Neal Abernathy, 48, has been named chief operating officer of the wholesale insurance broker Swett & Crawford, based in Woodland Hills, Calif.

In a statement, Swett & Crawford said Mr. Abernathy is expected to take over the helm of the brokerage firm upon the retirement of the broker’s current chief executive, David Hartoch.

Mr. Hartoch came out of retirement to rejoin Swett & Crawford in April after its CEO at the time, Thomas Comer, suddenly left the job.

Until recently, Mr. Abernathy, who has been with Swett & Crawford or one of its acquired subsidiaries for the past 20 years, was regional manager of the broker’s Southeast marketing territory.

The company said he has been instrumental in planning for Swett & Crawford’s expected divestiture from its parent company, Chicago-based Aon Corp.

In February, Aon announced it was exploring alternatives to ownership of the company.