Innovation agency Maddock Douglas, a national firm that helps leading brands develop new products, services and markets, has named Maria Umbach, CLU, vice president of financial services innovation, heading a first-of-its-kind insurance and financial services platform for innovation.

Umbach, a prominent financial services executive and well-known industry commentator and speaker, joins Chicago-based Maddock Douglas with 26 years of financial services experience, most recently as vice president and chief marketing officer for top mutual insurer, Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. Prior to this, she was vice president of life insurance marketing for Prudential. Over the course of her career, she has developed strategic marketing programs addressing roadblocks to retirement, life insurance as an asset class and women and investing, based on behavioral finance findings.

“Maria’s role is to help companies spark innovation from the inside out by capitalizing on emerging trends, consumer preferences and communications modalities that are reshaping financial services from banking and investments to insurance and financial advice,” said Raphael Louis Vit?n, President of Maddock Douglas. “She will help the financial services industry create new products and business models that are wholly aligned with the changing needs of today’s consumers.”

“Today more than ever there are huge opportunities for financial services providers to innovate and reconnect with their consumers with fresh products and services, says Umbach. “Innovation takes the right skills, attitude, and the perfect balance of insight into an unmet consumer need, idea, and communication. We believe we know the companies that will be difference makers in the next 10 years, and we will be enabling their successes.”

Umbach, who resides in Jersey City, N.J., holds an MBA from Hofstra University and is a member of the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting (AALU), the Society of Financial Services Professionals, Women in Insurance and Financial Services, and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA). To see a video with Maria’s latest thinking on innovation, click: http://vimeo.com/10045796 and check out her blog at http://community.maddockdouglas.com/profile/1821/;jsessionid=0EA2E175B3B9D83D00B7028501CDC926