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Executive Closeup

Walters Takes 'Number One' to Heart

John Hancock Life Insurance Co.'s Robert Walters likes to be first-and at the Boston-based insurance company he has had his way.

Walters joined John Hancock ($127.8 billion in assets) in 1995 as the company's first CIO and, with his recent promotion to executive vice president and CIO, he becomes the first CIO and technologist to sit on John Hancock's policy committee-a group that sets corporate strategy and business goals.

"All of the business heads are on the policy committee," says Walters. "I get to sit at the table for issues involving corporate strategy. That is good for the company and for IT, since technology is playing an increasingly important role."

Before joining Hancock, Walters spent 10 years at Citicorp, an experience that has helped him "immensely" in the development of online insurance product sales, he says. "It was really my background in banking that has led to my success," says Walters. "The banking experience-the transactional banking experience-has really helped my career" when it comes to managing online insurance transactions.

Walters plans to help John Hancock become the leading seller of complicated variable insurance products on the Web. "The company has been a leader in Web-based technology," says Walters. "We are currently the leader in selling term life insurance over the Web. We want to expand into other products." Once again, Walters aims to be first.

Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology. View Full Bio

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