Catholic United Financial names Michael M. Ahles as new president and CEO

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Michael M. Ahles is the new president of Catholic United Financial starting June 16, 2020.


April 27th, 2020

ST. PAUL, MN — One of Minnesota’s oldest and most enduring insurance and financial services companies is changing leadership, but not changing its ability to innovate.

St. Paul-based insurer Catholic United Financial announces that Michael M. Ahles will serve as the company’s new President, CEO and Chair of the Board starting June 16. Ahles has served as the Senior Vice President and Secretary/Treasurer of Catholic United since 2012, and will be the 10th president since the company’s chartering in 1878.  

Appreciation of the past and facing challenges ahead are what Ahles says he looks forward to when he assumes the CEO position.

President Harald Borrmann and Senior Vice President Michael Ahles shake hands after announcing the company had reached $1 billion in assets on Nov. 11, 2019.President Harald Borrmann and Sr. Vice President Michael Ahles celebrate Catholic United’s $1 billion announcement in November 2019.

“If you view your work as a job, you can always find another job. If you view your work as a calling, you’re the future of our company,” says Ahles. “It is the passion of our employees to serve members and recruit new members, and to build new ways of doing both that have grown our Association to where we are today.” 

As Senior Vice President of Catholic United, Ahles has been at the forefront of a joint technology venture called Conventus Now, LLC with fellow fraternal insurer Catholic Financial Life based in Milwaukee. The venture was announced in August 2019 and garnered much attention as a first-of-its-kind partnership in the fraternal insurance industry, with possible cooperative ramifications for the entire life insurance sector.

“I believe that these partnerships are essential for societies like ours,” said Ahles. “It will allow us to make investments in new products, drive member growth and build scale in ways that weren’t possible previously.”

The venture will continue under Ahles’ presidency, as will the company’s two goals of growing membership and growing financial strength. The company achieved a milestone of $1 billion in assets last November and has been focused on total surplus growth for several years.

Catholic United Financial is a 501(c)(8) fraternal association; this is a class of insurance company given not-for-profit status by the federal government due to their “member-owned” structure and charitable mission to return profits back to the community through religious, educational and service pursuits.

Ahles will oversee 98 employees and a membership of more than 76,000 across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Before joining Catholic United, Ahles was Vice President of Insurance Operations for The Independent Order of Foresters and held a number of progressively expanding financial leadership positions with Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America. Ahles’ passion for the insurance industry was kindled at the start of his 30-year career, which he began as a certified public accountant. He is also a graduate of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management. 

It is the passion of our employees to serve members and recruit new members, and to build new ways of doing both, that have grown our Association to where we are today.

– Michael Ahles

Ahles succeeds President Harald Borrmann, who is retiring from the position in which he has served since 2012. Like Ahles, Borrmann joined the company in the position of Senior Vice President.

When asked to describe his successor, Borrmann says Ahles is “the perfect choice for Catholic United and our members. He is a financial expert with a strong operations background and he has worked for two fraternal insurers in the past. Plus, he has exhibited a keen understanding of our members and their needs and interests.”

Sr. Vice President Michael Ahles speaks to volunteers at the Gather4Good event in Columbia Heights, MN in 2019 Sr. Vice President Michael Ahles talks to volunteers at a 2019 Gather4Good service event in Columbia Heights, MN.

Borrmann says he expects a seamless transition. “What will not change is the importance of that thing we call ‘leadership’. That quality is perhaps the single most critical element in a president, and Mike has exhibited great leadership throughout his career.”

Ahles accepts the helm of the company as it and the entire financial industry are adjusting to challenges from shifting markets, low interest rates and the unknown impact of COVID-19.

“The rate increases by the Federal Reserve we were seeing in mid to late 2018 have eroded given concerns over slowing economic growth, not to mention the impact to financial markets from the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Ahles. “Investing to garner higher fixed income returns will continue to be a challenge, hopefully not for the long term.”

As the American economy emerges from coronavirus quarantine, the chances for fraternal insurers like Catholic United to innovate are numerous, and the charitable motivations behind its business model will be attractive to potential members.

“Opportunities to increase the efficiency of serving members and bringing in new members is an inspiring challenge,” says Ahles.

Photos, company history and more details available for publication
at www.catholicunitedfinancial.org/media-content

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