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Zurich Financial Services Group CEO Says Banking and Insurance Don't Mix

The largest foreign-based insurer in the United States said it plans to exit the banking industry to focus more on underwriting profitable property/casualty business. A.M....
April 16, 2003

The largest foreign-based insurer in the United States said it plans to exit the banking industry to focus more on underwriting profitable property/casualty business. A.M. Best reports that Zurich Financial Services Group Chief Executive Officer James J. Schiro said during a media conference at the RIMS Annual Conference in Chicago, "We will be an insurance company. We will exit the banking businesses, by in large. I'll do that in an orderly way in an effort to maximize shareholder value. This is not a fire sale."

Schiro said many insurers, like Zurich Financial, lost their focus when they entered banking. "We thought, particularly with technology and e-commerce, you can control people and distribution -- you can pretty much cram it through the pipeline," Schiro said. "I've come to believe more and more that people do want interaction, they do want choice, especially in times of crisis. They don't want to talk to a machine when they see their money burning up.

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