Tuesday, April 2
Thursday, April 4
President & CEO, Insured Retirement Institute
Wayne Chopus is President and CEO of the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), the leading association for the entire supply chain of insured retirement strategies. The association champions retirement security for all through leadership in advocacy, awareness, research, the advancement of digital solutions, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within a collaborative industry community.
Upon joining IRI in 2019, Chopus initiated a reorganization to amplify the association’s longstanding strengths and position it to take on new challenges. Under his leadership, IRI has advanced several critical advocacy objectives, including two major retirement security laws and a significant consumer protection regulation for financial advice professionals.
Under his leadership, IRI also added a new strategic pillar for DEI and a unique initiative to advance digital solutions across the annuity transaction process. Chopus revised IRI’s conference and events strategy to improve member engagement and focused IRI’s research and media communications efforts to extend the association’s reach and thought leadership.
Since Chopus joined IRI, professional organizations have recognized the association’s advocacy and marketing efforts, and Chopus was named a “Top Lobbyist” by The Hill, a notable and respected Washington, D.C. periodical.
Chopus is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Committee of 100 and a board member of Capital Area Asset Builders, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping low- and moderate-income individuals build financial security, savings, and wealth for the future.
Before IRI, Chopus rose to be a respected retirement income industry executive over nearly three decades with Prudential Financial and The Hartford, two of the nation’s major life insurance companies. He held executive leadership positions in sales, strategy, and business intelligence. He employed this experience to lead teams using data and technology to drive new business opportunities. He is widely recognized for his expertise in annuity product distribution and broker-dealer engagement.
Chopus lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, Caroline, and daughters, Lily and Hannah.
Serial Entrepreneur, New York Times Bestselling Author, and Venture Capital Investor
Josh Linkner is a Creative Troublemaker. He has been the founder and CEO of five tech companies, which sold for a combined value of over $200 million. He’s an internationally recognized expert on innovation and is the author of four books on the subject including the New York Times Bestsellers, Disciplined Dreaming and The Road to Reinvention.
Josh is passionate about starting and building companies. He’s the co-founder and Managing Partner of Muditā Venture Partners – an early-stage venture capital firm — and was previously the CEO and founding partner of Detroit Venture Partners. Over the last 30 years, he’s helped over 100 startups launch and scale. Today, Josh serves as Chairman and co-founder of Platypus Labs, an innovation research, training, and consulting firm. He has twice been named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and is a recipient of the United States Presidential Champion of Change Award. Josh is also a passionate Detroiter, the father of four, a professional-level jazz guitarist, and has a slightly odd obsession for greasy pizza.
Treasurer & Secretary, Managing Director & Head of Strategic Growth, Global Atlantic Financial Group and Treasurer & Secretary, IRI Board of Directors
Paula Nelson, Head of Strategic Growth of Individual Markets, is responsible for exploring new markets, distribution, and products to identify the right opportunities for Global Atlantic to advance and grow. She joined Global Atlantic in 2010 to lead the organization’s annuity distribution organization. She later assumed the role of President of Retirement for Global Atlantic, responsible for the organization’s overall annuity business.
Paula has more than 35 years of experience in the financial services industry. She is on the Executive Board for the Insured Retirement Institute and the CEO Steering Committee on Consumer Issues for the ACLI, two of the industry’s leading trade organizations.
Paula joined Global Atlantic from Forethought. Previously, she had served as Chief Executive Officer and President of Transamerica Capital, Inc. and Managing Director for AEGON Financial Services Group, Inc., where she was responsible for business development with AEGON’s top institutional business partners in the United States.
Paula is a graduate of the University of Minnesota. She is Series 6, 26 and 63 FINRA registered and holds a life and health insurance license in Minnesota.
Executive Director, Head of Wealth Planning & Insured Solutions, UBS Financial Services, Inc., and Chair, IRI Board of Directors
Phil joined UBS in December 2001. He currently serves as Head of Insured Solutions, responsible for the firm’s insurance and annuities platform. Prior to his current role, Phil was Head of Product & Platform Management for Wealth Planning, responsible for business analysis and project management functions across financial planning, retirement, insurance & annuities, and personal trust businesses.
Before joining UBS, Phil worked for Salomon Smith Barney, a unit of Citigroup’s Global Corporate and Investment Bank, where he held home office positions supporting financial consultants and institutional money managers. Phil began his career as a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in New York.
Phil has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in finance from the College of New Jersey. He holds several FINRA securities licenses. He is a board director of the Insured Retirement Institute. Phil resides in Hoboken, New Jersey, with his wife and son.
President, Allianz Life Financial Services, LLC, and Vice Chair, IRI Board of Directors
As president of Allianz Life Financial Services, Walther is responsible for the business results, strategic direction, sales execution and distribution for several Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life®) product lines including annuities and ETFs into multiple channels. In this role, he leads a team of Retirement Consultants dedicated to helping advisors grow their practice by helping individuals and families achieve asset growth, sustainable retirement income, and long-term financial independence.
While at Allianz Life, Walther has held several senior leadership roles in distribution and marketing, including Chief Operating Officer for Allianz Life Financial Services. Prior to joining Allianz Life in 1998, Walther was an investment executive at RBC, where he built a successful financial planning practice focused on small-business owners and high-net-worth individuals.
Walther holds an MBA from the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management, as well as a BS from Minnesota State University Moorhead. He serves on the Board of the Carlson Consulting Enterprise, a unique management consultancy and academic program that brings the brightest student minds to bear on significant business challenges for premier companies. Walther serves as a board member at the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) and is the co-leader for the Money Management Institute (MMI) Annuity & Insurance Solutions Community. Walther also serves as a Board Member of Invest in Others, a charitable foundation that amplifies the philanthropic work of financial advisors and their firms to make a difference in communities across the United States and around the world. As an advocate for diversity, inclusion and financial literacy, he actively serves on various Allianz Life committees focused on furthering these efforts. Walther enjoys spending time with his wife, Janeen, and three children, and he is an avid runner.