Executive Officers

Executive Officers

  • Anant Bhalla

    Anant Bhalla

    Chief Executive Officer & President

    Anant Bhalla was appointed President of the Company on January 27, 2020 and Chief Executive Officer on March 1, 2020.

    Prior to joining American Equity, Mr. Bhalla was a partner of Bhalla Capital Partners, from March 2019 to January 2020.  From 2016 until 2019, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Brighthouse Financial, Inc.  From 2014 until 2016, he served as Chief Financial Officer of Retail business for MetLife. Prior to MetLife, Mr. Bhalla served in numerous senior roles including Chief Risk Officer, Treasurer and other management roles at Fortune 500 companies, including American International Group, Lincoln National Corporation, and Ameriprise Financial.  

    • Chief Financial Officer

      Axel André

      Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

      Axel André was appointed Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Company on September 7, 2021. 

      Previous to American Equity, André was Executive Vice President and CFO for Jackson National. Prior to that he spent nearly 7 years at AIG. André joined AIG initially as Chief Risk Officer for Individual Retirement, Group Retirement, and Institutional Markets. He was promoted to Chief Financial Officer of Individual Retirement at AIG, where he was responsible for overseeing all aspects of the finance and actuarial value chain for the Individual Retirement business, including asset-liability management, hedging, reporting and capital management. Prior to his time at AIG, André served as a Managing Director on the Global Insurance Strategies team at Goldman Sachs. Andre holds a PhD in Physics from Harvard University and a Masters in Science in Physics from Imperial College in London.

      • Ronald Grensteiner

        Ronald J. Grensteiner

        President, American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company

        Ronald J. Grensteiner is President of American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company. He became President on January 1, 2009. Prior to being President, Mr. Grensteiner served as Senior Vice President and National Marketing Director.

        He started his insurance career in 1985 as an agent with Northwestern Mutual Life and later served as Regional Vice President for American Life and Casualty, a subsidiary of Statesman.

        He received his B.S. from North Dakota State University. Mr. Grensteiner has more than 25 years of experience in the life insurance industry.

        • Jennifer Bryant

          Jennifer Bryant

          Executive Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer

          Jennifer Bryant is Executive Vice President (effective June 1, 2017) and Chief Human Resources Officer of American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company.

          Prior to joining American Equity as Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer in October 2016, she served as Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Bankers Trust and prior to that as Human Resources Business Partner at Aviva USA. Ms. Bryant has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources. Earlier in her career she spent 10 years with Wells Fargo in a variety of Human Resources roles. Jennifer's expertise is providing expert HR counsel with special emphasis on executive coaching, leadership and cultural change, organization development, talent management, and employee engagement.

          • Jim Hamalainen

            Jim Hamalainen

            Executive Vice President & Chief Investment Officer, Insurance

            Jim Hamalainen is Chief Investment Officer, Insurance at American Equity. 

            Prior to joining American Equity, he was EVP, Chief Risk Officer, at Brighthouse Financial, where he built a risk function focused on implementing proactive processes to manage risk.  Prior to his time at Brighthouse, Mr. Hamalainen served as SVP, Treasury and Investment Management at Ameriprise Financial from 2010 to 2016.  Before that he served in a number of finance, risk management and investment roles at Ameriprise and American Express Financial Advisors. 

            He started his career at IDS Financial Services after earning degrees from the University of North Dakota and the University of Minnesota.

            • Jeff Lorenzen

              Jeffrey D. Lorenzen, CFA

              Executive Vice President & Chief Risk Officer

              Jeffrey D. Lorenzen, CFA, is Executive Vice President and Chief Risk Officer of American Equity Investment Life Holding Company and American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company.

              Prior to joining American Equity as Senior Vice President and Chief Investment Officer in February 2009, he was the President and Chief Investment Officer of WB Capital Management Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of West Bancorporation, Inc. He also served on the board of directors for WB Capital Management, Inc., and was a member of the management committee of West Bancorporation (Nasdaq; WTBA). Prior to 2006, Mr. Lorenzen was President and Chief Investment Officer of Investors Management Group, where he spent 14 years in a variety of investment leadership positions. He started his career at Statesman as a high-yield credit analyst in 1989.

              Mr. Lorenzen received his B.B.A. in finance from the University of Iowa and and M.B.A. from Drake University. He earned his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 1993. Mr. Lorenzen has more than 25 years of experience in the investment and life insurance industries.

              • Phyllis Zanghi

                Phyllis Zanghi

                Executive Vice President & Chief Legal Officer

                Phyllis Zanghi is Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer.  Ms. Zanghi joined American Equity in 2020 as General Counsel - U.S. Life Companies.  She has over 20 years of legal experience in negotiating financial transactions, executive compensation, employee benefits, insurance products, company tax strategy, risk management, and ERISA compliance.

                Prior to joining the Life Company, Ms. Zanghi served as Head of Tax and Associate General Counsel at Brighthouse Financial from 2017-2020.  Prior to that, she held various roles, most recently as Senior Vice President, during her 19-year tenure with MetLife.

                Ms. Zanghi completed her undergraduate studies at Rutgers University - New Brunswick and received her Juris Doctorate (JD) from St. John's University School of Law.  She earned her Master of Law in Taxation (LLM) from the New York University School of Law.

                • Scott A. Samuelson

                  Scott A. Samuelson

                  Senior Vice President – Accounting & Controller, American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company

                  Scott A. Samuelson has served as Senior Vice President – Accounting and Controller of American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company since 2017 and Vice President – Accounting and Controller from 2012 until 2017.  Prior to that, he served as Assistant Vice President - Assistant Controller of the Company since 2010.

                  Before joining American Equity in 2010, he was a senior manager with Ernst & Young LLP, where he was employed from 1995 until 2010 serving audit clients in the insurance and financial services industries.  

                  Mr. Samuelson graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and is a certified public accountant and member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Iowa Society of Certified Public Accountants.  Scott has over 20 years of experience in the life insurance industry.