James Schiro, who became chief executive of the then Zurich Financial Services in 2002 and guided it through the credit crisis, has died at his Princeton, New Jersey home at the age 68. He had been suffering from multiple myeloma.
Schiro came in as chief operating officer of the company in 2001 and succeeded Rolf Hüppi as chief executive in May 2002. The then troubled operation had reorganised its divisions the previous year and spun off Zurich Re as Converium. He immediately said that his priority was to improve the company's profitability. In September he launched a heavily discounted rights issue that sought to raise $2.5bn to rebuild Zurich's capital base. By the end of 2003 Zurich had generated a gain of $2.1bn in profit, compared with a record loss of $3.4bn in 2002.
The native New Yorker returned the company to profitability and retired from Zurich in 2009. Prior to joining Zurich he had risen through the ranks to the chairmanship of Price Waterhouse. Subsequent to his retirement from Zurich he became the lead independent director at Goldman Sachs.