It’s all about honoring a promise.

That’s the simple explanation of how the Western & Southern Financial Group, a Fortune 500 company based in Cincinnati, has remained in business for 130 years, says Kim Chiodi, senior vice president of public relations and corporate communications.

The company, founded as the Western and Southern Life Insurance Co. on Feb. 23, 1888, sold its first life insurance policy on May 7 that same year, she says. The company stuck with its long-term perspective and has since prospered by honoring the promises to its clients who bought a life-insurance policy.

“A life insurance policy is actually a legal contract,” says Chiodi. “It is a promise in 10, 20 or even 40 years, when you’re not even around to hold me accountable, I’m going to honor that promise.”

Keeping those promises, coupled with the company’s culture, has been the two main reasons that the Western & Southern Financial Group has lasted this long, she says. And that culture starts with personal connections.

“We were founded on the principle of being a human institution serving human needs and we still do that,” says Chiodi. “We are here to meet the needs of our clients and customers.”

Meeting the needs of its clients started in 1888 with agents going door to door where they were met by a housewife who offered the agent a piece of pie before giving the 31 cents for the weekly premium and then telling them about the latest family news, Chiodi says.

The world has changed since then and now the company has evolved into multiple member companies that provide not only life and health insurance but mutual funds, investment management, real estate investment and a host of other types of financial services, she says.

That evolution and growth has been through a combination of natural growth from within the company and through acquisitions, says Chiodi. The company, which now has about $75 billion in assets owned or under its care, will continue to grow in the same manner well into the future, she says.

“We plan to be around for another 130 years,” says Chiodi. “We’ve made promises to our customers and our clients that we will be here when they need us.”

Western & Southern Financial Group is also there for the Greater Cincinnati community by contributing about $50 million to roughly 200 nonprofits in five years, she says.

The company is the presenting sponsor for six major events every year, including the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Walk MS fundraiser, the Ride Cincinnati United Against Cancer fundraiser, the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament, the Western & Southern/WEBN Fireworks at Riverfest, the Western Southern Thanksgiving Day Race and the Crib of the Nativity at Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park.

“For Cincinnati— and for all of the communities in which we operate—we have a vision that we will be the best place to live, work and enjoy life,” says Chiodi.

And it all starts and ends with a promise.

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