Outlook 2024 | MassMutual CEO: A trillion ways to say, ‘We are there for you’

One room with one table, two desks, three chairs and a map of Springfield on the wall. Those were the modest trappings of MassMutual’s first office when we opened for business back in 1851. By that time, Springfield, the “City of Firsts,” already had seen its share of innovators and pioneers — from Thomas Blanchard’s breakthroughs in assembly line production to Charles Goodyear’s groundbreaking process for hardening rubber, which would eventually be used in automobile tires.

As these inventions grew our economy, while lifting many families into the middle class, insurance agent George Rice and his cousin, Caleb Rice, sought to fill another burgeoning need: helping residents protect their newfound wealth by building long-term financial security for their families. What started in that one-room office — with just $370,000 in life insurance coverage issued to families in that first year — would soon expand. As railroad tracks, roads and telephone lines began to crisscross America, MassMutual followed. By 1923, through sheer hard work, determination and expansion, our company reached $1 billion in coverage issued.

And, as the saying goes, while history doesn’t repeat itself, sometimes it does, in fact, rhyme. Exactly 100 years later, at the end of 2023, MassMutual proudly surpassed a new milestone: $1 trillion in total life insurance coverage issued to our policyowners to help protect their loved ones. Every company needs a strong base from which to build and grow, and for nearly 173 years, Massachusetts — and especially our home city of Springfield — has been our foundation. What we learned from the people of this community is that, when neighbors look out for each other and share the benefits and responsibilities of citizenship, great things can happen.

From our earliest days, MassMutual has been strengthened by our region’s world-class colleges and universities, high quality of life, and thriving, entrepreneurial culture, all of which has enabled us to attract talented, creative, and hard-working employees and financial professionals. For decades, the people who came to work each day for our company not only helped us reach this milestone, but demonstrated the highest standards of integrity and a deep passion for helping people achieve financial security — traits that remain to this day. Of course, any talk of previous generations of employees warrants mention of their legacy — and more specifically, the decisions they made over the course of our long history that put us on a path for success today.

That starts with who we are as a mutual company, which means we operate for the benefit of our policyowners. While public companies answer to shareholders and analysts, and face constant pressure to generate short-term profits, MassMutual’s interests always have been aligned directly with our customers’ long-term needs. Over the years, this mindset has given us the stability to navigate challenges — from world wars to economic crises to global pandemics — as well as the flexibility to expand the ways we reach people, broaden our range of products, and enhance our digital capabilities to make it easier to do business with us.

As a result, this clarity of focus and long-term approach is how we’ve been able to deliver for people when they need us most — from a family that can afford to keep their beloved home after a breadwinner dies, to a worker who can remain financially independent when recovering from illness or disability, to a retiree who can live comfortably with guaranteed lifetime income. At the same time, for our company and our customers to thrive, we must be there to help our communities do the same. That includes the Western Massachusetts region, where MassMutual has risen to the occasion in times of need, as well as unlocked potential for people to prosper.

As we’ve marched toward this milestone, we’ve done so while supporting our neighbors through hardship — whether it was turning our home office gym into a temporary shelter for people during the Great Flood of 1936, contributing to rebuilding efforts after a tornado swept through our region a decade ago, offering free term life insurance to front-line health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, or just last summer, donating funds to help local farmers after weather ravaged their crops. What’s more, this commitment to our communities has extended to creating long-term impact and eliminating barriers to social and economic advancement, including reaching more than 4.5 million students with our financial literacy curriculum, supporting efforts to bridge the digital divide and expand broadband access for residents across the state, and making homeownership a reality for first-time buyers in Springfield.

Ultimately, MassMutual always has measured success by our ability to be there for the people who need us most. When we reflect on our $1 trillion milestone, we see more than just a number: We see people across generations who could rest easier knowing their future was secure. And we see an enduring commitment of a company to its community and vice versa — which is mutuality at its best. I’m more confident than ever that no matter what happens in our world, we’re prepared to help people secure their future and protect the ones they love for generations to come. Rooted in the rich history and values of Western Massachusetts, that’s exactly what MassMutual will continue to do.

Roger Crandall is chairman, president and CEO of MassMutual. To learn more about Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., go online to massmutual.com.