Ohio National Financial Services has named a new CEO to replace its 12-year chief, who is retiring. She becomes the first African American woman to lead the company in its century-plus history.
Barbara Turner, who has been president and COO at Montgomery-based life insurer Ohio National since November 2018, will become CEO Jan. 1 in addition to retaining her president’s title. Her promotion coincides with the retirement of Gary “Doc” Huffman from his role of CEO. Huffman will remain as chairman.
Turner, an African American, is Ohio National’s 11th president and is the first woman and first person of color to lead the company since its founding in 1909.
Turner joined Ohio National in 1997 and has more than 35 years of leadership experience in the financial services industry.
She said in a release she’s “honored and proud” to take over as CEO.
“I look forward to continuing to deliver a highly competitive product portfolio that provides the protection and value our customers want and need,” Turner said in the release. “Guided by our mutual heritage and mission, it is our passion and purpose to continue to serve our policyholders today and for generations to come.”
Turner previously headed up Ohio National’s annuities strategic business unit, served as chief administrative officer and was president and CEO of The O.N. Equity Sales Co. (ONESCO), the company’s affiliated broker/dealer. ONESCO experienced historic growth and profitability, with client assets growing to over $8 billion under her leadership. She attended the University of Cincinnati and started her career in banking. She was operations, trading and systems manager for Reynolds DeWitt Securities before joining Ohio National.
Turner was elected to Ohio National’s board in December 2019.
Huffman joined Ohio National in August 2008 as vice chairman of distribution and became vice chairman and COO in November 2009. He became president and CEO the following year and added the chairman’s role in 2012.
Ohio National’s enterprise assets soared 60% to $39.7 billion while equity increased 66% to $2.9 billion during his tenure. Domestic life insurance direct total premiums and fees climbed 130% to $1.14 billion.
“Our view must be focused on the future, and the seamless transition of leadership is critical to our policyholders, customers and associates,” Huffman said in a release. “There is no question (Turner) has the talent, focus and energy to lead Ohio National and continue to advance its mission. Additionally, she has a deep passion and respect for the positive difference insurance and financial services make in the lives of others.”
Turner is active in the community. She serves on the boards of Advocates for Youth Education; Cincinnati Regional USA Chamber of Commerce; Cincinnati State Technical and Community College; Cincinnati Women’s Executive Forum; vice chair of LL Global Inc.; Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation; and vice chair and board chair-elect of United Way of Greater Cincinnati. She is a member of the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee and Executive Leadership Council.
Ohio National’s revenue totaled $2.3 billion last year. Only one privately held company based in Greater Cincinnati is larger, according to Courier research, although Ohio National is not on the list because it is mutually owned, meaning it’s controlled by its policyholders. Ohio National posted a net loss of $68 million after earning $72 million in 2018. Core earnings of $171 million declined 11%.
Ohio National’s affiliated companies had $40.5 billion in assets under management as of Dec. 31. It serves individuals, families and businesses through a network of financial professionals in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and South America.
Ohio National said earlier this month it is cutting 47 jobs, lowering its total workforce to about 950.
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