The Travelers Companies Inc. today announced that Alan D. Schnitzer will succeed Jay S. Fishman as chief executive officer, effective December 1, 2015.
In a letter to employees, Fishman, 62, said that his neuromuscular disease, which he disclosed last November, has worsened and it is likely he is dealing with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS. At the beginning of the year, Fishman cut down on activities outside the company.
“At every company there comes a time for new leadership. Because of the progression of my neuromuscular condition, this time has come a little earlier than I had hoped. But given the strength of the company and with an exceptional leader in Alan more than prepared to become our CEO, there is good reason to make a change now,” Fishman said in his letter.
“Given the progression of the symptoms I have been experiencing since informing all of you of my illness, it appears likely that I am dealing with a variant of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS. While this is a progressive disease, anyone who has seen me can tell you that I am more than able to play an active role in Travelers’ future,” Fishman wrote.
Schnitzer has been appointed to the company’s board of directors.
Fishman will become executive chairman following Schnitzer’s assumption of the CEO role.
Schnitzer, 49, is chief executive officer of Travelers’ Business and International Insurance, the company’s largest business segment. Previously, he headed the company’s Financial, Professional and International Insurance segment. In addition to his business line responsibilities, Schnitzer oversees Travelers’ Field Management, Corporate Communications and Public Policy organizations.
Fishman said Schnitzer is the “ideal executive to lead Travelers into its next chapter. ” He said Schnitzer has “earned the respect of the board, our people and the agent and broker communities for his judgment, deep understanding of our business and strong leadership.”
Brian MacLean, who will remain president and chief operating officer and report to Schnitzer, will also assume direct responsibility for the Business and International Insurance segment in addition to all of his current responsibilities.
Schnitzer joined Travelers in April 2007. He serves on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investor Advisory Committee created under the Dodd-Frank Act and the Advisory Board for the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Urban Research. Schnitzer is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform. He is also a member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Business Committee. Schnitzer received his undergraduate degree from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in finance and accounting and his J.D. from Columbia Law School.
Fishman has been CEO since the April 1, 2004 merger of The St. Paul Companies, Inc. with Travelers Property Casualty Corp., and he assumed the additional role of chairman in September 2005. From October 2001 until April 2004, Fishman had been chairman, CEO, and president of The St. Paul Companies, Inc. He held several key executive posts at Citigroup Inc. from 1998 to October 2001, including chairman, CEO, and president of the Travelers insurance business. Starting in 1989, Fishman worked as an executive at Primerica Corp., which became part of Citigroup.
In his letter, Fishman thanked employees for their work and support:
“It is important to me that I let each of you know that I get way too much personal credit for the success we have experienced together. This is a very big place, and the strong sense of partnership here is just remarkable. There aren’t enough words or Chairman’s Awards for me to convey to you that I know that everything we have accomplished we have done together. The credit for our success is to be shared by everyone here. I am incredibly blessed to have been in the right place at the right time.”
This is the second time within the past year or so that a major insurer has lost its leader for health reasons. In June of last year, Hartford Financial Services promoted Christopher Swift to chief executive officer, replacing Liam McGee, who stepped down for medical reasons after having a brain tumor removed in 2012. McGee, 60, who had been CEO since 2009, died this past February.