Risk Management

CFO Guard Changes at New York Life

A deputy finance chief replaces a retiring CFO whose conservatism helped the insurance giant to weather the financial crisis.
David KatzMarch 18, 2013

New York Life Insurance Co. culminated a long-planned succession by naming John Fleurant as its CFO, effective July 1, replacing Michael Sproule, 65, who is retiring as scheduled on June 30. At that time, Fleurant will start serving as the company’s finance chief.

Fleurant, 50, currently serves as deputy CFO, a post he has occupied since October 2012, when the role was added to his other slots as senior vice president for finance and controller.

Reporting to New York Life chairman and chief executive officer Ted Mathas, Fleurant will be responsible for the following departments: the controller’s office, tax, treasury, the office of risk management and chief actuary, and corporate development. The latter function includes planning, mergers and acquisitions, and rating-agency relationships. He also has been named a member of New York Life’s Executive Management Committee, which comprises the company’s senior executive leadership and assists the CEO in setting policy for the company.

Sproule’s tenure at the mutual life insurer began when he joined the company to lead its mergers-and-acquisitions team in 1999. Mathas comments: “Mike’s value to the company has never been clearer than in the years since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008. We entered the crisis stronger than virtually all our competitors, due in large part to Mike’s diligent and consistent focus on maintaining the strength of our balance sheet and protecting the integrity of our financial reporting.”

During an interview last month at the New York City office of CFO, Sproule criticized the loose practices that led to the financial crisis. “So when it comes to risk taking, I worry about the smartest people in the room because they are capable of justifying incredible amounts of risk taking. Unfortunately, we’ve gotten away from common sense,” he said.

Mathas also credited Sproule for strong leadership in fostering insurance-industry solvency and adequate reserving, including counseling regulators and policymakers on the importance of maintaining strong capital requirements.

Before joining the insurer in 2010, Fleurant served as controller at Prudential Financial. After joining Prudential in 1995, his posts included CFO for domestic businesses. Before that, he was a senior manager at Deloitte & Touche, where he spent nine years.