Cathy Weatherford, president and CEO, Insured Retirement Institute, answers questions from IRI member Paula Nelson.
Nelson: 2016 was a year of disruption for the financial industry. How did IRI react?
Weatherford: We had two choices—either disrupt or be disrupted. Our key to surviving in a world of disruption is to change the game internally. Our focus was on accelerating our speed of execution and our agility to seize new opportunities. With the industry changing, new regulatory rules, and the current political landscape, IRI had to look at how we could support our members and develop new product lines to serve their clients.
We are recognized as the 'go-to' resource in the retirement industry, and our members see the value of our organization.—Cathy Weatherford, Insured Retirement Institute
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
Eight years ago when I joined as CEO, my priorities included building the infrastructure for the business, creating a brand, and advocating on behalf of consumers and our members. I’m so proud of how far we have come today. We are recognized as the “go-to” resource in the retirement industry, and our members see the value of our organization.
How did retirement trends inspire your recently published book, Women and Wealth?
The gap between men’s and women’s retirement savings is cause for concern for anyone planning for retirement. Women are 27 percent more likely than men to say that they have no retirement savings, and I wanted to take the information that I’ve acquired over the years from members and offer lessons, as well as personal accounts, from women who have overcome financial challenges.
The retirement industry is facing many changes. Boomers are working longer, with many planning to work past age 70. IRI’s members know all too well that regulation, of course, is a major factor affecting defined contribution plans. How can we help to paint a more holistic picture of retirement? By diversifying the way we communicate, this book allows us to reach new audiences.