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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Putnam Retirement No More

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

Nothing's happening at Putnam [profile] today. And that's news.

Today Bob Reynolds -- CEO of the Boston-based mutual fund company, of Putnam's insurance company sibling, Great-West Financial, and of their mutual fund parent, Great-West Lifeco U.S. -- and his lieutenant Ed Murphy are unveiling a new, internally developed brand, Empower, for the multi-part retirement plan business that includes what used to be Putnam's own retirement plan business. Earlier this year Reynolds merged the Putnam and Great-West retirement plan businesses, bought the large-market J.P. Morgan retirement plan business, combined them all into one giant provider and promoted Murphy to lead it.

The Empower logo
Yet after those mergers closed at the end of the summer, Reynolds told MFWire that it was "business at usual" at Putnam, calling organic growth the "first and foremost goal" for him and his team. Indeed, he confirms now that, though the old Putnam, large-market J.P. Morgan, and Great-West retirement plan businesses will now all go by the Empower brand, Putnam Investments itself and Great-West Financial both are keeping their brands intact.

Indeed, Putnam spokesman Jon Goldstein confirms that "Bob [Reynolds] continues to be CEO of Putnam Investments and extremely involved with the company."

So what the does Great-West/J.P.Morgan/Putnam retirement rebranding into Empower mean for fundsters? It appears to take retirement out of retail's (and institutional's) hair, keeping the Putnam brand focused on asset management and not on the technology-driven world of 401(k) recordkeeping and servicing. Reynolds has invested significantly in Putnam's 401(k) efforts (powered by Great-West) since taking over Putnam six years ago.

The Putnam retirement split and rebranding also distances Putnam's defined contribution investment-only (DC I-O) business, selling its mutual funds and other products through other providers' retirement plans, from the retirement plan recordkeeping business now called Empower. And that may make partnerships with other recordkeepers easier for the Putnam DC I-O effort. 

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