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Athene tackles priority crisis in retirement savings

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Serving evolving needs: Jim Belardi, CEO, CIO and cofounder of Athene Holding Ltd and a partner at Apollo Global Management (File photograph)

Fighting the retirement savings crisis is a priority for Athene Holding Ltd, Jim Belardi, the cofounder and chief executive officer has declared.

He told Best’s Review that the company was started in 2009 with the sole purpose of providing guaranteed income to retirees.

The company has $320 billion in total assets, largely because of organic growth, Belardi said. AM Best cited Athene ($38.2 billion or 10.69 per cent of the market) as the largest US issuer of total annuities in 2023.

Athene describes itself as “a leading retirement services company that specialises in helping its customers retire with confidence and is a solutions provider to institutions”.

Mr Belardi is quoted in the July edition of Best’s Review: “The retirement savings crisis has only gotten a lot worse since we first identified it 40 years ago. And so there has to be a solution for people to live well in retirement, and that’s what we’re focused on providing.”

He said their view on the retirement savings crisis is unchallenged and Athene is built to help address that crisis.

Mr Belardi also discussed the $11 billion all-stock merger between the company and Apollo Global Management, the high-growth alternative asset manager with retirement services capabilities.

Apollo set up Athene in 2009 and held a 27 per cent stake, before bringing it back inside in 2022.

He said: “Since 2010, Athene and Apollo have raised more than 40 per cent of all the private capital coming into the insurance industry – just our company – and over 50 per cent of the public capital.

Athene Holding is a leading retirement services company with operations in Bermuda, the United States, Canada and Japan (Photograph by David Fox)

“The insurance industry has returned almost 80 per cent of their market cap in the form of stock buybacks. Talking about the life sector, my point is they’re not generating capital, they’re returning capital. So, you need capital to grow.

“Athene and Apollo, with a few others, are really the leaders in generating, bringing in new capital, and growing profitably. But the industry as a whole hasn’t and isn’t, and I’m not sure that’s going to change.”

Asked about the most significant challenges for he and Athene, he said: “I feel fortunate to be leading a winning company, and our challenge is to never get complacent and continue to serve the evolving needs of our customers.

“We see vast opportunity with both an increasing retirement population and increasing retirement need as we continue to live longer.

“We are looking at solutions to provide guaranteed yield, but also offer consumers the opportunity to obtain more yield and participate more directly with investment products.

“There is a retirement savings crisis everywhere in the world, and our offerings will continue to evolve to serve this need.

“The next frontier for Athene is to develop a broader product suite as well as solutions for the defined benefit and defined contribution market.

“These plans present opportunities for long-dated, fixed income in guaranteed and non-guaranteed formats, which allows for greater yield and more direct participation, providing retirees with more options.”

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Published July 05, 2024 at 5:59 pm (Updated July 07, 2024 at 5:04 pm)

Athene tackles priority crisis in retirement savings

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