Voya Falls Most in 14 Weeks as CFO Leaves for Role at S&P

  • Insurer appoints Michael Smith to fill finance chief vacancy
  • Steenbergen’s departure is disappointing, KBW analyst says

Voya Financial Inc. slumped the most in 14 weeks after announcing the departure of Chief Financial Officer Ewout Steenbergen, who will take the CFO role at S&P Global Inc.

The insurer tumbled 3 percent to $29.98 at 4:02 p.m. in New York Thursday, extending its decline for the year to 19 percent. Voya said after markets closed Wednesday that Michael Smith, who has worked as chief executive officer of insurance solutions and as chief risk officer, will take on Steenbergen’s role.

“We have a very high opinion of Mr. Steenbergen and are surprised and disappointed by his departure,” Ryan Krueger, an analyst at Keefe Bruyette & Woods, said Thursday in a note. “It probably does, to some extent, reflect the more challenging life insurance sector outlook.”

CEO Rodney Martin has been reshuffling management at the New York-based insurer, giving more responsibilities to Carolyn Johnson in September while shifting Smith’s duties. Voya also faced turnover in recent months as Jeffrey Becker, who led the company’s asset manager, left to join Prudential Financial Inc. Christine Hurtsellers, who was previously the investment chief for Voya Investment Management’s fixed-income business, took over Becker’s job.

Management Turnover

Life insurers have been pressured by low interest rates, which squeeze investment income on the assets backing obligations to policyholders. Voya reported in August that second-quarter profit slumped 43 percent to $162 million as net investment losses widened. The company is scheduled to report third-quarter results on Nov. 2.

“The departure of Voya’s CFO marks the second higher-level executive departure within the last few months,” Tom Gallagher, an analyst at Evercore Partners Inc., said Wednesday in a note. “While we view Mr. Smith as a capable replacement for the CFO role, we think there will still be some investor questions related to the transition given the various changes to management responsibilities over the past few months.”

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