SVP, Tax/ ERISA Unit Head - Legal Affairs

  • Company: MetLife
  • Location: New York, New York
  • Posted: February 11, 2017
  • Reference ID: 42561-en_US


Reporting directly to the Chief Counsel for MetLife’s General Corporate Legal Affairs, the SVP, Tax/ ERISA, will have a senior leadership role overseeing all tax and ERISA legal analysis, business and functional counsel, and related governance for the global company.  This includes, but is not limited to, legal advice on all internal employee benefit plans, HR payroll, the international assignment office and the lines of business with regard to product tax and ERISA compliance.  The successful candidate will demonstrate high organizational intelligence and have a track record of partnering effectively at the seniormost levels of complex, matrixed global organizations. He or she will be a thought leader in the field, able to “look around corners” to identify emerging trends in a constantly evolving legal, regulatory, and industry environment and provide proactive strategic advice to senior business and functional leadership. 


As a key member of the Law Department executive team, the SVP, Tax/ ERISA, will have management responsibility for a team of 14 seasoned attorneys.  He or she is expected to advance enterprise and department talent strategy and development goals through the demonstration of strong leadership competencies as well as business and technical acumen.  The successful candidate will be committed to empowering team members to drive engagement and high performance, spending approximately 50% of the time leading, developing, and inspiring a robust talent pipeline.  For the right candidate, this role presents the opportunity to set a department tone of strategic legal collaboration that embraces and finds opportunity in transformation and innovation.



Provide strategic and tactical thought leadership by setting Tax/ ERISA goals and priorities, including, but not limited to, counsel to or on:

  • Employee Benefits on deferred compensation, deductibility of executive compensation, golden parachute arrangements, application of ACA requirements to MetLife plans, and 401(k) rules in administration
  • Human Resources on the interpretation and administration of a large defined benefit pension plan; advise on the use and purchase of MetLife products to provide benefits under MetLife’s own benefit plans
  • ERISA subject matter experts on application of the DOL fiduciary rule to MetLife products as well as strategic direction for handling EBSA audits of MetLife and its customers
  • Corporate Tax and the Corporate Secretary’s Office regarding imputed income to executives, tax imputation, and deductibility
  • MetLife Pension Investment Unit on their fiduciary duties in investing approx. $17 billion in plan assets
  • Business executives in Group Benefits, Retirement & Income Solutions, and Global Employee Benefits on product and distribution issues as well as strategic opportunities; guidance in situations where the level of risk requires escalation
  • Investments on ERISA implications for Qualified Plan asset management


Ensure that the Tax/ ERISA team handles core product tax activities in a consistent, organized manner supportive of business relationships:

  • Coordinate with other Unit Heads and Practice Group Leads across the Law Department to develop and leverage talent support all of the Law Department’s business partners
  • Manage the team to ensure timely, high quality, creative resolution of business and functional partners’ legal work; establish priorities, adhere to deadlines, and drive accountability
  • Manage resource planning and workflow
  • Oversee outside counsel


Provide senior departmental leadership and management engagement:

  • Motivate, develop and lead a team of attorneys, including formal and informal performance management and associate career development
  • In partnership with the General Corporate Chief Counsel and other leaders, participate in setting and achieving departmental objectives and initiatives, developing talent, and managing resources
  • Provide thought leadership on General Corporate and Legal Affairs strategy priorities, especially talent strategy, customer-centric service delivery, and efficient operation
  • Contribute to a robust and collaborative community of practice through leadership on a newly-formed Global Tax Council
  • Inspire the trust and respect of the team and business partners at all levels, motivating them to achieve enterprise and department goals


Business Knowledge/Technical Skills:  

  • 15+ years of relevant senior level experience, ideally including at least 10 years in house in a leadership role
  • Subject matter expertise in cross-enterprise tax/ ERISA matters and ability to evaluate risk to make appropriate decisions and recommendations; excellent judgment
  • Demonstrated success building and leading a legal tax team that operates as a strategic business partner and value creator through proactive tax/ ERISA strategies
  • Proven record of leading, managing, developing, and celebrating high-performing talent while driving successful results; ability to flex management style when appropriate
  • Demonstrated strategic planning, analytical, problem-solving and organizational skills
  • Excellent communication, presentation, and interpersonal skills, with a track record of building relationships and effective partnerships across diverse constituencies internally and externally
  • Able to work independently and collaboratively
  • Agile in the face of shifting internal and external priorities combined with persistence in achieving goals
  • JD and NY state bar admission required; L.L.M. in Taxation strongly preferred


