Aug. 29 - Josef Ackermann resigned as chairman of Zurich Insurance on Thursday over the apparent suicide of the insurer's CFO Pierre Wauthier. Joanna Partridge looks at the pressures facing top executives.
Another shock for corporate Switzerland. Josef Ackermann, Chairman of Zurich Insurance, has resigned after the apparent suicide of the firm's CFO Pierre Wauthier. The former Deutsche Bank CEO said in a statement Wauthier's family believed he shared some of the blame for his death. It's been a rocky ride for Zurich recently. Flooding in Europe and tornadoes in the US saw it post a 27 percent fall in second-quarter net profit due to natural disaster payouts. And in mid August, the insurer said it would struggle to meet certain performance targets. Zurich's stock fell on the news about Ackermann's resignation. Wauthier's death comes just a month after Swisscom's Chief Executive Carsten Schloter committed suicide. The two incidents have prompted calls for greater support for high-flying executives. David C.M. Carter is an Executive Mentor. He says since the financial crisis, bosses are under increasing pressure, which also affects their work-life balance. SOUNDBITE: David CM Carter, Executive Mentor and author, saying (English): "These incidents are going to continue to grow and grow, if organisations continue to expect the same very high levels of performance from people and the pressure is mounted on more and more but they're not given the kind of support that is available." At Zurich, Vice-Chairman Tom de Swaan will take over as acting chairman. Ackermann only returned to his native Switzerland in 2012 after over decade at the top of Deutsche. He was one of few senior industry figures to keep his job through the financial crisis. It's uncertain what this latest move will mean for his career - or corporate Switzerland.