Who is Christopher Swift?
Will he be the CEO that Hartford Financial Services Group needs as it continues its revamp, focusing more heavily on its P/C group and mutual funds divisions in the months and years ahead?
Those two questions will be on the minds of investors and observers now that he has officially replaced Liam McGee as CEO. McGee took over The Hartford in 2009, helped it repay a $3.4 billion government bailout a year later, and led the company in the years since through a still-ongoing revamp. (McGee, who had a brain tumor removed in January 2013, stepped down due to health issues.)
So far, investors have reacted neutrally to the news. The Hartford’s stock closed at $36.16 on June 9, down 7 cents from the previous day’s trading. The price remains at the high end of a 52-week range that has plunged as low as $28.04, suggesting investors viewed the CEO change as a move of stability.
The Connecticut insurance giant released a fairly solid recap of Swift’s prior experience.
He joined The Hartford in March 2010, after holding various leadership and financial positions at American International Group, another insurance conglomerate that has had to downsize after the 2008 financial crisis. While there, he developed experience primarily on the life insurance side of things, including serving as vice chairman of American Life Insurance Company (ALICO) at AIG.
He began his career in public accounting at KPMG, focusing on financial services, and eventually lead the firm’s Global Insurance Industry Practice. Also, Swift has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Marquette University in Wisconsin, and is a certified CPA, The Hartford said.
Among his outside activities: Swift serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board at the Villanova School of Business and is a member of the International Insurance Society. As well Swift is on the board of Connecticut Innovations, The Hartford said, a group that offers financing and support for growing, innovative companies.
Swift, in his statement announcing the new CEO promotion, said that McGee offered him guidance, and noted he’d keep working with him in his role as chairman, which he will keep until the next shareholders meeting. Importantly, Swift also pledged to stay the course, continuing a strategy McGee has led that has included streamlining and focusing more heavily on property/casualty, group benefits and mutual funds.
In other words, The Hartford is trying very hard to communicate a message of seamless transitions and staying the course.