Insurance companies that have thrived for more than 100 years rely on purpose.

Historians note that Babylonian King Hammurabi created the first legal insurance construct that defined risk sharing in 1750 BC. His idea continues to thrive, more than 3,000 years later. Today, insurance is our backbone: without it, families, businesses, indeed entire economies would collapse.

So, I wondered, what allows for growth and success in insurance where companies stand the test of time and are completely relevant today? This resilience boils down to one word – purpose. Here are examples of leaders in the insurance industry who have more than 100 years of success, and how purpose has manifested itself through their models.


Thrivent was founded in 1902 with the goal of helping families achieve financial clarity and lead lives of service and faith, making the most of all they’ve been given. CEO Terry Rasmussen explains how both Thrivent’s workforce and customers participate in the organization’s service-oriented and purposeful generosity programs. “Last year alone, Thrivent and our customers raised and donated $283 million through our generosity programs and volunteered 12.8 million hours of community service,” says Rasmussen.

“We also just celebrated our one millionth Thrivent Action Team — a program that provides resources and funding for community-led events — and since the end of 2014, our customers and workforce have raised a billion dollars to support their community in ways that are most meaningful to them.”


Offense means planting the seeds of public good; and these seeds not only do good, they help companies expand their footprint and engage new communities while invigorating and stimulating the workforce. An example of this is Principal Financial Group, founded in 1879. CEO Dan Houston shares an example of how Principal is uplifting society by doing good in South America, “As an example, The director recently organized an initiative where representatives from our offices in Chile, Brazil and Mexico spent time observing a project with an organization dedicated to improving the educational success of children and youth with disabilities. The school we helped revitalize received $70,000 for infrastructure improvements that will last for years. The numbers are one thing, but the direct interaction with the students that day was truly inspiring. We’ve seen firsthand how they develop skills and nurture talents that will set them up for greater success in life. It highlights the importance of weaving purpose into your organization that unites employees around the world.”


FM Global, founded in 1835, insures more than $10 trillion in commercial property against fire, flood and other disasters, including climate risks. But unlike most insurers, the company uses its engineering heritage (almost a third of its staff are loss prevention engineers) to help clients prevent losses from occurring in the first place. CEO Malcolm Roberts discusses the mutual insurer’s unique business model and purpose. “We are creating progress for a secure world. And that resonates with the market and our employees. For example, when a hurricane makes landfall, a hospital that has followed our advice to improve risk is much more likely to be open the next day to serve patients. Or if a fire hits a manufacturing facility protected under global FM standards, it will be able to continue producing life-saving drugs or critical equipment with minimal downtime. This is the purpose that inspires our growth. The world needs sustainability, and helping to protect the world energizes our entire team.”


National Life Group, founded in 1848, is a company that exists “to do good in our communities and with the individual families we serve.” To fulfill this vision, the organization created a charitable foundation in 2006 that provides millions in funding annually to nonprofit organizations with a special focus on programs that end childhood hunger and address children’s mental health. At the core of the company is fulfilling the inherent promise behind life insurance and annuities is fundamental.

As CEO Mehran Asadi notes, “This business is all about promises. Our growth is entirely tied to being a purposeful and focused company.”

When I asked Mehran about how he identifies the next generation of employees, he said that finding people whose motivation aligns with the company’s values ​​is critical. “When you think about Gen Zs, it’s about helping young people find their ‘why.’ And that why leads to what is most important…doing good, being good and doing good.”

It’s no accident that these four industry-leading companies—in very different spaces and each with a unique brand promise—have built enduring businesses with purpose at their core.

To listen to interviews with these CEOs, go to The CEO Forum Group

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