Robert M. Jurgensmeier will succeed William W. Lester as chief executive officer, following his forthcoming retirement at the start of next year, according to an announcement by the firm. In addition, Susan K. Wilkinson will take over as president and chief operating officer.
Effective Jan. 2, 2024, Lester will retire as president and chief executive officer of Ameritas Mutual Holding Company, Ameritas Holding Company and Ameritas Life Insurance Corp., and as chair, president and CEO of Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. of New York.
“Bill's legacy reflects 40 years of unwavering commitment to the Ameritas purpose and customers and to everyone associated with the organization,” stated Board Chair Tonn Ostergard. “Bill is an outstanding leader and an exemplary representative of Ameritas within the industry and community. The board and I thank Bill for his leadership and congratulate him on his retirement.”
Lester began his career with Ameritas in 1983 as a securities analyst and held numerous positions throughout the organization before becoming CEO in January 2020. Among his accomplishments, he played a key role in the mergers with two life insurance companies during his career with Ameritas. More recently, Ameritas acquired two companies complementing the Ameritas group benefits and retirement plans businesses. Lester's time as CEO was characterized by organizational growth and significant investment in transformative technology and processes, including the launching of GoalWise—a digital, interactive retirement savings and financial wellness platform to help manage the end-to-end retirement savings journey.
“Ameritas has been my career, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunities I've had and the people I've come to know with this remarkable company,” Lester stated. “Ameritas is strong and stable, with an outstanding team of dedicated associates and a growing network of excellent distribution colleagues. Now is a good time for me to take this step.”
“Bob and Sue are experienced, knowledgeable and prepared to continue building on a record of growth and success at Ameritas,” Ostergard stated in announcing the leadership selections.
Jurgensmeier has worked in the insurance and financial services industry for over 25 years. He began his career with Ameritas in 2012 as senior vice president and chief actuary, individual division, and currently serves as executive vice president, independent distribution and investments.
“I'm excited to take this handoff from Bill,” Jurgensmeier said. “I'm proud of the difference our associates and financial professionals make for our customers and communities, and I look forward to leading the next phase of growth for Ameritas.”
Wilkinson joined Ameritas as a corporate accountant in 1995 and has held various leadership roles. She was elected executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer in 2018.
"I have a deep passion for the way Ameritas helps our customers improve their lives and plan for the future," added Wilkinson. "I look forward to helping the organization and our associates grow and develop."