Thomas Marra is replacing Randall Talbot as president and chief executive officer of Symetra Financial Corp. (NYSE:SYA).
Symetra, Bellevue, Wash. (NYSE:SYA), is the parent of Symetra Life Insurance Company, a life and annuity company that raised about $365 million in January by holding an initial public offering of stock.
The company reported $46 million in net income for the first quarter on $453 million in revenue, up from $5.1 million in net income on $379 million in revenue for the first quarter of 2009.
The board of Symetra decided to bring in Marra because he was available, and because board members decided Marra could “take the company to new heights,” according to Symetra Chairman Lon Smith.
“Randy has taken [the company] to a great position in the industry, and he’s really done a nice job,” Smith said today during a company teleconference.
But directors have been thinking about making a change for awhile, Smith said.
“Tom is a known quantity,” Smith said during the teleconference. “He’s a good guy.”
Talbot, who has led Symetra for 12 years and managed it through the IPO, did not leave because of any financial reasons or any personnel issues, Smith said.
Talbot says in a statement issued by Symetra that it has been an honor to lead the company.
“I look forward to working with Tom to ensure a smooth transition as he builds this great enterprise going forward,” Talbot says.
Marra, Talbot’s successor, was president and chief operating officer of Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford (NYSE:HIG), from 2007 to 2009.
Marra started at Hartford in 1980, as an actuarial student, and rose up through the ranks. He has been chairman of both the Insured Retirement Institute, Washington, and the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington.
Marra is a fellow of the Society of Actuaries, and he serves on the board of St. Bonaventure University.
Marra said during the Symetra teleconference that he sees expanding sales through the bank channel as the biggest opportunity for growth and expanding sales through the independent channel as the second biggest opportunity.
“I still think banks are going to be the leading provider of individual life insurance over the long haul,” Marra said.
Marra said he has some concerns about the risks associated with Symetra’s large block of fixed annuity business but believes Symetra’s directors and managers understand the pros and cons of being in that market.
“Right now, having a position in fixed annuities is probably our lead strategy,” Marra said.
Marra said he does not see Symetra as being a company with big problems to fix, and he said he believes the company has done a good job of keeping costs down.