Service sector

Better service means better retirement security: Mutual of America’s Brian Se

What do you want to know

  • The COVID-19 pandemic prompted Mutual of America to turn to a virtual environment.
  • Today, the company helps its customers through the turmoil.
  • Severin believes personalized service can increase the chances that workers start saving early and keep saving.

Brian Severin wants to convince workers across the United States to start saving early, keep their money in their nest egg, and let their nest egg grow.

Severin is senior executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Mutual of America Financial Groupa New York-based mutual insurer that focuses on the retirement plan market and has approximately $29 billion in assets under management.

Severin earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Loyola Marymount University, then completed Boeing Co.’s management training program.

He joined Mutual of America as a sales specialist in 2000. He later served as the company’s sales director, chief sales officer and deputy marketing director before achieving his current title in 2021.

We asked Severin, by e-mail, how he got to where he was and what he saw.

How did you get into financial services in the first place?

Ever since I was young I have been fascinated by financial markets, starting with the stock market and the idea that individuals can invest their money in a business they love and own part of that business.

In high school, learning about the power of compound interest and other aspects of investing deepened my interest in finance.

Once in business school – recognizing the connection between markets and economics, particularly how they influence our lives – I saw financial services as a pathway to career growth and, most importantly, the personal development.

Entering the retirement space has fulfilled both of these desires, allowing me to grow professionally and have a positive impact in helping others save money for their future and become financially secure.

What took the most time and energy last year, and what did you learn from it?

Mutual of America has been in business for 77 years, but the past two years have seen significant company-wide transformation and growth, even with the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, we quickly switched to a virtual environment, to continue to stay in touch with our customers and prospects and to maintain our high quality customer service.

Over the past year, this approach has served us and our customers well, even as in-person business resumed in parts of the country that have begun to reopen.

We also continue to face financial market volatility and economic uncertainty, which has been compounded by high inflation, rising interest rates and the war in Ukraine.

Helping our clients through this turbulence has reinforced how vital it is to maintain regular contact at all times to ease their concerns and keep them on track with their retirement goals.

What we’ve seen over the past year has confirmed the importance of our investment in the human element of customer service and the role technology can play in helping and further empowering our customers.

What are you focusing on the most right now?

We recently implemented a new digitally-focused recordkeeping and administration platform, launched a new mutual fund trust platform, and restructured our client-centric delivery model.

The deployment of these initiatives did not, however, signify a change of direction. On the contrary, we put even more emphasis on our customer-centric approach.

Last year, we had a plan sponsor retention rate of 98.7%, reflecting our commitment to helping our customers, most of whom are nonprofits and small businesses, and the trust they have in us to help them in good times and in difficult times.

Which forces help and which forces hurt?

The global events that have fueled volatility this year are just the latest illustration of why planning for a financially secure future is so important.