10 Things You Didn’t Know about Principal Financial CEO Daniel Houston

Daniel Houston is the CEO, the President, and the Chairman of the Board for the Principal Financial Group. Since said corporation is involved in insurance, investment management, and a number of other fields, Houston is someone worth keeping an eye on for those who are interested in the world of finance. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about Daniel Houston:

1. Went to Iowa State University

For his education, Houston went to Iowa State University, which is the shortened name for Iowa State University of Science and Technology. Said school was founded in 1858 as the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm, though it wasn’t ready to start accepting students until 1868. Since one of the school’s founding principles was that higher education should be accessible to all people, its first graduating class had 24 men and 2 women. Something that was very notable in those times.

2. Joined Principal Upon Graduation

Houston is an excellent example of an executive who has risen up through the ranks. After all, he joined Principal in 1984, which was the same year in which he graduated from Iowa State University.

3. Became a Senior Vice President in 2000

By 2000, Houston had risen to the position of Senior Vice President. Unfortunately, this is one of those titles that can be difficult to interpret because there is so much variation from corporation to corporation. Still, it isn’t uncommon for Senior Vice Presidents to oversee entire business units, meaning that their position can come with a lot of responsibilities.

4. Became an Executive Vice President in 2006

Later in 2006, Houston managed to become an Executive Vice President. Once again, this is one of those titles that can see a fair amount of variation from place to place. However, Executive Vice Presidents tend to be a pretty high-ranking position that come with considerable power over a wide swathe of a business’s operations.

5. Became President of Retirement and Income Solutions in 2008

It can be said that Houston’s time as the Senior Vice President prepared the way for him to become the President of Retirement and Income Solutions in 2008. For context, Retirement and Income Solutions is one of the four segments that make up Principal, meaning that this was a very high-ranking position in the overall hierarchy of the corporation.

6. Became President and COO in 2014

Eventually, Houston became both the President and the COO in 2014. It isn’t uncommon for the same person to hold both positions at the same time, not least because of those positions often sit just one step below the CEO on corporate hierarchies.

7. Both CEO and Chairman

Houston is an excellent example of CEOs who serve as Chairmen of the Board as well. Essentially, a CEO is someone who is responsible for running the corporation on a day-to-day basis. Meanwhile, a Chairman of the Board is the leader of the directors who have been voted in for the purpose of making sure that the rights of the stakeholders are being upheld. As such, both of the two positions sit at the top but do very different things.

8. Member of the Business Roundtable

Besides running Principlal, Houston is involved with a number of other organizations in a wide range of ways. For example, he is one of the CEOs who make up the Business Roundtable, which exists for the purpose of ensuring more business-friendly conditions by influencing public policy.

9. Has Expressed Optimism about US-Chinese Relationship

In spite of recent events, Houston has expressed optimism about the US-Chinese relationship, which is based on his opinion that the two countries are too reliant on one another for their continuing economic well-being. In this, he could be influenced by Principal’s success in the Chinese asset management market, which is particularly notable because said market is very influenced by Chinese policies and regulations.

10. Recognizes that a Positive Relationship Won’t Be Instantaneous

With that said, Houston isn’t optimistic enough to think that a positive relationship can spring up all of a sudden. Instead, he believes that it is necessary to form long-standing relationships with long-standing understandings that can help cultivate such a relationship.


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