Principal Names Dunbar Chief Investment Officer

Principal Financial Group Inc., the life insurer with a $71.5 billion portfolio, selected Tim Dunbar as chief investment officer, replacing Julia Lawler.

Lawler, 52, takes over responsibility for investment services, Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal said today in a statement. Dunbar, 54, will retain duties overseeing capital markets. The changes take effect in January, and both Dunbar and Lawler remain senior vice presidents.

Insurers including Lincoln National Corp. and Aflac Inc. have named new investment chiefs as interest rates near record lows weigh on profits. The companies invest customers’ cash in bonds and other assets to back future payouts on life insurance policies and annuities.

“We continue to see short-term pressures, such as continued low interest rates,” Terry Lillis, Principal’s chief financial officer, said on a Nov. 27 conference call with analysts.

Lawler will oversee Principal’s retirement and mutual fund platforms and monitor performance, according to today’s statement.

Dunbar began working at Principal in 1986 as an asset manager representative. He’s also worked in commercial real estate and equity management, and helped oversee Principal International in Monterrey, Mexico. He was appointed last year to run capital markets, corporate strategy and corporate treasury areas.

Lawler joined Principal in 1984 as a commercial real estate representative and worked as head of capital markets before becoming chief investment officer.

Principal gained less than 1 percent to $27.88 in New York today. It has advanced about 13 percent this year, compared with the 15 percent climb in the 24-company KBW Insurance Index.

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