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Insurance CEOs

Route to the Top, DNA of Top Performers and the Recent Shift in CEO Profiles



​Methodology

Russell Reynolds Associates profiled the background and experience of 65 Chief Executive Officers (CEO) at 38 insurance companies globally, including 38 Group CEOs and 27 Divisional CEOs.

The analysis focused on:

  • Route to the top for current Group and Divisional insurance CEOs.
  • DNA of Group CEOs at top-performing insurance companies.
  • Recent shift in Group and Divisional CEO profiles, with resultant future trends. 

 

 

Route to the Top for Current Insurance CEOs

  • „In insurance, more than in other sectors, the majority of CEOs were appointed internally.
  • International experience is important but not essential. Around six in ten CEOs have worked in multiple countries.
  • There is little gender diversity at the top, with only one female Divisional CEO in the sample and no females at the Group CEO level.

 

 

Route to the Top for Current Insurance CEOs

  • „Experience is predominantly in-sector, with almost half of the CEOs having worked exclusively in insurance.
  • With an absence of diverse sector experience, most insurance CEOs have held multiple functional roles, with an average of three.
  • A mix of roles in business development, finance and/or risk is the most common functional background of CEOs, at both the Group and Divisional levels.

 

 

DNA of CEOs at Top-Performing Insurance Companies

The analysis below compares profiles of Group CEOs of the upper-quartile insurance companies with the rest of the Group CEO sample. Upper-quartile insurers returned at least 150% total return to shareholders between April 2009 and April 2014:1

  • More than two-thirds of CEOs at the top-performing insurance companies were appointed between 2008 and 2009 during the financial crisis. The weaker-performing companies typically changed their CEOs more recently.
  • CEOs at top-performing insurers are more likely to have held roles in finance, business development, and operations and IT.
  • International experience is more common in CEOs at top-performing insurance companies.

 

1. Factiva database, May 2014
2. Statistics given in percentage points

 

Recent Shift in Insurance CEO Profiles

The analysis below compares Group CEOs and Divisional CEOs appointed in the last two years with the rest of the sample:

  • Over the last two years, there has been increased emphasis on the ability to transform the business and deliver results in a low-margin environment; understand and set strategy, taking (weak) capital positions into account; and drive innovation through the business.
  • Going forward, we are likely to see even more importance assigned to innovation, alongside attention to technology. International experience also will be at a premium.
  • Recent CEO appointments have seen a greater willingness to consider external candidates, but insurance “lifers” dominate the ranks of recently appointed CEOs.

 

 

 

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Insurance CEOs