Incoming OneAmerica Chief Has Big Goals For Growth
|By O'Malley, Chris|
Davison needs to make sure the footprint of people peddling its policies and retirement plans grows. He needs to see that computer systems are updated to make it easier for agents and customers.
And the company's 1,500 employees need to keep up with OneAmerica's increasing scale.
"We've got to develop the people we've got because we're much larger now. We need to rise to the challenge of working in a more complex, bigger environment," said Davison, 49, president of OneAmerica.
In fact, OneAmerica's digestion challenges are only likely to grow.
"By 2016, we want to be a
Yet, "we've got to stay true to what made us great. That's staying true to our values. We're a mutual insurance company so we're owned by our policyholders so we're mission first, not money first."
Rough translation: This isn't some publicly traded company with a belly for big risk. Recall the former Conseco Inc., the
OneAmerica, the parent of
By the end of 2012, retirement services generated 71 percent of premiums, followed by individual at 25 percent and employee benefits a smaller 4 percent.
"McCready & Keen has just put booster rockets on our growth in our retirement plan business," Davison said.
He becomes CEO on
Another key acquisition he points to was the purchase of
But OneAmerica's smallest division, employee benefits, appears to be the problem child. It sells traditional and voluntary group life and disability insurance, mostly to small and medium-size employer groups. It reported an operating loss in 2012 "due to higher mortality and morbidity, and its top-line revenue growth had contracted,"
Best said OneAmerica has been making changes in this line to become more competitive in the way it distributes theproducts, although uncertainty involving health care reforms and health exchanges keeps things unsettled.
Davison said the unit made money in 2013. "We got that turned around. That's our smallest business by a pretty insignificant amount."
Still, at least as far as the company ranks among the 15 largest U.S. mutual companies, "during Dayton's tenure we've been the fastest growing."
Davison said the company will have finished 2013 with another "strong year" for profit. He also said sales hit a record
Much of the sales growth has been driven by employer-sponsored retirement-plan offerings, which generated
Sales in the retirement business grew 10 percent last year.
Part of that growth has required technology upgrades and process improvements to make it easier for field representatives and consumers. Davison expects OneAmerica to add a net 40 to 50 jobs this year. OneAmerica employs about 1,500 people, with 1,300 of those in central
Some of the growth is likely to come through additional acquisitions, including on the retirement-plan side.
One reason OneAmerica will be able to make acquisitions is that it weathered the financial crisis in a lot better shape than many competitors, particularly in its investment portfolio.
In 2005, the company had the good sense or luck or both to "de-risk" its investment portfolio. So at the depth of the financial downturn, "I think our total loss was about
"What that enabled us to do was to actually become very aggressive at that time. We didn't have any bullet holes, so we were able to invest in assets that were on sale, so that was very helpful to our policyholders."
He credits people like John Mason, the company's chief investment officer. "He's only our fourth one since
Davison joined OneAmerica in 2000, after it acquired a reinsurance line of disability insurer
"I came with the furniture - fully depreciated," Davison said.
<p> He joined
He later earned an MBA - probably a smart move given
Davison sits on a number a boards, including those of
Davison apparently was quick to make an impression on the godfathers of local business.
Davison "is a good listener. He makes decisions without being like
What little spare time Davison has these days is usually spent at the swimming pool.
"I'd rather go for a swim than play golf," Davison said. "I work in the insurance business. How crazy are you going to get?"
OneAmerica's other companies include
Title: OneAmerica president. Also becomes CEO on
Career highlights: Started at OneAmerica in 2000. Chief financial officer, 2004-2011. Executive vice president until named president last August. Started career with insurer
Community: Serves on boards of
Career highlight: "Probably the highlight for us was how our team performed during the financial crisis. That was a pretty scary time if you were involved in managing a financial institution and we had some folks on our team that had made some very good moves starting in 2005 to de-risk our investment portfolio."
Sources: OneAmerica, IBJ research
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