New John Hancock Retirement CEO Sees Growing Demand for Retirement Advisors

Wayne Park, CEO of John Hancock Retirement

What You Need to Know

A John Hancock survey shows that 56% of Americans feel as if they have fallen behind in their efforts to save for retirement, up from 43% last year.
Among investors who met with a financial professional, 87% feel the advisor has helped them better prepare for retirement.
Advisors are in high demand but face big challenges, CEO Wayne Park says.

The combined forces of higher market volatility, rapidly rising interest rates and greater global economic uncertainty are presenting major challenges for middle-class and mass-affluent investors focused on retirement planning.

As Wayne Park, John Hancock Retirement’s newly appointed CEO, told ThinkAdvisor in a recent interview, survey data shows that investors are clearly feeling the strain, with many more Americans feeling as if they have fallen behind in their efforts to save for retirement.

Park pointed out that John Hancock Retirement has been conducting an annual survey of retirement investors on its recordkeeping platform for nearly a decade now, and the shifts in investor perceptions measured across the last two editions of the survey are eye-opening.

“For example, 56% of people who responded to our latest poll feel they have fallen behind on retirement savings,” Park noted. “That is significantly higher than the year before, when it was 43%. At the same time, more people also said they are now expecting to retire later than they did before. Some 38% of people told us that this year, which is also up.”

Park said these figures are clearly worrying from a retirement preparedness perspective, but there are also silver linings in the data, particularly when it comes to the value Americans report they derive from working with financial professionals.

“The reason why we love to partner with financial advisors as a fundamental part of our approach to this business is that having a plan in place helps people to understand and feel better about their unique situation,” Park said. “This is clearly a challenging environment for the typical retirement investor, but if you have a financial advisor, they can really help you to confront and surmount the challenge.”

Park said one stat from the survey shows the role of the retirement advisor is clearly here to stay: Among investors who meet with a financial professional, some 87% feel the advisor has helped them better prepare for retirement.

“This group is also three times more likely to say their retirement savings are on track or ahead of schedule, showing the power that advisors have to shape outcomes,” Park said.

New to the Role

Though he boasts an extensive amount of experience in the retirement planning and investment management industries, Park is still new to his leadership role at John Hancock Retirement. In fact, the new interview came on his 90th day in the pilot’s seat, and he said the first three months on the job have been equal parts busy, exciting and informative.

Prior to joining John Hancock Retirement, Park served as president of American Century Services within American Century Investments, where he was responsible for direct-to-consumer and retirement plan businesses as well as an operations group supporting all client markets and channels. Prior to that, he had been head of individual investors for T. Rowe Price Group.

Park said he has spent the first 90 days in the new job getting to better know the organization and the environment in which it is operating today, and that work has included meetings with financial advisors and business partners, particular third-party administrators.

“As you would probably imagine, I have heard about some similar trends and challenges across these different groups of stakeholders, and their remarks reflect what’s happening here within John Hancock Retirement,” Park said. “The retirement industry is being impacted at a high level by many of the same trends that are impacting other industries.”