Insurance subsidiary exec found dead

Insurance subsidiary exec found dead | Insurance Business America

Insurance subsidiary exec found dead
The chief economist with Russell Investments, a Seattle-based subsidiary of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., was found dead Friday morning in an apparent suicide.

Mike Dueker, 50, was reported missing on Jan. 29 when a group of friends alerted law enforcement. Dueker had apparently been having problems at work, though company spokeswoman Jennifer Tice told Bloomberg the economist was “in good standing” with Russell.

“We are deeply saddened to learn today of the death,” Tice said in an email. “He made valuable contributions that helped our clients and many of his fellow associates.”

Dueker had worked with Russell for five years, where he developed a business-cycle index to forecast economic performance for the group. He published several research papers in his career, most on monetary policy, and was ranked among the top 5% of economists according to the St. Louis Fed’s website.

Dueker was found dead at the side of a highway near the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Pierce County, Wash. Police believe he may have jumped over a four-foot fence before falling down a 40- to 50-foot embankment.

Pierce County Detective Ed Troyer said Dueker’s death appeared to be a suicide, though friends and executives at Russell declined to comment on Troyer’s problems at work.

Russell Investments was acquired by Northwestern Mutual in 1999. In addition to providing life insurance services, Northwestern Mutual also sells long-term care insurance, disability insurance and employee benefit services.

The company is the nation’s largest life insurance provider, with more than $2 trillion in force, according to AM Best.  It currently boasts an AA+ rating from Standard & Poor’s, downgraded from AAA in August 2011.