Unum Group (NYSE: UNM) today announced that J. Matthew Royal has joined the company as vice president and chief auditor. He succeeds Nicholas Desiderio, who is retiring after more than 22 years with Unum.

In his new capacity, Royal will be responsible for ensuring that company controls are adequate and meet or exceed regulatory requirements. He will also oversee Unum’s special investigative unit.

Royal joins Unum from KPMG LLP, where he most recently served as a director in the firm’s Insurance Risk Advisory practice and had responsibility for assessing the effectiveness of internal audit functions and developing comprehensive risk assessments and risk-based internal audit plans. He also served as global director for one of KPMG’s largest insurance internal audit relationships.

Prior to joining KPMG in 2003, Royal was assistant vice president, International Specialty Operations, with Marsh Inc.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from University of Georgia and a master’s in business administration from New York University.

Royal will be based in Chattanooga, Tenn., and will report to Liston “Bo” Bishop, executive vice president and General Counsel, as well as to the Audit Committee of the company’s board of directors.

In other news:

Joe WestendorfGreat-West Financial appointed Joe Westendorf regional sales director for its bank markets business.

Westendorf will assist bank advisors in the sale of Great-West Financial retirement income and life insurance products to bank clients. Westendorf resides in Bradenton, Fla., and reports to Kris Davis, national sales director.

Before joining Great-West Financial, Westendorf served as a financial advisor the past year for AXA Advisors. From 2005 to 2011 he was employed at Franklin Templeton Investments in a number of responsible sales roles. His most recent position at Franklin Templeton was as vice president, external wholesaler. While in this role, he provided leadership to almost 3,150 advisors. From 1998 to 2005 he held financial advisor and branch leadership positions at Morgan Stanley.

Westendorf received his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Miami. He has a bachelor’s degree from Catawba College. Westendorf holds NASD Series 7, 9, 10, 24, 31, 63 licenses. He also holds a Florida life and variable annuity license.


Hub International Limited (Hub) acquired the assets of Premier Insurance (Premier), an Idaho–based insurance brokerage firm. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. 

As part of the transaction, Premier will become part of Hub International Mountain States. Premier’s five managing partners, Peter McDonald, Craig Casperson, Tracy Hawker, Timothy Black and Julie Armes, will join Hub, reporting to Rene LeVeaux, president, Hub International Mountain States.

Founded in 1979, Premier offers a full range of personal, commercial and employee benefits products and services.  Premier handles a diversified book of business, with specialties in the farm/dairy, crop and trucking industries. They offer an array of insurance and risk management solutions, including innovative workers’ compensation and wellness programs. 


Forethought Financial Group, Inc. (Forethought) completed its acquisition of the individual annuity new business capabilities and a broker/dealer from The Hartford on Dec. 31.

From the acquisition, Forethought’s annuity distribution platform now includes the broker/dealer channel while also facilitating the addition of a variable annuity product line.

The acquired broker/dealer, now known as Forethought Distributors, LLC, gives Forethought underwriting and distribution capability for variable products. As a result, Forethought plans to launch its first variable annuity into the marketplace during the first quarter of 2013.

The transaction includes over 100 annuity professionals in product, distribution and marketing.

Robert Arena, who previously led The Hartford’s individual annuity business, joins Forethought as president, Forethought Annuity, a division of Forethought Life Insurance Company.

The company opened new offices in Simsbury, Conn., and Berwyn, Pa., to support the operation for Indiana-based Forethought Life Insurance Company.

A Barton County judge granted a motion by the Department of Insurance to release Barton County Mutual Insurance Company from department control after shoring up its financial condition.

Barton Mutual came to the brink of insolvency after paying claims from the 2011 Joplin tornado. At the department’s request, a judge placed the company in rehabilitation in December 2011.

Barton Mutual has about 29,000 policyholders. It had premium sales of $32 million in 2011, but reported claims of $48 million related to the Joplin tornado.

Consumers or insurance agents with questions about Barton Mutual should contact the Department of Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390 or visit insurance.mo.gov.


Independent Financial Partners (IFP) launched the IFP Insurance Group, a platform to support all independent financial advisors while expanding in-house professional services to work directly with IFP advisors.

Advisors in any discipline who work with the IFP network will have the opportunity to offer better insurance services to their clients.