BRADENTON, Fla. - John Forney, a public finance advisor and specialist in insurance and catastrophe bonds at Raymond James | Morgan Keegan, is leaving the investment bank to become chief executive officer of a Florida-based property insurance company.

The announcement was made Tuesday a few hours after Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corp. priced $1.5 billion of bonds and notes with Forney as financial advisor.

Citizens has become the largest property insurer in Florida, and allows private insurance companies to take its policies in an effort to downsize.

Forney will be CEO at St. Petersburg–based United Insurance Holdings Corp., earning $450,000 annually. He also will be eligible for cash bonuses, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

United Insurance primarily writes homeowners property insurance in Florida, South Carolina, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The company has also taken policies from Citizens.

“This is a bittersweet move for me,” Forney said in an email after Raymond James announced his departure.

Forney has been with the St. Petersburg-based firm more than 12 years. For many years he has served as financial advisor for two of Florida’s high-profile, state-run insurers — the nonprofit Citizens and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. The Cat Fund is in the midst of planning a financing of up to $1.7 billion.

Forney has also served as financial advisor to the California Earthquake Authority, which helped sell catastrophe bonds. He also assisted Citizens with selling its first catastrophe bonds in May.

“While I am grateful for the opportunity at United, which is a terrific company with an outstanding track record of success, I am sad to be leaving Raymond James and the practice I have helped build there, both in traditional public finance and the specialized catastrophe insurance business in which we have established a position of leadership nationally,” he said.

In early April, Forney was named co-associate head of public finance with Gavin Murrey following Raymond James’ acquisition of Memphis-based Morgan Keegan.

In the last few months, Forney has helped integrate Raymond James and Morgan Keegan public finance platforms, according to Rob Baird, senior managing director and head of public finance and debt investment banking.

“Because of his contribution to the firm’s catastrophic insurance bond advisory practice, we have a very strong team of bankers in place who are committed to serving our existing issuer clients and expanding this unique practice to other issuers,” Baird said.

Forney received a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a master’s of business administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

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