The Doctor is in the House

Hartwig, Robert photo 2020 smaller

Dr. Robert Hartwig will be a Keynote Speaker at the VCIA Virtual Annual Conference August 11th

I will be stating the obvious here in when I say we are living in unprecedented times. Trade wars, political turmoil, and the beginnings of a hardening market last year has kept the captive industry on its toes with shifting economic trade winds.  On top of that a world-wide pandemic and social unrest in this country, and it’s a wonder how risk managers sleep at night.   We have invited back a keynote to VCIA Virtual 2020 who addressed our conference about 10 years ago to analyze some of the economic effects facing the insurance industry today, and beyond.

I remember Bob saying he had about 90 or slides to get through in his presentation back then but not to worry – he would make good time.  Sure enough, he ran through the slides effortlessly and I had so many members tell me how much they appreciated his keynote.

Dr. Robert Hartwig is clinical associate professor of finance and director of the Risk and Uncertainty Management Center in the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, and the former president and economist for the Insurance Information Institute in New York.

Over the years, Dr. Hartwig has focused his work on improving understanding of key insurance issues across all industry stakeholders including media, consumers, insurers, producers, regulators, legislators, and investors.  At the University of South Carolina, he teaches courses in risk management, insurance, and corporate finance.  He mentors students and serves and serves as a liaison between the university and the private insurance industry. Bob appears frequently in all major media, speaks internationally, and has testified before many Congressional and state committees on a wide variety of insurance issues.

At VCIA Virtual 2020, Bob will speak on the current state of affairs, and the transitioning insurance market, incorporating themes such as the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the industry that will resonate through the rest of the conference. So, come join us for what will be a truly innervating talk!

I look forward to seeing you all in August at VCIA Virtual! View all the details here.

I See Fireworks!

Celabration festive new year firework headline or bannner.It’s the Fourth of July weekend, and that means only one thing: we are just a little more than a month away from VCIA Virtual 2020! As you know, VCIA always bring the fireworks when it comes to our annual captive conference, and this year will be no different.

The VCIA Virtual Conference will be a great opportunity for the captive world to meet, socialize, learn, earn professional education credits, hear great keynotes, and have fun in this time of uncertainty and isolation.  We are very excited to present an excellent experience for the captive industry, and have people leave at the end knowing their time was very well spent!

We are providing our attendees with the look and feel of being at an in-person event, by using a very robust 3D digital platform. After all, one of the big reasons the captive world comes to meet in Vermont every summer is the opportunity to network with friends and colleagues. A key element of the platform is that attendees can connect with one another easily, for example in the virtual Captive Lounge, where attendees can swing by and meet up with others.  There will also be games and trivia contests to create fun ways to engage people and get them exploring all the places in the digital platform. Our Exhibit Pavilions will be showcase over 50 3D exhibit booths! And the many educational sessions and forums will be second to none. We are excited for it to all come together and be an excellent experience for attendees, sponsors and our many fine service providers who keep the industry humming.

I look forward to seeing you all in August at VCIA Virtual! View all the details here.

Rich Smith,
VCIA President

The F.B.I.

fbi FThose of us of a certain age can remember with absolute clarity the start of the popular show in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The announcer, in a strong, determined voice would introduce, “The F.B.I… starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.” and then we would have an hour-long drama whereby the eponymous organization would hunt down one bad guy after the other.

Well, at this year’s VCIA 2020 Virtual we may not have such a dramatic opening, and the bad guys now hide in the dark web, but the thrill is still there. Joining us on August 12th will be FBI Special Agent Matthew Wabby, currently assigned to the white-collar squad in Albany, NY, investigating corruption, fraud, money laundering and related crimes.  With his panel, he will explore how companies should respond to an increasingly complex and changing set of rules as our business environment and society move ever more quickly into the digital sphere.

Special Agent Wabby will be joined by a group of highly placed cyber and captive insurance experts:

  • Chris Giovino, who leads a practice for Aon when clients have suffered a loss due to crime, employee malfeasance or fidelity related matters;
  • Heather McClure, JD, LLM, Chief Risk Officer, OU Medicine and Executive Director of Operations, OU Physicians, who leads their Vermont-based captive insurance company; and
  • Shiraz Saeed of Starr Insurance Companies, the national practice leader for Cyber Risk responsible for the strategic direction and expansion of the Cyber Risk products and services.

Cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated. Organized crime now uses former intelligence members for more sophisticated attacks, broadening the nature of their attacks, and increasing their frequency. An ever-changing set of regulations from governments around the global compounds the difficulty of managing against cyber risks.

Join us to learn some positive ways to shield against cyber-attacks and respond to breaches if they do occur.  I look forward to seeing you all in August at VCIA Virtual! Register by June 30th for the lowest rates! View all the details here.

A Dramedy Not to Be Missed!

dramedyspeakersLook, nobody wants to be caught in a crisis impacting their captive program and not be prepared. And as we are all dealing with the larger crisis of the pandemic, we can’t take our eye off the day-to-day issues that arise within a captive.  One of the education sessions at VCIA Virtual (our 100% virtual captive conference, if you haven’t kept up) will look at the steps in place to deal with a crisis situation, which can occur no matter how diligent we may be.

Instead of a dry dissertation on the elements of a good crisis management plan, our conference session, called “Crisis Management – A Case Study Dramedy” will explore the reactions, interactions, strategies, and machinations that are all set into motion when a captive or RRG has significant adverse development.  In this “dramedy”, which combines the elements of drama and comedy, the panel will illustrate a situation where adverse development leads to a material reduction in surplus that threatens the company’s stability rating and portends regulatory scrutiny. Various parties will respond to address the cascading circumstances, some more effectively than others.

