Features

Emily Bennett – Jackson National Asset Management LLC

JNAM legal leader always invested in purpose

Whether its discovering boutique wineries in California’s Napa Valley or vetting mutual fund disclosures, “purpose” is the word Emily Bennett bears in mind.

As assistant vice president and deputy general counsel for Jackson National Asset Management LLC, Bennett’s purpose there is helping the company provide retirement solutions.

Emily Bennett | Assistant Vice President and Deputy General Counsel | Jackson National Asset Management LLC

Emily Bennett | Assistant Vice President and Deputy General Counsel | Jackson National Asset Management LLC

“It’s important to me to know our work makes a difference in others’ lives,” Bennett says. “Jackson is purpose driven to help people feel secure in retirement and is also committed to investing in communities where associates live and work through volunteering, board service and monetary giving.”

She adds: “I feel like I’m making a difference.”

Building financial foundations

Founded in its namesake Michigan town in 1961, Jackson is comprised of Jackson National Life Insurance Co., Jackson National Life Insurance Co. of New York, PPM America Inc. and Jackson National Asset Management LLC. Bennett is part of the JNAM legal team of nine and oversees a staff of three in the firm’s Chicago office.

“I think of my role in four areas when it comes to supporting the company’s initiatives—regulatory filings, working with the board of directors, contract renewals and negotiations, and compliance with SEC rules and regulations,” Bennett says. “The key ingredients to our success are collaboration and teamwork.”

It’s a big workload. JNAM manages assets of more than $264 billion distributed through more than 130 mutual funds used by Jackson’s annuity platform. Those annuities, which provide payouts to investors can be a crucial component of retirement income.

As the investment adviser to the mutual funds, JNAM continually assesses its funds and external managers as well as identifying opportunities and new ideas within the lineup, Bennet says.

Bennett and the legal team also review new initiatives, including whether they require board approval and a proxy vote by shareholders before they can be implemented. When preparing SEC filings and board materials, she also works with lawyers from the firm of Ropes & Gray LLP, who serve as counsel to the mutual funds and the independent directors of those funds.

“The relationship with Ropes & Gray, as well as our other strategic partners, is also one of teamwork and collaboration,” Bennett says.

Because JNAM also hires asset managers on yearly contracts, Bennett’s also in charge of the renewal process. It’s an effort that involves almost every team at JNAM and includes more interaction with outside counsel, as well as board presentations to approve the contracts, she says.

Larger purposes

Having recently completed an Elevating Women in Leadership program at Jackson, Bennett says she’s gained more insight into herself, both professionally and personally.

“The diversity of ideas drives creative solutions. It’s great to be a subject-matter expert, but just because you don’t know everything doesn’t mean you can’t contribute,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to speak up, it can spur new dialogues. Finding a voice is the most important thing.”

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has limited how Bennett can volunteer in person, she continues to support the Jackson Charitable Foundation financially, as well as local food banks and charities.

Bennett says she became a lawyer because she has never backed down from a challenge. But the path was not always so clear for the native of South Beloit, Illinois.

While in high school, she participated in an Upward Bound program, which supports students preparing for college. While providing opportunities for her higher education pursuits, the program also provided mentoring and cultural enrichment opportunities. At that time, she didn’t know she would be a lawyer, but she knew she wanted to work at a company that helped others achieve their life goals.

Bennett earned her bachelor’s in sociology from Beloit College and her J.D. from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School while making the dean’s list and serving as managing editor of the law review. She had a particular interest in contracts, securities and tax law.

“It really aligned in law school. I was looking at working in estate planning and probate law to make sure people have a life plan before they need it,” she says. While in law school and then studying for the Michigan Bar (and awaiting the test results), Bennett worked for a private law firm and as a legal specialist at the Michigan Public Health Institute.

Before joining Jackson full-time in 2011 as an attorney, Bennett was also a field staff worker there supporting its Go Green paperless initiative.

“In the big picture, the foundation was there all along,” she says. “While I had no idea I would end up where I did, it has been a natural progression.”

In 2013, she was promoted to senior attorney, then associate general counsel in February 2016. She became assistant vice president in February 2018 and deputy general counsel in August 2021.

“I love what I do and see challenges as opportunities. And I sleep well at night knowing the work we do has purpose and positively impacts the lives of others,” Bennett says.

View this feature in the Vanguard Fall IV 2021 Edition here.

Published on: October 21, 2021

regions:

categories: ,

Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Vanguard” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.

Testimonials

I was honored to be the subject of an article. I enjoy reading Vanguard articles and seeing how other attorneys got to their positions and see their jobs. It's also interesting to see how different law firms partner with the subjects of the articles.
– Henry Marquard, in-house counsel, Stanley Consultants Inc.
The piece highlighting my company, Bob Baker Enterprises, Inc., came out fabulous. Our company is in the new and used car sales and service industry. Everyone was great to work with and extremely professional. They produced a high-quality product and have provided expert assistance and guidance post-production of the article.
– Wade Poulson, General Counsel, Bob Baker Enterprises Inc.
It was a great honor to be featured in Vanguard Law. Working with every member of the team, from the initial interview with Erin Clark, through production with Victor Martins, writing the article with Taryn Plumb and creating the final content with Dave Gushee, was a true pleasure. Everyone was very professional, enthusiastic and supportive, and their creative approach and positive attitude clearly came through in the final product.
– Kevin C. Rakowski, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Compliance with Radian Group Inc.
As promised in advance, my feature in Vanguard has increased my visibility within the profession and prompted more than a few people I have not communicated with recently to reconnect. One of the Italian law firms I have used in the past is now in the process of interviewing me for an article on their website and tweeting out the feature story. Activity and the number of people connecting with me on LinkedIn has soared, which is great. The Vanguard writers and editorial staff were great to work with—highly professional and made the effort to make the experience both fun and rewarding (they were also respectful of the time pressures and demands all lawyers face). I was very pleased with the experience and the final outcome. Needless to say, I have been very pleased. All in all working with Vanguard has been a very positive experience which generated good publicity for both Shawcor and myself. My sincere thanks.
– Tim Hutzul, General Counsel, ShawCor Ltd.

LATEST EDITION

Fall I 2022

READ NOW

GET VANGUARD IN YOUR INBOX.

  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.