Charles B. Cooper, CLU, FLMI - Resume Detail
After graduating from law school with honors, I was selected for a one-year appointment as a law clerk on the Supreme Court, after which I joined a Seattle law firm where 2/3 of my work involved banking and life insurance. To obtain more direct business involvement, I moved to the law department of Koppers Company, Inc, a large diversified industrial corporation. There I specialized in acquisitions, of which we did 16, and securities regulation, which encompassed reporting and proxy requirements as well as issues arising in connection with acquisitions.
The acquisition work, which nearly always necessitated post-closing activity to resolve control and management issues, as well as systems coordination, established the pattern I would follow in each new company, whether I was involved as the result of an acquisition, moving to a new position, or a consulting assignment. While the emphasis on the elements varied, the pattern was to apply a systems approach to eliminate unnecessary work, automate repetitive functions, and establish standards for performance and reports of results. Then act to resolve any existing business problems, establish competent management, determine product profitability and recommend any changes necessary, and (in the life companies) broaden and improve the existing field marketing methods.
Capital Holding and Commonwealth Life, 1970 - 1973
Because of my background in acquisitions and securities law at Koppers, I was hired to work with the CEO of Capital Holding to do the acquisitions of life companies, the organizational follow-up, and the corporate legal work, primarily securities regulation. Capital Holding was in its formative stages, having recently been created, so I established the procedures and practices necessary for a publicly held NYSE company. In the interval between acquisitions I worked with the CEO of the flagship company, Commonwealth, primarily on projects, which included analyzing and improving internal systems, resolving business problems, and field assignments.
Georgia International Life, 1973 - 1975
Capital Holding’s fifth acquisition, and the expectation was that the
CEO of GI would ultimately be the successor to the CEO of Capital. When
this did not work out, the problems could not be handled in my normal
acquisition follow-up and I was inserted as the COO of GI. GI had never
resolved the issues resulting from its acquisition the year before of
Piedmont Life and essentially everything was in duplicate, staffing, sales
organizations, and functions. In addition, two business units, credit
life and disability, and group major medical, were suspect. These, and
expense reduction, were given as priorities by the holding company. Investigation
revealed that the two units’ reserves were speculative and new business
was shut down.
This was the opportunity of a lifetime. Bernard Rapoport was a dynamic CEO, a great motivator of agents, but one who recognized he was not a great manager. The field force was producing several thousand applications a week, but at least half of the production was of unprofitable and poorly designed products. On the other hand, a good portion of the rest was highly profitable whole life. The top management was very weak and the company could not handle or service the production. More than 10,000 applications were stacked at various stages in the issue department. Automation was non-existent. Theft was common in a few areas. The local flea market was well stocked with American Income supplies. Simply by resolving these issues, within a year profit began to increase at the rate of 60% a year.
Field production was driven by a lead system. Mailings to union members returned 8% at best. The lead supply was the limiting factor on production. In early 1979, I modified the lead system to one based on the placement of group AD&D with unions, insuring all members without cost to the member. The new benefit was announced in a letter from the union which asked the members to return the enclosed card to receive the certificate and designate a beneficiary. The card return on this new approach proved to be about 40%, a five-fold increase. This removed the lead as the limiting factor on production. A subsequent modification of the system opened up credit unions and associations and made the potential lead supply effectively infinite. Production rose to over 5,000 applications a week. By that time the unprofitable products had been withdrawn or redesigned, leaving only profitable products.
Statutory net gain from operations, which was just a few hundred thousand dollars in 1976, rose to over $43 million by 1989. At that point American Income accomplished the first known leveraged buy out of a life insurance company. This was immediately successful as profit continued to rise. In 1994 the company was sold to Torchmark Corp. for $530 million.
American-Amicable Group, 2000 - 2002
The four companies in this group were the last to be sold by PennCorp Financial before it declared bankruptcy in early 2000. I partnered with Thoma Cressey Equity Partners, the firm with which we had done the LBO of American Income in 1989, to acquire the group. The market niche is narrow, as nearly all profitable sales are of savings plans to enlisted military personnel. An unprofitable cancer sale operation could not be made profitable given field restraints, and new production was stopped. The systems and automation steps were completed, with service improved and staff reduced from 220 to 130. More than $2 million of cost was eliminated from the EDP area alone. A new lead and marketing system, basically the system devised for American Income updated to take advantage of the Internet was developed. However it is not applicable to the military sales procedure, so only a few dozen of the agents were in a position to benefit. Most of what can be done from the cost side was completed, but the source of adequate increases of future production of profitable new business was not evident. I elected to leave active management of the companies in July 2002.
Financial Industries Group, 2003 - 2004
The board of this publicly held company was replaced after a proxy battle in 2003. I was hired as a consultant to the board in November to assist in a turnaround situation, and became the COO the following February. The staff in my area of responsibility was reduced from 192 to 127. The primary mission was to eliminate manual systems and thousands of master file policy errors left over from failed conversions ahead of the year 2000 implementation. Improved support for the field included web based information, policy status, and lead selection and delivery. A full range of intranet support for home office operations was introduced. A combined policy master file download enhanced a number of functions by making available a single DB and interface from multiple administration systems. The run rate for total company expense (not just operations) was reduced by $11 million.