After just about a year-and-a-half in the role of chief executive officer, Bill Roberts is retiring at GEICO’s president and CEO, to be succeeded by Todd Combs, one of Berkshire Hathaway’s investment managers.
Combs, identified by Berkshire Chair Warren Buffett as one of the executives who will likely to oversee all of his Berkshire Hathaway’s investments when Buffett is out of the picture, will assume the role of GEICO CEO on Jan. 1, 2020. Combs will also continue to manage $14 billion of investments for Berkshire Hathaway, the giant conglomerate said in a statement.
Roberts, who turned 70 in November, began his career with GEICO in 1984 as an officer in the marketing department. He quietly took over as CEO in June 2018 after then-CEO Tony Nicely retired from the post without fanfare, while remaining chairman. GEICO, which is wholly owned by Berkshire, did not publicly announce the moves.
Yesterday, Nicely noted the outstanding job that Roberts has done in leading and growing GEICO throughout his career. “Bill told Ajit Jain, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, and I in early November he was about to turn 70 and finishing up his 35th year with GEICO, and that he intended to retire at the end of 2020,” said Nicely, who now serves as GEICO’s executive chairman. “Our results throughout his career have been excellent and our culture is strong. He has put in place a strong plan for the coming year,” Nicely added in a media statement.
- Roberts joined GEICO in 1984 and served as vice president of marketing from 1985 to 1991. He then served as assistant vice president for underwriting in GEICO’s regional office in Macon, Ga. He was elected group vice president in 1994 and senior vice president in 1997.
He became executive vice president of GEICO in 2000 with responsibility for marketing and advertising, information systems, telecommunications and the Internet business unit, staff development, military marketing, and GFR sales. He also served as chairman of the GEICO Insurance Agency.
While he will retire from the CEO role on Jan. 1, Roberts will still have a presence at GEICO, assuming the role of vice chairman.
As for Combs, before joining Berkshire Hathaway in 2010, he was CEO and managing member of an investment firm he helped found, Castle Point Capital Management, an investment partnership he founded in 2005 to manage capital for endowments, family foundations and institutions.
Prior to starting Castle Point, Combs held positions with Copper Arch Capital, Progressive Insurance and in government with the Florida Banking, Securities and Finance Division.
More recently, he played a role in the launch of Haven, the joint health insurance project of Berkshire, JPMorgan and Amazon.
“I am looking forward to taking on the responsibilities of CEO at GEICO,” said Combs. “They have a strong senior management team, a great organization of 40,000 employees, a great brand, and are a very successful insurance company.”