CNO Financial CEO Bonach to retire at year’s end

Ed Bonach, 63, the CEO at Carmel-based CNO Financial Group Inc., will retire from that position at the end of this year, the company announced Tuesday.

The insurance holding company has selected its president, Gary Bhojwani, 49, to succeed Bonach effective Jan. 1. Bhojwani will join CNO’s board of directors immediately. 

Bonach has been with CNO since 2007, when he joined the company as its chief financial officer. He was promoted to CEO in 2011.

The move follows several other high-level leadership changes CNO.

In March, the company announced it was replacing its senior vice president for marketing and communications, as well as the leaders of its Colonial Penn and Washington National subsidiaries.

Bonach, prior to joining CNO, was CFO at National Life Group. He also spent 23 years at Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America, where he held a variety of positions.

Bhojwani joined CNO in April 2016. For a year prior to that, Bhojwani was CEO of GCB LLC, an insurance and financial services consulting company that he founded. From 2012 to 2015, he was a member of the board of management at Allianz SE and chairman of Allianz of America, Allianz Life Insurance Co. and Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. From 2007 to 2012, he was president and CEO of Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America.

CNO’s subsidiaries include Bankers Life and Casualty Co., Colonial Penn Life Insurance Co. and Washington National Insurance Co. The company reported 2016 net income of $358.2 million, and as of December, it had about 3,400 full-time employees.

"It's been an incredible privilege and honor to serve this great company for over 10 years—with almost six years as its CEO—and work with the many talented leaders, associates and agents who successfully serve the needs of our customers every day," Bonach said in a written statement. "Together we've enhanced shareholder value, extended our customer reach, and delivered strong financial and operational performance. After much thought, with the company well-positioned for future success and with great confidence in Gary's proven leadership and experience, I've decided it's the right time for me to announce my retirement."

IBJ was unable to reach Bonach late Tuesday for additional comments. 

In that same statement, Board Chairman Neal Schneider described Bonach’s accomplishments at CNO as “immeasurable.”

"He has successfully increased shareholder value, delivered strong profitability, and has been unwavering in his commitment for CNO to be the leader in meeting the needs of middle-income Americans for financial security and readiness for the life of their retirement,” Schneider said. "He's leaving CNO a strong, thriving, focused and profitable insurance enterprise. We're also pleased that Gary is well-positioned to seamlessly fill the CEO role, as CNO continues to expand and fulfill its vision."

Bhojwani said he is "tremendously excited" about taking the top job at CNO. 

"I strongly believe that CNO is uniquely qualified to meet the needs of the middle-income market, our people are extremely talented, and our future is bright. I look forward to working closely with our leaders, associates, agents and our board to successfully deliver on our strategy to meet the needs and expectations of our customers, our shareholders, and our communities."

The retirement announcement was made after the close of markets Tuesday. CNO's stock rose 15 cents on the day, to $21.45 per share.

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