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INVESCO Retirement's Wilkinson Taps Assets Via Public Sector

Jay Wilkinson is the new director of INVESCO Retirement's alliance sales division. He succeeds Tony Cox who was named director of INVESCO Institutional's financial services division. Atlanta-based INVESCO Retirement is a subsidiary of AMVESCAP Plc., the parent company to both AIM and INVESCO fund companies.

Mutual Fund Market News' Andrew Greene recently caught up with Wilkinson and discussed his strategy for growing INVESCO Retirement's assets. An edited version of their conversation follows.

MFMN: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your career path?

Wilkinson: I actually grew up in Oklahoma and went to Norman High School and went to Duke University, where I graduated with a degree in Political Science. I then to the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Mass., and got a Bachelors in Divinity. It's an Episcopal seminary, but it's affiliated with Harvard.

I worked in the Richard Nixon campaign in 1968 and in 1969 I became a member of the White House staff. I reported directly to [Chief of Staff] Bob Haldeman for a year as staff assistant to the president. I returned to Oklahoma in late '69 and ran for the United States Congress in 1970 and lost. It was the only year that the Republicans didn't win a seat from Minnesota to Texas.

MFMN: Sounds like you didn't choose the right year to run.

Wilkinson: No, I really didn't. I thought I could shake enough hands to win, but regretfully I just didn't quite get it done. I then worked with the U.S. Justice Department for a year and then joined a company called Planned Marketing Associates, which was a mass marketer of all insurance lines of businesses--property, casualty, hospitalization and retirement plans. I worked there for four years and that company was acquired by K-mart in the early-seventies. I left a year later and joined PEBSCO [Public Employees Benefits Service Corporation]. I became national sales director around '78. And then we began to grow the 457 business through the United States Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Counties. In 1982, Nationwide Insurance Corporation acquired PEBSCO and at that time I became president and remained in that position for 15 years. When I left we had grown the assets to approximately $14 billion. We had over 6,000 city and county political sub-divisions that were clients of ours and six state governments as well. I was responsible for client relationships and also primarily running the sales division, which was comprised of 400 individuals.

I left primarily because Nationwide decided to make some operational changes and they merged the company that I ran with a sister company that was responsible for the K-12 business and they put the other guy in charge.

MFMN: And in '97 you started with INVESCO?

Wilkinson: That's correct. Herky Harris, who is the CEO of the INVESCO Global division, which is one of INVESCO Retirement's major lines of businesses under the AMVESCAP structure, read of my leaving and asked me to come down and talk about joining INVESCO.

MFMN: And you were in charge of strategy for the 457, 403(b) and 401(a) channels?

Wilkinson: Correct.

MFMN: What was INVESCO Retirement's marketshare like in those channels when you arrived and what strategies did you implement?

Wilkinson: It was quite small at the time, but INVESCO Retirement is somewhat unique in the manner in which it is structured. We have two divisions, one of which is our full service record keeping division where we provide full service plans for large 401(k) clients. So, we provide the full service record keeping, enrollment as well as investment products for our partners. The second division, the one that I will be responsible for now, is called the alliance division.

And through the alliance division, we work through alliance partners which are comprised of insurance companies and consultants.

We first obtain shelf space and position the INVESCO mutual funds and commingled trust funds into the various packages of these alliance partners who bring the distribution to INVESCO. The second phase of it is to then work with their field forces to explain the advantages and benefits of the INVESCO funds, because, of course, they have large portfolios comprised of other funds.

There is one other piece of it, which is what we call the investment only phase where it is not uncommon for a large jurisdiction like the City of New York or the State of Florida, to go to bid for a certain fund in a certain style or class.