As part of an initiative to develop its wealth management business, Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. announced it has put John Walters in charge of its wealth management business.

Walters, who has worked for the Hartford, Conn., company since 2000 and was most recently president and chief operating officer of Hartford Life, will run a business unit that will provide products and services for the retirement savings, income and estate planning needs of consumers and small business owners.

Hartford announced last week that it plans to emphasize four business segments: commercial markets, consumer markets, wealth management and digital commerce. The company said in a press release that there are a lot of opportunities to manage wealth for an aging population that needs more effective asset-accumulation and post-work-income strategies.

The company said it expects the 65+ population to increase by 36% by 2020.

Walters was hired by Hartford in 2000 from First Union's securities division.

The company has been looking for ways to alter its strategy in an effort to increase profitability. Last week it announced it paid $3.4 billion to the U.S. Treasury to repurchase preferred stock it issued under the department’s Capital Purchase Program.

The U.S. Treasury continues to hold warrants to purchase approximately 52 million shares of The Hartford's common stock at an initial exercise price of $9.79 per share. The company says it does not intend to repurchase the warrants from the U.S. Treasury.

To increase life insurance sales, Hartford said it also plans to focus on developing its presence with independent financial advisors. Historically, it  has developed the majority of its life insurance business through “mega-banks,” said Brian D. Murphy, an executive vice president in its individual life division, but sales through these companies has declined in the past couple of years.




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