Bob MacDonald: Contrarian Business Expert

Robert W. MacDonald has had a highly visible and remarkable career in the financial services industry. He entered the field in 1965 as a "knock-on-the-door" life insurance agent for New England Mutual Life in Los Angeles, and retired in 2002 as CEO of Allianz Life of North America.

In between, MacDonald, 64, built a successful sales agency for Jefferson-Pilot, served as head of marketing support for State Mutual of America, and was chief marketing officer, chief operating officer, then president and CEO of Minneapolis-based ITT Life. As president and CEO of ITT Life Insurance Corporation, Minneapolis, he became one of the best known, most influential and controversial leaders in the life insurance industry. After seven years as chief executive of ITT Life, MacDonald struck out on his own in 1987 to form a new life insurance company, LifeUSA, also in the Twin Cities.

As chairman and CEO, MacDonald led LifeUSA as it became one of the fastest growing, best-known and most successful companies of the 1990s. Starting from scratch, by the time Allianz AG of Munich, Germany acquired LifeUSA in 1999, it had become a profitable, publicly traded company with sales exceeding $1.0 billion, assets of in excess of $6.0 billion and over 80,000 agents contracted to represent the company.

In a transaction valued at $540 million, the financial giant Allianz AG acquired LifeUSA and merged it with the larger Allianz Life of North America. MacDonald was asked to become CEO and lead the merged companies. Under his direction, Allianz Life virtually doubled in size and became a star performer in the Allianz worldwide group. At the close of 2001, Allianz Life held $23 billion of total assets, sales reached $4.7 billion and more than 125,000 agents were contracted to represent the company. Today, though retired from the day-to-day management of the company, MacDonald continues to serve as a member of the Allianz Life of North America board of directors and audit committee. In addition, he provides international strategic marketing and management consulting services to Allianz AG.

But, there is more to MacDonald’s career than titles and numbers. He is acknowledged to be one of the true visionaries, forward thinkers and product innovators in the financial services industry. He was one of the first to call for restructuring and updating the products of the life insurance industry, and for the entrance of banks into financial services. MacDonald exhibited a unique, almost contrarian management style and developed corporate cultures far from the traditional. Many in his industry were critical of his philosophy and ideas, but the results speak for themselves.

Along the way, MacDonald wrote the successful book on the life insurance industry, Control Your Future (National Underwriter Press), was a popular speaker before over 100 organizations, wrote scores of articles dealing with management and the financial services industry and was interviewed on countless television and radio shows. MacDonald and his philosophy has been profiled in scores of local and national publications, including The Wall Street Journal, USAToday, Forbes, Business Week, American Banker and Institutional Investor. MacDonald was the first person to be twice recognized as “Entrepreneur of the Year” in Minnesota.

He carries his message to national audiences through his well-trafficked blog at His unique and often controversial perspectives on entrepreneurial management, business ethics and personal success resonate with tens of thousands of regular visitors in more than 30 countries around the globe.

Mr. MacDonald holds a BSL degree from Western College of Law (Anaheim, CA) and the chartered life underwriter (CLU) designation from The American College (Bryn Mawr, PA).

Many swear by MacDonald’s unique philosophy and management style, while others simply swear. Either way, there is no question that MacDonald has had a profound impact on the industry and literally thousands of those who have come in contact with him. Clearly, few if any can match MacDonald’s career in the financial services industry.



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