Liberty Mutual has hired CNA’s president and COO for specialty Kevin Smith as president of its Global Risk Solutions (GRS) unit in North America, replacing Tracy Ryan, who stepped down from the role in June, The Insurer can reveal.

Kevin Smith Liberty CNA

According to sources, Liberty made a limited internal announcement of the appointment last week and is expected to make a public announcement of the hire as soon as Monday morning.

Smith spent the last five years with CNA, where he had oversight of professional and management liability, financial institutions and healthcare business lines, among others, including surety, warranty and service contract business.

He previously spent roughly 20 years at Chubb, where he held roles that included North American field strategic development officer, Chicago regional branch manager and Minneapolis branch manager.

Before that Smith spent a few years working at Sedgwick, after starting his career as a financial institutions underwriter at Chubb.

Liberty’s president for GRS, Neeti Bhalla Johnson, who held the North America president role on an interim basis after Ryan stepped down, told staff internally that Smith’s hire was made after a “rigorous and thorough candidate review process”.

“This hire is doubly exciting as we now have a complete GRS leadership team!” Bhalla Johnson wrote to staffers.

GRS-memo

Bhalla Johnson said Smith would be accountable for the overall operating and financial performance of GRS’s North America segment, including its commercial and specialty businesses in the US, Canada and Bermuda, which has $8bn in gross written premiums, she said.

“Kevin will set the North America business strategy in support of our GRS shared objectives,” Bhalla Johnson said. “He will develop and oversee the North America operating model to support the end-to-end delivery of the suite of products and holistic solutions that leverage the full global capabilities of GRS and deliver consistent and excellent service to clients and brokers.”

Bhalla Johnson also said that Smith would be charged with championing the region’s transformation to build a commercial and specialty (re)insurer “for the future”.

“To that end, he will help accelerate our shift to a high-performance culture that connects people across silos and fosters trust, accountability, empowerment and inclusion,” the former Goldman Sachs executive explained.

She noted that Smith brings “proven strategic leadership and cultural transformation experience”.

Bhalla Johnson added that while at CNA, Smith strengthened the specialty division’s overall underwriting performance while driving improved growth across the portfolio.

“Through his leadership, he built a collaborative, high-performing culture focused on achieving strategic objectives and outcomes,” Bhalla Johnson wrote. “Central to having achieved this is Kevin’s passion for professional development, team morale and clarity on roles and responsibilities.”

Bhalla Johnson further explained that Smith would report to her in his new role, and that his reports would include Matt Dolan (president, NA specialty and Ironshore), Steve Deane (chief claims officer, GRS NA), Tammi Dulberger (chief actuary, GRS NA), Mike Fallon (president, major accounts, NA), Brandon Fick (CUO, GRS NA), Marc Orloff (president of field ops, GRS NA), and Garth Pepper (president of Middle Market, GRS NA).

Smith’s expected start date is 31 August.

Bhalla Johnson added that the executive is looking forward to introducing himself to the organisation, and that she was “incredibly excited” to work with Smith and the rest of the GRS leadership team to “execute on our collaborative One GRS operating model to win with purpose, together!”

Smith’s hire is the latest bold move Liberty’s GRS unit has made to hire from outside the organisation to replace a number of departed executives.

On Friday The Insurer revealed that Liberty had recruited Markel’s chief risk officer and former Guy Carpenter and Aon executive Julia Chu to the firm, in a yet-to-be-determined role.

The Insurer previously broke the news that the company had hired Zurich North America’s Brandon Fick to be GRS’s new chief underwriting officer in the region.

That came after Liberty also recruited TransRe’s president of global portfolio management Elizabeth Geary to be the president of insurance solutions within GRS.

A spokesperson for Liberty has been contacted for comment.