Member Spotlight

Connections that Count: A Story of Friendship and Industry Influence

Immediate past president of the Board of Women in Pensions Network (WiPN), Amy Glynn and incoming President, Kathleen Roche, have been friends and colleagues for over two decades.  They have benefited personally and professionally from their open and honest relationship. Their connection has counted in building businesses and precipitated many changes in the industry.

“It’s funny,” Amy says, “Kathleen and I complement each other particularly well and have joined forces a number of times with incredible success.”

Amy and Kathleen have been friends and colleagues since the early days of the 401(k) industry.  They met in 1994 at MFS (Massachusetts Financial Services), where they were trailblazing a path for women in the industry. At the time, most  wholesalers were men,  ALL of the branch managers were male and less than 5% of producers were female. In one another, they found kindred spirits – resilient, smart women, driven to succeed and to create support for women in this industry.  They have done this not only through women’s organizations, but also from demonstrating hard earned success. Together, their friendship has spanned their careers and has evolved into a powerful, informal coaching relationship that has served them both well.

The Early Years

Right out of college, Amy started selling collective trusts for Prudential Bache Asset Management. Kathleen, in the meantime, started her career on sales desks at fund companies in Boston and felt “just like everyone else” selling funds. This feeling drove Kathleen to learn about the 401(k) world, believing that through this business, she could differentiate herself. After moving from John Hancock to MFS in 1994, she immediately immersed herself in the retirement plan business.  Kathleen took classes outside of work to learn more about the emerging industry, which is where she met Amy.

When Amy became a Divisional Director of Retirement Sales at Smith Barney, she tapped Kathleen to run the San Francisco Bay territory. From 1997-1999, they attacked the hotbed of Silicon Valley during the tech boom. Within a short time, the dynamic duo was the #1 selling producer and the #1 divisional director, and the only women, on their respective sales teams.  And they had the highest sales. It was an eye opener to senior management such that Amy was invited to sit on the National Diversity Committee alongside Sandy Weil, Jamie Dimon and Heidi Miller.

An Epiphany

Amy has always been an advocate of promoting women and wanted to use this success to help other women, not just in our industry, but also in other male-dominated industries.  She felt companies and women needed more support and visibility to be successful.  Amy, with her entrepreneurial spirit, started the Women’s Executive Network in 1999. It was an online recruiting network both for companies looking to hire women, and for women to get access to job listings, coaching resources and other support. Again, Amy turned to Kathleen for help, who agreed to get on board as the Business Development Director. Citigroup signed up as the first client, then Microsoft, State Street, Chubb, Time Inc., quickly led to a star-spangled Fortune 500 client roster and The Women’s Executive Network being named “Start Up of the Year 2000” by the Women’s Business Journal. While, the company did not survive the fallout of the September 11th attacks, the two stayed friends as their careers took them in different paths.

Later, the two reunited at Commonwealth Financial Network where Amy was hired to build out of their ERISA strategy and practice.  Once again, Amy asked Kathleen to join the team. Eventually, Amy moved on to found the Pension Resource Institute, a national ERISA compliance management system, and today she is a Managing Partner with GRP Advisor Alliance.  Kathleen has stayed at Commonwealth for the last 8 years and has helped grow the retirement plan practice from $5B to nearly $17B as the Vice President of Retirement Consulting.

The Next Chapter and the Future

Kathleen and Amy are thrilled to team up together again and be able to resurrect their passion for women’s success in our industry through their work in WiPN and NAPA Connect. Together, they feel that they are able to bring cohesive programs to women through the combination of WiPN and the NAPA Connect conferences.  Because Kathleen and Amy are on both entities’ Board of Directors and founding committees, they are able to make sure there is strong synergy and differentiation between the two.

Looking back at Amy’s presidency of WiPN in 2016, she is most proud of the transformational year that she has overseen. The highlights include rebranding the organization, as well as clarifying who we are, how we operate and our message and “face” to the industry and our members. Amy feels strongly that WiPN is only as good as the team in place and believes her legacy in WiPN is creating a healthy operating financial model and balance on the Board. She is particularly proud of the inclusive message that WiPN is projecting to both women and men in our industry.

As for incoming 2017 president, Kathleen, her WiPN vision and plan is to continue to build presence and brand in the industry, focus on driving membership, and exposing WiPN to a broader swath of the industry’s women, especially women in roles that don’t involve travel by expanding our Local Chapters and events. She believes that every event and every interaction has to be impactful so that women stay engaged and are encouraged to advance. Finally, Kathleen is excited to grow WIPNConnect, our coaching and mentoring program, by enhancing the quarterly webinar series and expanding access to professional development experts.

Through their multi-decade relationship as colleagues and friends, Amy Glynn and Kathleen Roche are the epitome of Connections that Count. They prove that together we can make changes in the industry that benefit all – women and men alike!

Visit our updated Board pages to read bios of our new and returning Board members – be sure to reach out to a WiPN Committee Chair if you’re interested in getting involved. Like Amy and Kathleen, you can make Connections that Count and friendships that will last a lifetime.

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