Money Talk

Episode 18

Gerald D. Stephens & Jonathan E. Michael

Host Ed Sutkowski talks with Jerry Stephens, founder and chairman of the board, and Jon Michael, president and chief executive officer of RLI Corp., a specialty insurance company.

Gerald D. Stephens, founder and now chairman of the board of RLI Corp., a New York Stock Exchange corporation, began RLI Corp. in 1965. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin and began his business career in association with his father, H.O. Stephens as a property and casualty insurance agent. Initially, RLI and its subsidiaries were engaged in the business of marketing contact lens insurance. In 1969, RLI “went public” and raised $880,000 by selling 110,000 of its shares at $8.00 per share. Its net income before extraordinary items rose from $41,323 in 1968 to $136,698 in 1969. At the end of year 2003, the market cap of RLI shares exceeded $1 billion and its earnings for calendar year for 2003 exceeded $71 million.

Jonathan E. Michael is president and chief executive officer of RLI Corp., a Peoria-based New York Stock Exchange company with assets exceeding $2.2 billion, insurance premiums in excess of $750 million and market capitalization of approximately $1 billion. Prior to joining RLI as a chief accountant in 1982, Jon was associated with Coopers & Lybrand; he was named to his current position in 2001. Jon is a graduate of Ohio Dominican College in Columbus, Ohio. He is a member of the Boards of RLI Corp.; Maui Jim, Inc., a distributor of sunglasses; Fieldstone Investment Corporation, a mortgage investment and banking company; and Peoria-based First Capital Bank. In addition, he is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Insurance Accounting Systems association and the National Association of Independent Insurers Federal and State Tax Committee.


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