North American Company leadership


 Esfand  Dinshaw - Chairman & Chief Executive Officer

Esfand Dinshaw
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer

Esfand Dinshaw is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sammons Financial Group and Chief Executive Officer for Sammons Financial Group. Esfand develops the strategic direction for the insurance organization and turns that vision into a clear path for the business to grow.

Since joining the company in 1999, Esfand has held several roles. He has over 39 years of experience in the insurance industry.

In addition to his position at Sammons Financial Group, Esfand serves on the Board of Directors of the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) and is a past Chairman of the Board of Directors for LL Global (LIMRA and LOMA), both insurance-related organizations.


Jerry Blair - President, Sammons Life Insurance Group

Jerry Blair
President, Sammons Life Insurance Group

Jerry Blair is president of the Sammons Life Insurance Group. Jerry joined Sammons Financial Group in 2005 and was promoted to Chief Distribution Officer for the life group in January 2019.

As a member of the life senior leadership team, he was instrumental in redefining the company’s go-to-market strategy for the Midland National and North American business lines. Jerry notes his immediate top priorities are an aggressive focus on product development, expanded distribution, and enhanced customer experience. This includes continued investment in technology modernization, capability mapping, and experience prototyping, as well as streamlining internal processes and expediting the end-to-end customer and client experience.

Prior to joining Midland National, Jerry spent 13 years in various home office positions with Western Reserve Life and InterSecurities Inc. He has earned his ChFC, LUTCF, and LLIF designations, and is 6, 7, 24, and 63 licensed with the NASD.



  Rob TeKolste - President, Sammons Independent Annuity Group

Rob TeKolste
President, Sammons Independent Annuity Group

Rob TeKolste is president of Sammons® Independent Annuity Group, a business division of Sammons Financial Group. He is also a member of the Midland National and North American Board of Directors.

Rob is responsible for the overall business strategy and leadership of Sammons Independent Annuity Group. This includes leading the fixed annuity distribution through independent agent channels, such as independent agents, Independent Marketing Organizations, and Registered Investment Advisors. He also oversees product development, the profitability of new business and in-force business, sales, and distribution relationships of fixed annuities within these channels. Rob is also the Site Leader of Sammons Financial Group’s West Des Moines office.

Before he came to the company in 1999 as senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Sammons Annuity Group, Rob was vice president of Sales at Conseco (previously American Life and Casualty Insurance Company). With over 30 years of experience in the life insurance market, he has continually worked to achieve aggressive growth goals by identifying market needs, implementing sales programs, and building teams of innovators.

Rob serves on the Principal Charity Classic board, which raises money for children’s charities in Iowa. He’s also on the Board and Executive Committee of the Federation of Iowa Insurers. Rob received a Bachelor’s of Science in business administration and management from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and holds the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation.


Bill Lowe - President, Sammons Institutional Group

Bill Lowe
President, Sammons Institutional Group

Bill Lowe is President of Sammons Institutional GroupSM, Inc. (SIG), a member company of Sammons Financial Group.

SIG provides individual retirement solutions to financial professionals in banks and broker/dealers through its wholesale divisions, Sammons Retirement Solutions® and Midland Retirement DistributorsSM. Prior to joining Sammons Financial Group in 2011, Bill spent 17 years at ING in a variety of leadership roles. In his over 35 years in the financial services industry, Bill has managed a broker/dealer, run 401(k), IRA, and annuity businesses, and has a successful track record creating and distributing 401(k)s, variable annuities, fixed annuities, life insurance, mutual fund products, and managed accounts.

Bill has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Computer Science from Doane College. He has participated in executive programs at Dartmouth and the University of Chicago, and completed the CEDEP General Management Program at Insead in Fountainebleu, France. He is a General Securities Principal, Investment Advisory Representative, Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant, and Fellow of the Life Management Institute. He is currently on the boards of the Insured Retirement Institute in Washington, D.C. and Freedom for Youth in Des Moines, Iowa.


Ron Ottenbacher - President, Corporate Markets Group

Ron Ottenbacher
President, Corporate Markets Group

Ron Ottenbacher is president of Sammons® Corporate Markets Group, a business division of Midland National® Life Insurance Company and North American Company for Life and Health Insurance®

As president of Sammons Corporate Markets, Ron is chiefly responsible for growing the shareholder value of Sammons Financial Group and Corporate Markets, a unit dedicated to bringing innovative solutions tailored to customers’ needs.

Ron joined Sammons Financial Group in 2003. Prior to his position at the organization, Ron ran the Bank-Owner Life Insurance business at Clarica Life Insurance Company in Fargo, North Dakota. He has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry.

Ron is a member of the Iowa Bar Association. He is Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant and has achieved the Fellow, Life Management Institute designation. Ron holds a Bachelor of Science in business and a Juris Doctor from Drake University Law School.


Teri Ross - President, Shared Services division

Teri Ross
President, Shared Services division

Teri Ross is president of the Shared Services division at Sammons Financial Group.

As president of this division, Teri is responsible for all operations for the companies’ life and annuity product lines, including agency, new business, suitability, underwriting, policy administration, and claims departments. She also oversees the information technology functions for the company. Shared Services is the largest division at Sammons Financial Group, with over 950 employees who provide service to more than 1.6 million in-force life and annuity policies.

