Income Protection  

Ex-Winterthur Life chief Finan dies

Ex-Winterthur Life chief Finan dies

John Finan, who rose to be chairman and chief executive of the life and pensions arm of Credit Suisse, has died.

Born in Limerick on 2 May 1938 and brought up in Dungarvan, County Waterford, he died on 18 January, aged 79, after a long illness. 

He began his career as a door-to-door insurance salesman in Wales and he said it was his experience in helping grieving parents to cope with the financial aftermath of the death of their children in the Aberfan disaster that ensured he always put the customer first.

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The Aberfan disaster was the catastrophic collapse of a National Coal Board colliery spoil tip in the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, on 21 October 1966. 

The tip slid down the mountain above the village at 9.15am, killing 116 children and 28 adults as it engulfed the local junior school and other buildings

Speaking about the tragedy and the impact it had on his career, Mr Finan said: "Over and over again I saw first-hand the benefits that enterprising business initiatives bring to customers, to staff and to investors.  

"In particular, I will never forget the difference financial protection has made to very many families. 

"As I learned in the aftermath of the Aberfan tragedy, nothing can replace a lost loved one but at least you can prevent a human tragedy from also becoming a financial catastrophe."

Mr Finan was at Pearl Assurance from 1962 to 1988, where he became a director and general manager and pioneered the UK's first ever television advertisements for financial services. 

He was chief executive and deputy chairman of NEL Britannia (now Invesco) from 1988 to 1991.

From 1992 to 2001 he was chairman and chief executive of Winterthur Life, the UK life and pensions offshoot of the Credit Suisse Group (now owned by Axa), during which time he transformed the company's market position and steered it to unprecedented sales success and profitability.

Then he set up and became managing director of Finan Consulting, where his portfolio included start-up companies in several industry sectors which were able to draw on his vast experience in mentoring, strategic planning, marketing, turnaround management, deal-making and fundraising.

Mr Finan also had many non-executive directorships.

He is survived by his wife Denise and his three sons.