  • Thinks Strategically – Sets direction aligned to the company’s strategy, applying external and global perspective to meet local and global needs.
  • Motivates People – Gains people commitment to achieve business objectives through clear communication of the company’s vision and flexing leadership styles to inspire high performance.
  • Creates Partnerships – Authentically builds trusted relationships and collaborates across global, diverse and multi-functional teams to successfully drive business objectives.
  • Seizes Opportunity – Seeks new opportunities and ways to create balanced business growth while improving operational capabilities.
  • Grows Talent – Inclusively and pro-actively develops talent, empowers individuals and manages diverse teams to drive engagement and performance.
  • Models our Values – Creates a culture that promotes the company’s values and standards through role modeling, accountability and ownership of decisions.
  • Focuses on Customers – Promotes customer centricity and ensures focus on creating great customer experiences to achieve competitive advantage.
  • Drives Results – Sets aggressive goals and is accountable for continuously driving improved performance, leading change and ensuring high standards.



  • Reports to:                   Chief Counsel – General Corporate
  • Direct reports/team:      8 directs, total team of 14
  • Peers in Legal Affairs:  Corporate Secretary; Unit Heads for Global IP/ Technology, Global Corporate Services, Public Company Affairs, Global Legal Regulatory Affairs, and Corporate Law/ M&A
  • Key Stakeholders:        Head of Executive Compensation & Employee Benefits, Head of Corporate Tax, Investments, Business Heads, Americas Region Head, Compliance 


MetLife, through our subsidiaries and affiliates, is one of the largest life insurance companies in the world. Founded in 1868, we are a global provider of life insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management. Our employees serve approximately 100 million customers, individuals and businesses, including over 90 of the FORTUNE 100®. 


We are ranked #40 on the Fortune 500 list and #48 on the Forbes Global 500 list. We have operations in nearly 50 countries, and hold leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. We are also one of the largest institutional investors in the U.S. with over $500 billion in our general account portfolio as of December 31, 2015.  In 2015, FORTUNE Magazine’s World’s Most Admired Company survey named us #1 in the Life and Health Insurance industry. In 2016, we were named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) for the first time.


While we have tremendous respect for the past, we are a company firmly focused on the future. To adapt to a changing world, we are undergoing one of the most dramatic transformations in our history to reinvent how we do business so we can thrive in any environment. We are moving away from a traditional product-development model to one driven by customer insights. We are challenging historical norms by humanizing our industry and designing every customer experience to reflect the modern company we’re becoming. Our goal in everything we do is to offer customers truly differentiated value propositions that allow us to establish clear competitive advantages. We pride ourselves on being a trusted partner to our customers as they navigate life’s twists and turns.  At the center of our business strategy is a commitment to One MetLife – collaborating, sharing best practices, and recruiting, developing and retaining the best talent in the industry. We live by our values:  Put Customers First, Be the Best, Make Things Easier, and Succeed Together. They guide how we operate every day.      


The Legal Affairs line of business is comprised of the Law Department, Corporate Ethics and Compliance and Legal Affairs Operations, and provides legal services and compliance oversight to the Company, globally. Within the Law Department, the General Corporate section handles all types of corporate legal matters for MetLife, providing legal support for mergers and acquisitions, securities, securities offerings and related disclosures and filings, public company matters, financing of MetLife’s operations and capital raising activities global GIC program, insurance regulation, tax/ERISA matters relating to both MetLife’s products and its internal employee benefits programs. The General Corporate section effectively performs these services through seven practice areas, or units: (1) Corporate Secretary’s Office; (2) Public Company / M&A; (3) Corporate Law; (4) Global Corporate Services; (5) Global IP / Technology & Regulatory; (6) Global Legal / Regulatory Coordination; and (7) Tax/ERISA.


In Legal Affairs, we strive to attract, develop and retain diverse talent with the potential to be future leaders of our department and of MetLife as a whole. We seek legal and compliance professionals who demonstrate high intellectual capacity to understand complex matters facing our company, combined with strong leadership competencies to motivate and inspire higher performance by all our professionals. We take an active role in developing the skills of our talent and guiding their professional growth. By promoting skill development and career advancement for our professionals we are better positioned to serve our internal business partners and to help achieve MetLife’s vision of becoming a world-class leader in the insurance, retirement savings and employee benefits industries. 





MetLife is a proud equal opportunity/affirmative action employer committed to attracting, retaining, and maximizing the performance of a diverse and inclusive workforce. It is MetLife's policy to ensure equal employment opportunity without discrimination or harassment based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, national origin, marital or domestic/civil partnership status, genetic information, citizenship status, uniformed service member or veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

MetLife maintains a drug-free workplace.

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