Ready to Run Wild

By the time John C. McArthur opened his own small insurance-consulting practice, he’d already built his reputation through aggressive networking and smart choices

John C. McArthur (Photo: Samantha Simmons)
John C. McArthur (Photo: Samantha Simmons)

John C. McArthur’s résumé reads like a how-to guide for setting yourself up for future success. The British Columbia native began his career working fervently with large insurance groups, and he proved his leadership capability early, reaching his first CEO position for SAFECO Canada all the way back in 1975 and running the company reliably for the next 17 years.

In the early 1990s, though, when SAFECO decided to withdraw from the Canadian marketplace because of the threat of the nationalization of the auto-insurance business by Ontario’s newly elected socialist government, McArthur successfully arranged a tough sale of the firm to a competitor. It was a challenge he thought he might not be able to overcome, but “in doing so, I preserved the jobs of our Canadian employees, the market for our brokers, and coverage for our policy holders,” he says. McArthur was suddenly out of a job, but the recognition he earned from the deal, combined with his penchant for networking and his considerable insurance-industry expertise, meant that a wealth of new opportunities were just around the corner, including, eventually, his own insurance-consulting business.

In 1992, immediately after SAFECO, McArthur moved on to become CEO and president of ITT Hartford Canada, shaping the company for acquisition and achieving just that only a few years into the job. Then, with this second major leadership success under his belt, McArthur came to the conclusion that the time was right to start his own business. “I decided to leverage off these relationships [and build] a consulting practice to serve the industry’s needs,” he says. So he cofounded Vancouver-based insurance-management firm AMAC Consultants Inc. in 1996, and today it operates under the umbrella of John C. McArthur & Associates, Inc.

By the Numbers

John C. McArthur & Associates

Number of McArthur’s former SAFECO and ITT Hartford associates who now hold the rank of VP or higher in the insurance industry

Insurance brokerages that McArthur helped facilitate the purchase of on a national scale

Senior managers (including presidents, CEOs, and COOs) who McArthur recruited for the executive side of his practice

Years that McArthur has served as a member of the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s board of directors

Years that McArthur served as CEO of SAFECO Canada before its sale

McArthur’s firm, of which he is now president, handles mergers, acquisitions, and executive-search services, providing direct consulting and business evaluations to a nationwide pool of executive clientele. McArthur himself enjoys the work and the way it confronts him with new learning experiences every day. “The insurance industry is fascinating,” he says. “It is one of the largest employers in the world and touches on all facets of industry, business, and society.”

Along the way to his current position, McArthur has been a major benefactor in the careers of numerous current insurance-industry leaders. “I am most proud of the fact that more than 150 of my former SAFECO and ITT Hartford associates now hold the rank of vice president or above,” he says. McArthur has grown his Rolodex, enhanced his industry knowledge, and leveraged himself above his competitors—all during trying industry times—largely by establishing a network of like-minded professionals through volunteering and membership in industry organizations. In fact, a particular way McArthur measures his success is by tracking his “contribution to the industry through involvement as a director of all major industry trade and technical associations,” he says.

His active role in industry affairs includes serving as president of the Insurance Institute of Ontario, as chairman of the Insurance Crime Prevention Bureau and of Canadian Industrial Risks Insurers, and as a member of the board of directors of the Insurance Bureau of Canada for 11 years—including stints as the chairman of the public relations committee, the provincial legislation committee, the claims committee, and the claims catastrophe committee.

Using his networking ability and his indus­try know-how, McArthur has successfully taken digest­ible bites out of an elephant-size market. And, in doing so, he says, “[My firm and I] have earned a sterling reputation for integrity, knowledge, contacts, and the ability to get things done.”

John C. McArthur, who first became a CEO in 1975, recently earned the prestigious designation of UE Loyalist. (Photo: Samantha Simmons)
John C. McArthur, who first became a CEO in 1975, recently earned the prestigious designation of UE Loyalist. (Photo: Samantha Simmons)