Executive Officers

Executive Officers

  • Anant Bhalla

    Anant Bhalla

    Chief Executive Officer & President

    Anant Bhalla was appointed 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.  

    • img

      Ted M. Johnson

      Chief Financial Officer

      Ted M. Johnson was appointed CFO of American Equity Investment Life Holding Company on June 27, 2012.  Prior to being appointed CFO, he was Vice President and Controller since August 2001.

      Prior to joining American Equity, Mr. Johnson was a Senior Manager with Ernst & Young LLP, where he was employed from 1992 until August 2001, working primarily on audit clients in the insurance industry.

      Johnson received his B.A. from the University of Iowa. He is a Certified Public Accountant and has over 20 years of experience in the life insurance industry.

      • 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.

              • Tolga Uzuner

                Tolga Uzuner

                Executive Vice President & Chief Investment Officer, Asset Management

                Tolga Uzuner is Chief Investment Officer, Asset Management Business at American Equity.  He joined the organization in January 2021 and is based in New York.  He is responsible for originating and structuring alpha assets and building our High Trestle Investment Management firm, which supports the broadening of our investment management capability and focus.  Mr. Uzuner brings nearly 30 years of wide-ranging investment expertise and a distinguished track record of success to the role. 

                Before joining American Equity, he owned the firm, Austra Global, and provided an outsourced CIO function to new private equity entrants to insurance.  He also served as Managing Director of Investments at JP Morgan Chase prior to transitioning to Apollo Global Management, where he ran and built investment offices in the US, Europe and Asia.  

                Mr. Uzuner earned a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Technology from the University of Cambridge, and received his Master of Science in Finance from the London Business School and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

                • 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.