December 1 1998 by Sarah Phillips Pellet
With the stunning merger announcement of Travelers Insurance and Citibank and with financial services’ marketing opportunities opening up overseas, today’s insurance market is clearly in a period of revolution. And Dimon McFerson, CEO of Columbus, OH-based Nationwide Insurance
“The consolidation phase is going to hit the insurance industry in time-perhaps as aggressively as is currently being experienced in banking,” he predicts. When it does, McFerson, who recently shook up the staid insurance industry with a hostile $1.5 billion takeover bid for fellow insurer Allied Group., wants Nationwide to be ready.
Literally a grassroots effort, Nationwide was founded by a group of farmers, who formed the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation in 1925 with 20 part-time volunteer agents selling only auto insurance. Today, the company has $93 billion in assets and sells auto, homeowners, life, health, and commercial insurance, as well as annuities, mutual funds, and deferred compensation programs. And a name change, Nationwide Insurance Enterprise, communicates the broadened offerings.
Nationwide Life, the 13th-largest life insurer, has the bulk of the
“McFerson has done a great job transitioning
Capturing market share through targeted acquisitions is another piece of McFerson’s expansion plan. A few years ago, he constructed a mergers & acquisitions group to demonstrate to the
His recent bid for Allied, which has a reputation for tapping alternate sales channels such as direct mail and independent agents, suggests a push toward opening up new distribution channels. “We are moving to more options and multiple distribution,” asserts McFerson, who also plans to open up direct marketing opportunities via the Internet.
The international front may be next, he says, reporting plans to “go in where we’re strong, with financial services, multiple distribution channels, partnering and networking with some organizations that we have some affinity with.”
In the meantime, McFerson is turning his change-maker skills on downtown