March 17, 2021

Allianz Life Insurance Co. names Jasmine Jirele as next CEO

Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America said Tuesday that Jasmine Jirele will become its…

Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America said Tuesday that Jasmine Jirele will become its next chief executive.

She succeeds Walter White, who has led the Golden Valley-based firm since 2012. The transition will happen Sept. 1.

Jirele has been chief growth officer since 2018 at the company, which is a unit of Allianz SE, based in Munich, Germany, and a provider of insurance and financial services in 70 countries. She served as the chief of staff to Gary Bhojwani, who preceded White as CEO.

“Jasmine brings a compelling combination of strategic vision, deep customer and industry insight, and digital transformation that will help continue to advance Allianz’s growth and its mission of helping its customers secure their future,” Jackie Hunt, a member of the Allianz SE board of management, said in a statement.

In an interview, Jirele said the pandemic has changed the perceptions of risk and the importance of life insurance for Americans, even among younger adults.

“We certainly saw the demand for life insurance grow in part with increased awareness of mortality risk,” Jirele said. “I think the demand for protection products will continue. We are also continuing to see greater interest in risk-management products across multiple different consumer segments.”

Jirele also has experience in marketing, product innovation and operations at Allianz. She started her career at what is now known as Securian Financial and worked for a number of years at Wells Fargo, where she held various leadership positions most recently as an executive vice president of Wells Fargo’s consumer bank division. Jirele returned to Allianz in 2018 as chief growth officer.

Jirele is a 1996 graduate of the University of St. Thomas and earned an MBA from Hamline University in 2011.

She has also had experience working at 3M and NRG Energy. She serves on the College Possible board of trustees and an adviser for the Washburn Center for Children’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee.

White will step down on Sept. 1 and retire on Dec. 31. White will then be nominated to serve as independent director of the Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America board of directors.

After a year in which most of its employees worked remotely, the company is still determining how it will balance office and remote work after the pandemic ends.

“We could end up in a place that was better than it was before, if we balance the flexibility of working remotely with some of the advantages of getting together to collaborate,” White said in an interview. “That’s what we are thinking through now, can we use this transition to end up in a stronger position.”

Allianz Life, which has 2,075 employees including 1,921 who work either on-site or live in Minnesota, sells life insurance and annuity products

That opportunity will largely fall on Jirele to capitalize on. “I’ve been really impressed by the flexibility, resiliency, adaptability of our team. I think we have found a good way to blend some new ways of working” she said.

But Jirele also said the pandemic has revealed some megatrends in financial services.

“The pandemic really accelerated digitalization, at least in the financial-services world, by several years. We likely won’t go back to the model we were all familiar with pre-pandemic,” she said. “Customers and financial advisers are enjoying and accustomed to more choices in how they are working with us.”

White joined Allianz in 2009 and became CEO at the start of 2012. White also serves on the board of the Minnesota Business Partnership and the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities. He is also a director and member of the executive committee of Senior Community Services and a member of the advisory board of the American College Center for Ethics in Financial Services.

Under White’s leadership, from the start of 2012 through 2020, operating profits grew from $586 million to more than $1 billion, and assets under management grew from $93.9 billion to $156.6 billion.

White said he delayed his retirement due to the pandemic.

“I was contemplating exiting at the end of last year,” he said. “I thought in general it was time to have fresh leadership, but because of the pandemic it seemed more appropriate to stay on as we figured our way through our new work model and work our way through the market crisis.”

Patrick Kennedy • 612-673-7926

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