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Wealthiest People in CT: 11. William R. Berkley

Chairman and CEO
WR Berkley, Greenwich
2022 Net Worth: $3.7 billion
More Information

William R. Berkley takes a long-term view.

The Greenwich resident launched W. R. Berkley Corp., a Fortune 500 property-casualty insurance holding company, in 1967 and served continuously as chairman of the board and the company’s CEO until October 2015, when he became executive chairman.

He’s also chairman of many of the company’s diversified subsidiaries, including investment management firm Berkley Dean & Co.

Berkley — who has an estimated net worth of $3.7 billion and maintains property in Greenwich, according to some records — also believes in thinking small, while leveraging the power of large.

“Every Berkley company has the ability to react as quickly and effectively as a small business, while offering the superior stability and resources of W. R. Berkley Corp.,” according to a company announcement.

The approach works. At the end of 2020, W. R. Berkley Corp. reported that operating cash flow increased 41.3% to more than $1.6 billion, gross and net premiums written increased 7.1% and 5.8%, respectively, while book value per share grew 10.5%, before share repurchases and dividends.

Total capital returned to shareholders was $430 million, including $346 million of share repurchases and $84 million of dividends.

In an earlier interview with Leaders magazine, Berkley, 75, laid out some of his philosophy:

“Every entrepreneur always wants to find ways to do things better, faster and bigger. The list of things I keep is a list of the stupid things I’ve done that have almost been catastrophic failures. It’s a list I keep to make sure I don’t repeat any of them. I’m never worried about celebrating the successes; I’m more worried about trying to avoid the pitfalls.”

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