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Jay Benet

MBA '76

Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of the Travelers Companies

When Jay S. Benet ’76 enrolled in the Simon School’s MBA program, he was looking for a way to turn his mathematics degree into a career.

“At first, I didn’t have a particular career in mind,” Benet says, “but I did take some accounting classes in my senior year at college and found that I liked the subject. I wanted to begin my career in public accounting and then see what developed from there. I also realized that I needed an MBA to get from point A to point B.”

Looks like his plan worked. Now vice chairman and chief financial officer of The Travelers Companies Inc., Benet oversees the financial operations of a very large public company that specializes in property casualty insurance.

Travelers ranks No. 89 on the Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. companies. In 2006, it reported revenues of $25.1 billion, net income of $4.2 billion and total assets of $113.8 billion.
Benet, a member of the Simon School’s Executive Advisory Committee, heads all of the company’s financial operations, including financial reporting and control, corporate actuarial, treasury, tax, internal audit, financial planning and analysis, accounting policy, reinsurance and enterprise risk management.

The property casualty insurance business differs from other industries, such as manufacturing, in one key way—cost of goods sold is not known at the time of sale. Estimating claim costs that will emerge in the future is at the heart of property casualty insurance. “When you manufacture a car, you can add up materials and labor costs to help determine its selling price,” Benet says. “When you create and price an insurance product, you have to develop and use very sophisticated predictive modeling tools, along with many assumptions about the future, to estimate what ultimate claim costs will be—the cost of goods sold.”

After his Simon graduation, Benet headed to Hartford, CT, to work for Coopers & Lybrand, now PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP Following his 14 years at Coopers & Lybrand, where he had become a partner, Benet joined Travelers, where he served in several capacities, including chief financial officer of Travelers Life & Annuity and executive vice president of its individual and group annuity businesses.

Property casualty companies continue to look for future leaders, particularly those who are quantitatively oriented, to help develop the new products and services that customers will need as the world economy continues to change, Benet says.

“The property casualty industry is very much part of today’s economy,” he says. “It is a global industry that uses its very large capital base to help businesses of all sizes and individuals manage risk.”

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Jay Benet Benet

When Jay S. Benet ’76 enrolled in the Simon School’s MBA program, he wanted to begin his career in public accounting and then see what developed from there. He also realized that he needed an MBA to get from point A to point B. Looks like his plan worked. Now vice chairman and chief financial officer of The Travelers Companies Inc., Benet oversees the financial operations of a very large public company that specializes in property casualty insurance.

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