Before joining the company in 2001, Teri worked at Principal Financial Group where she held a variety of roles focusing largely on 401(k) administration. Since joining Sammons Financial Group, she has been in numerous leadership positions centered on business operations. Teri’s expertise is rooted in over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry.

Teri is a member of the Global Insurance Chief Operating Officer Roundtable (GICOOR) and McKinsey Women in Insurance Executive Roundtable. She’s earned numerous designations including FINRA Series 6, 7, 24, 66, and SIE designations; Fellow, Life Management Institute (FLMI); LIMRA Leadership Institute Fellow (LLIF); Associate, Annuity Products and Administration (AAPA); Associate, Customer Service (ACS); and Associate, Secure Retirement Institute (ASRI). She serves on the board for Young Women’s Resource Center, and previously served on the board for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa. Teri is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa where she received a B.A. in management.


Chris Cook - President, Beacon Capital Management

Chris Cook
President, Beacon Capital Management

Chris serves as president of Beacon Capital Management at Sammons Financial Group. He is a member of the company's senior leadership team. In this role, Chris oversees the registered investment advisory (RIA) and turnkey asset management program (TAMP) channels of Sammons Financial Group. He leads the team supporting advisors and their clients along with the overall corporate growth objectives to expand services in the retirement marketplace.

Chris has years of experience in investment management. In 2000, he launched his own registered investment advisory firm, Beacon Capital Management, to provide next-generation investment strategies. He joined Sammons Financial Group in 2021 as part of the company's acquisition of Beacon. He holds a variety of licenses from FINRA.

Chris is the author of the bestselling book, "Slash Your Retirement Risk: How to Make Your Money Last with a Simple, Safe, and Secure Investment Plan." He is a graduate of Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Science in business administration and a concentration in finance.


Anne Cooper - Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer

Anne Cooper
Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer

Anne Cooper, Ph.D., is senior vice president and chief human resources officer for Sammons Financial Group.

In this role, Anne oversees all aspects of Human Resources strategy and execution. Her primary focus is on sustaining a healthy, high-performing culture and a values-based work environment.

Prior to joining Sammons Financial Group in 2013, Anne served as head of Human Resources for a division of ING/Voya. During her time at ING, she led HR teams and partnered with global businesses while living in the United States, the Netherlands, and Korea. With over 25 years’ experience in organizational development and human resources, Anne brings a deep knowledge of the industry and a successful history of leadership.

In addition to her position, Anne serves on the Board of the Central Iowa Chapter of the American Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa Board of Directors, Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Talent Board, as well as the Western Washington University Foundation Board. She is a member of American Psychological Association and the Society of Industrial/Organizational Psychologists. Anne completed her undergraduate degree at Western Washington University where she received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. She later received her Master of Science and Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology from Iowa State University.


Brian Hansen - Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary

Brian Hansen
Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary

Brian Hansen is senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of Sammons Financial Group.

Brian is responsible for the management and operation of the Legal and Compliance division of the company.

Prior to joining Sammons Financial Group in 2008, Brian was a partner at Jenner & Block LLP. He has over 20 years of legal experience in the financial services industry, and has held several roles in the legal and compliance areas within the company.

Brian received his Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Iowa and his Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa’s College of Law.


Don Lyons - Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Don Lyons
Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Don Lyons is the chief financial officer of Sammons Financial Group.

As chief financial officer, Don is responsible for the strategic and operational planning, direction, and alignment of the corporate services divisions: finance and accounting, corporate development, internal audit, enterprise risk management, and corporate actuarial. Don oversees each unit’s particular strategy and goals, with a distinct focus on executing plans that meet the needs of the operating companies.

Don joined Sammons Financial Group in 2002, where he started in annuity product development. From there, he shifted his focus to reinsurance. He moved into the role of corporate actuary where his responsibility focused on valuation, asset/liability management, corporate modeling, and experience studies. Don became the company’s chief financial officer in 2013. Previously, he held positions at ING, Amerus, and USG Annuity & Life with a strong history of annuity product development and asset/liability management.

In addition to his position as CFO, Don serves as a member of both the Society of Actuaries and the American Academy of Actuaries. He has received the Fellowship of the Society of Actuaries (FSA) designation. Don received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Iowa State University.


John Melvin - Senior Vice President & Chief Investment Officer

John Melvin
Senior Vice President & Chief Investment Officer

John Melvin joined Sammons Financial Group as senior vice president and chief investment officer in 2021. In his role, John designs and directs the investment strategy for the company’s asset portfolio, overseeing financial performance and results. As a member of the senior management team, John creates and enhances the company’s investment vision, supports its continued growth, and assures alignment with the company’s vision.

John joined Sammons Financial Group from Hartford Investment Management Company (HIMCO) where he served as CIO and, previously, head of portfolio management. Prior to The Hartford, John served as CIO of Goldman Sachs Insurance Asset Management, overseeing the firm’s global insurance assets and fixed income portfolio. He also served as managing director and head of insurance fixed income, Americas, for Deutsche Bank.

John has a Master of Business Administration in finance from The Stern School of Business, New York University, and an undergraduate degree in business and economics from Lehigh University.

 

 

Sammons® Financial Group is comprised of North American Company for Life and Health Insurance®, Midland National® Life Insurance Company, including its divisions, Sammons Annuity GroupSM and Sammons® Corporate Markets Group, Sammons Retirement Solutions® Inc. and Sammons Financial Network® LLC, member FINRA.