Strange happenings at the top

I'm always intrigued, as a lot of professionals and ordinary citizens are, when we see the top dogs at major companies summarily dismissed, ousted by boards and in some of the extreme cases, hauled in front of courts for their alleged misdeeds.

As i live and breathe in the world of structured settlement annuities and settlement planning, i'm always plugged into the going on's at the various life insurance, property casualty and investment brokerage firms that either compete with me, or provide financial products to fund the settlement plans of my clients.

So, as part of this forum we will be starting to provide links, stories and commentary on the events impacting our business. Obviously, a guy like me has to tread lightly as the risk of ticking off the very people who provide my products is not the smartest move, but if these blogs and commentary are going to be worth reading we all want to get past the press release, PC talk, we get and instead have honest discussions of what we hear, see or know to be true.

So, on to the news.

Today's Boston Globe reports further on the Attorney Generals investigation of the termination of Bob O'Connell.
This one has some interesting angles, and some of it is related to alleged misdeeds that crossed the ethical lines set by the Mass Mutual company policy. On those I can have zero comment as i'm neither an employee or privy to the details although if you are go ahead and post some commentary.

No what I can comment on is how this former AIG executive brought his "Tort Reform" crusade, which is and was so much a part of the AIG culture, to a company like Mass Mutual, which has never had a dog in that fight, i.e. they dont sell property casualty coverage, and in fact have launched some fantastic initiatives that were very positive for injury victims, such as their Special Needs unit and the Settlement Solutions division that works on an open basis to provide expertise to both plaintiff and defense brokers around the country.

Mr. O'Connell may or may not be guilty of the things which have been alleged in the various news reports, but he was clearly guilty of pushing the tort reform agenda heavily while the head of a company that had no business purpose to be using the companies name or prestige to further the dubious agenda of tort reform. For that reason alone I personally am glad to see him gone, and most likely he will land back at a company where the culture better suits his beliefs and management style.

On to the AIG culture of tort reform kool aide drinkers.

One advantage to being my age is I remember how things were and who the players were. I can't be fooled by spin 15 years after the fact. Bottom line is Hank Greenberg and the cadre of executives at AIG were and are the driving force behind tort reform. They set the agenda, wrote the political PAC checks, funded the think tank reports, etc. As the process took hold and spread, the Republican party bought the lie that giving up our freedom and access to the courts, or accepting liability caps to protect insurance company profits, has spread through our culture.

So, am I sorry to see AIG being drawn and quartered by state and fed officials, not in the least. However, like a wounded animal, I see them as more dangerous now then before, as they will not let go of the agenda and will want retribution against the people, ( largely democratic Attorney Generals) who brought them to this point. I think the next election cycle will be even more brutal, with the battle for state AG positions to be heavily contested as they have now emerged as a new lever in holding companies or errant executives accountable.

Posted on June 15, 2005 .