A large West Coast life insurer is planning for changes in its executive suite.

Pacific Life Insurance Company, Newport Beach, Calif., says James Morris, 46, will succeed Thomas Sutton, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, as CEO in April 2007.

Sutton will continue to be the chairman of the company, Pacific Life says.

Sutton started at Pacific Life as an actuarial trainee in 1963, and he has been the company’s chairman and CEO since January 1990.

While Sutton has been CEO, Pacific Life assets have grown to $95 billion, from $9 billion, and the endowment at the Pacific Life Foundation, an affiliated charity, has grown to $62 million, from $8 million, the company says.

Sutton was chairman of the Health Insurance Association of America, Washington, during the 1994-1995 term, and he was chairman of the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, during the 1996-1997 term.

Morris, Pacific Life’s chief operating officer, began working at the company as an assistant actuary in 1982.

Morris was executive vice president of the life division from 2002 to 2005. In 2005, he became Pacific Life’s chief insurance officer, and earlier this year he assumed the COO title.