirement Savers on Course: Dylan Huang

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Dylan Huang can help consumers get through economic storms with a huge team of financial navigators.

Huang is head of Retirement and Wealth Management Solutions at New York Life, a policyholder-owned mutual life insurer with about $700 billion in assets under management.

He co-leads a unit that oversees all aspects of New York Life’s career agency-sold business, with direct oversight over retail annuities; long-term care planning products; the company’s NYLIFE Securities broker-dealer unit; and Eagle Strategies, the company’s registered investment advisor. The unit has relationships with about 12,000 agents and advisors.

Many of those financial professionals serve as the public face of the entire financial services sector with outreach tables at school fairs, farmers’ markets and other community events.

Huang himself is the son of an agent who sold accidental death and dismemberment insurance door-to-door in Taiwan. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in math from the University of British Columbia and a master’s degree in actuarial science from the University of Connecticut.

He got his start in financial services as a senior actuarial assistant in individual life pricing at New York Life in 2001.

When we interviewed him in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic started, he was head of retail annuities at New York Life. He talked then about the value of income annuities as tools for keeping clients from running out of income late in life.

Now, he is looking at the market through a wider lens.

He answered questions via email about the economy, how career agencies’ environment is changing, and how he’d like to expand what financial professionals say to clients.

The answers to the questions in this interview have been edited.

THINKADVISOR: What are you focusing on the most right now?

DYLAN HUANG: I’m most focused on how New York Life financial professionals are delivering holistic advice and guidance both in-person and through digital solutions that make it easier for financial professionals to serve clients and for clients to do business with New York Life.

I’m also thinking a lot about providing the right solutions in an ever-changing consumer and macro landscape — both how we deliver them and what solutions are necessary to meet the needs of our clients.

While the need to adapt our business and meet client needs is always top of mind, the current economic environment highlights why this work is so critical.

The economic environment impacts all of our stakeholders differently. Managing these impacts for our financial professionals, their clients and our employees is a priority.

What forces out there are helping, and what forces are hurting?

The macroeconomic environment is certainly creating financial headwinds for clients, and each generation is being impacted differently by rising inflation and equity market volatility.

For example, rising rates and the current market environment are driving record sales of annuities — as evidenced by New York Life being number one in sales through the first half of the year, according to LIMRA — but they are also hurting spending power at the middle market, which is primarily where New York Life is focused.

Equity market volatility is hurting consumer confidence and bringing fear to investing.

Fortunately, financial professionals can help clients navigate the environment and stay on course to remain goal-oriented and not focused on account balances.

Additionally, clients and companies are increasingly focused on ESG.

At New York Life, we recognize that our impact extends beyond the scope of our business operations and supporting our most immediate constituents.

We have been putting our financial and other corporate resources behind organizations and initiatives aimed at creating opportunities and promising futures for people from all walks of life, as well as addressing the economic and societal inequalities that have become increasingly apparent.

What do you think the market will look like five years from now?

Consumer expectations around how they interact with financial partners have been evolving for some time, but the pandemic certainly accelerated the preference for digital solutions, even among generations that had been historically less likely to embrace technology.

In five years, I expect that consumers will have access to a true hybrid model for financial guidance that includes digital tools for simple transactions and human guidance for more complex situations when a conversation with a human being is critical.

How do you see New York Life’s relationship with fee-based planners now?

Among New York Life’s financial professionals, we have a growing population of advisors who are actively engaging in fee-based planning.

Those who engage in this type of planning typically develop larger and deeper relationships with their clients and they are meeting a variety of financial needs across life insurance, annuities, long-term care insurance and investment solutions.

What, if anything, should readers be doing to bring about positive change?

Financial professionals have an important role to play in helping consumers understand the value of protection in the context of a holistic financial strategy.

For many advisors, especially when it comes to retirement planning, protection equates to an asset allocation strategy whereby clients are heavily invested in equities in their accumulation years and shift to greater investment in bonds over time as they get closer to their decumulation years.

Although that strategy has generally worked in periods of low inflation, the current economic environment has exposed the downsides to that approach.

When consumers think of protection in the context of a financial strategy, they are thinking about insurance — to not only protect an account balance but to protect their families, their income, what matters most — either in the form of life insurance, long-term care, disability income or annuities.

Annuities certainly have been well-documented as having an important role to play in a retirement strategy.

But advisors may not know that life insurance also has an important role to play.

In addition to offering a valuable death benefit, certain policies can also function as an asset class all their own by providing cash value that can be tapped in adverse market conditions, protecting a retirement portfolio from a sequence of returns risk in the early retirement years.

Ultimately, a strategy that balances insured and traditional asset classes is often most beneficial for clients.

Advisors have a unique opportunity to broaden their knowledge of the critical role that protection solutions play in securing a family’s financial future for generations to come.

Equally important is an understanding of the behavioral science component. Talking about financial planning is often emotionally charged and clients can sometimes make financial decisions that are not intuitive, so it’s vital for advisors — and others making decisions that impact clients — to deeply understand their needs to deliver on the social good that insured solutions provide.

Dylan Huang. (Photo: New York Life)


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