Finnegan, John 1949–
President, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board, Chubb Corporation
Education: Princeton University, BA; Fordham University, LLD; Rutgers University, MBA.
Family: Married Kathleen (maiden name unknown); children: two.
Career: General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC), 1976–1992, various positions in tax department; 1992–1995, executive vice president and chief financial officer; General Motors (GM), 1995–1997, vice president and treasurer; GMAC, 1997–1999, president; 1999–2002, chairman and president; GM, 1999–2002, executive vice president; Chubb Corporation, 2002–, president and chief executive officer; 2004–, chairman of the board.
Address: Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, 15 Mountain View Road, Warren, New Jersey 07061; http://www.chubb.com/indexPC.html.
■ After an impressive career at General Motors (GM) and the General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC), John Finnegan took over as president and CEO of Chubb Corporation, an insurance company. Although he was relatively inexperienced in the insurance arena, Chubb thought that his proven managerial and executive styles, along with his fresh perspectives, were just what Chubb needed to get the ailing company back on its feet.
RISE THROUGH THE RANKS
Finnegan was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1949. He received a BA degree in political science from Princeton University, a law degree from Fordham University, and an MBA from Rutgers University. After finishing school, Finnegan joined the tax department of GMAC in 1976. He held several positions over the years in the company's treasury department, including positions in international banking, foreign exchange, and benefits funding. Then, in 1992, Finnegan became executive vice president and chief financial officer of GMAC. He rose to the positions of vice president and treasurer of GM in 1995. Finnegan moved back to GMAC to take the position of president in 1997. He became both executive vice president of GM and chairman and president of GMAC in 1999, positions he held until 2002.
On December 1, 2002, Finnegan was offered and accepted the position of president and chief executive officer of the Chubb Corporation. He took over from Dean O'Hare, who earlier that year had announced his plans to retire by the end of 2002. "I couldn't be more pleased with my successor," Mr. O'Hare said in a statement to the National Underwriter Property & Casualty-Risk & Benefits Management magazine (November 18, 2002). "His values, style and personality are an excellent fit with Chubb, and he is an outstanding financial services executive, people manager and strategic thinker. I am confident he is the right person to lead Chubb into the future." Finnegan also became a member of the board, although for the first time in Chubb's history the president was not made the chairman of the board. This came about because Finnegan, at the time, had no previous experience in the insurance business.
MEETING THE CHALLENGES AT CHUBB
Founded in 1882, Chubb Corporation was an insurance company known for financial honesty, resolving claims with justice and speediness, providing superior service and products to customers, and sustaining a progressive workplace for employees. The company was also well regarded for its comprehensive homeowners insurance, successful primarily in the more elite markets. Chubb offered property and casualty insurance to companies mainly in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Latin America, and parts of Asia. Finnegan took over at a time when Chubb was under strain from its dealings with asbestos claims. People whose health had been threatened by the use of asbestos were suing many businesses, and insurance companies had to set aside more and more money in anticipation of the litigations. Chubb alone was forced to double its reserves to guard against more asbestos payouts, the amount coming to near $1 billion.
Finnegan worked with the company in 2003 to raise more money and build a reserve for claims. Because of all his hard work in 2003, Chubb Corporation received a "highly commended" designation by the Reactions Reinsurance Awards for 2003. In January 2004 Finnegan, who had shown a good head for the insurance business, was elected chairman of the board. He remained as president and CEO. In June of the same year Finnegan was asked to join the board of directors of Merrill Lynch and was appointed to the Management Development and Compensation Committee. Merrill Lynch's chairman and CEO Stan O'Neal voiced his support (June 1, 2004), saying of Finnegan that "he has extraordinary experience as a financial executive and business leader at General Motors and in his present position as chief executive of Chubb Corporation…. We have every confidence that John will make an immediate contribution to the governance and business affairs of Merrill Lynch."
See also entries on Chubb Corporation and General Motors Corporation in International Directory of Company Histories.
sources for further information
"Briefly: Pension Funds Take On Safeway," Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), March 26, 2004.
Chaffin, Joshua, "Chubb Names Outsider for Top Job," Financial Times, November 4, 2002.
"Chubb Announces Succession," National Underwriter Property & Casualty-Risk & Benefits Management, November 11, 2002, p. 8.
"Finnegan Is Chubb CEO," Insurance & Technology, January 2003, p. 48.
Greenwald, Judy, "Chubb Selects Outsider as Chief," Business Insurance, November 11, 2002, p. 1.
"Hits and Has-Beens," US Banker, December 2002, p. 12.
Kelleher, Ellen, "Chubb Seeks Dollars 525m from Capital Markets," Financial Times, November 26, 2002, p. 30.
Marcial, Gene G., "Chubb: Set to Bounce," BusinessWeek Online, January 27, 2003, http://netscape.businessweek.com:80/magazine/content/03_04/b3817144.htm?scriptFramed.
"Merrill Lynch Elects John Finnegan to Board of Directors," June 1, 2004, http://www.ir.ml.com/news/20040601-136292.cfm.
Ruquet, Mark E., "Chubb Names New Head," National Underwriter Property & Casualty-Risk & Benefits Management, November 18, 2002, p. 22.
—Catherine Victoria Donaldson