The panel includes Julie Bordo of PCH Mutual Insurance Company RRG, as moderator, Tina Bukow of Kroll Bond Rating Agency, Gail Newman of Bright Horizons (a captive owner), Dan Petterson of Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation, Kevin Seabury of Opus Investment, Robert Walling of Pinnacle Actuarial Resources, and Troy Winch of Risk Services LLC.  A great group of thespians to give you clarity through observing crisis management in action!

I look forward to seeing you all in August at VCIA Virtual! Register by June 30th for the lowest rates! View all the details here.

Rich Smith,
VCIA President

Open for Business!

final-art-city-square_1After weeks of high anticipation (well, by me anyway), the VCIA 2020 Virtual Conference is open for you to register!

“VCIA Virtual” is the first captive event since the shutdown and is a great opportunity to reconnect and discover what’s going on in the industry.  The event has been carefully designed to meet your needs – come and go as you please to make the event work best for you!

Register today for the August 11 – 13th event to learn, connect with others, earn professional education credit, visit exhibitors, see great keynotes and more. Continuing professional education credits are available through August 15th to watch what you missed. Since all the educational sessions are easily accessible, attendees may earn more credit than ever before during the event – a total of 21 credits are available.

Sure, you’re a little skeptical on how this virtual thing is going to work. Well, we have developed a “sneak peek” of how the conference will look and feel as an attendee for you to see. Click here to open your preview right now. I think you will enjoy the experience.

I look forward to seeing you all in August at VCIA Virtual! Register by June 30th for the lowest rates! View all the details here.

Rich Smith,
VCIA President

Better Together

I know all of us have been absolutely appalled at what we are seeing across the United States in many of our cities. As we have been digging deep as a nation to try and get a handle on the pandemic gripping the world, the vast underlying racism that permeates our society is a more enduring scourge we all face.

It’s hard for me to opine on the issue. As a white man of a certain age, I know I have benefitted from the too often unnoticed privilege that was laid before me, whether consciously or not.  And, as the father of two young men, I certainly do worry about their future; but I have never had to worry on a daily basis that my sons might not be safe due to the color of their skin. That is a situation that no human should ever need to endure. I too often take for granted living here in Vermont which is its own little bubble of serenity – a bubble that often hides from view the systemic racism in our state and the U.S.

As risk management professionals grappling with the impacts of the COVID-19 virus among a number of other issues facing our organizations, let us be aware of the risk facing so many among us, day in and day out.  Addressing it honestly and working for change is the only way forward for our nation.

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Summer’s here and it’s Grillin’ Season

 

I know last week I said summer has finally arrived here in Vermont after a tough spring with 80 degrees and sunny, well that’s nothing to the 90 degrees we had the past couple of days. And like I said that means it’s grilling season.

That reminds me that I am looking forward to my grilling of Vermont’s Commissioner of Financial Regulation, Mike Pieciak! Well, not that I am planning on a “grilling”, perhaps just a light “sautéing” instead. Mike is going to join me at the end of the first day of VCIA’s Virtual Conference to discuss.

Commissioner Pieciak will join me in a conversation with me on major issues impacting the captive insurance industry in Vermont, at the NAIC and beyond. We will hear Mike’s thoughts on transformative changes due to the COVID-19, the current regulatory environment, and other things I plan to spring on him.

Now Mike is a very smart guy and pretty unflappable, but I am going to do my best Mike Wallace on him (for all of you old enough to know the famed 60 Minutes reporter). More information to follow – I hope you can join us this August!

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Memorial Day

Summer has finally arrived here in Vermont after a tough spring. 80 degrees and sunny – it makes me yearn for a barbeque this weekend.

As we all take time to be with our loved ones as best we can this weekend, we must also think about the folks on the front lines dealing with the pandemic on a daily basis. Everyone from  ER nurses and doctors (who went into their careers knowing these risks) to grocery store workers, hardware store clerks, social workers and public transportation workers (who have been thrust into unforeseen and at times impossible positions during this time). We owe each of them an enormous debt of gratitude. As I sit here safe at my kitchen table (now my executive suite), I recognize that I am privileged in this scenario, and that others are not.

If you haven’t done so already, reach out to those in your community who are on the front lines.  They might not be able to spend this weekend with loved ones, friends, and family. A sincere thank you to a minimum wage store clerk may be extra appreciated at this time. And, of course, reach out to your own family and friends and stay connected. Human contact, no matter how much social distancing is required, is more important than ever. And being appreciative of others who are in harm’s way to keep us all safe, is paramount.

Have a peaceful Memorial Day weekend. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Now, That’s Dedication!

ed koral in closet

Note the VCIA Conference bag in the background : )

We are all working under trying circumstances these days as we work our way through this pandemic. But here is an example I think we can all agree goes above and beyond. This is an actual picture of Ed Koral, one of our intrepid panelists during yesterday’s VCIA webinar on Adapting your Captive Program to a Shifting Insurance Market. Talk about adapting!

Ed is a managing director with BDO’s Insurance Risk Advisory Group, a longtime VCIA member, former board member and recipient of VCIA’s vaunted Captive Crusader award in 2019. He is currently working from his home in New York City (COVID-19 ground zero) and has to share both physical and mental space with his wife and two children. Because of the noisy work going on outside his building he needed to use a closet as his studio for the webinar. As fellow presenter Andrew Baillie of AES said, it’s a little Harry Potteresque.

Thank you, Ed! And thank you Andrew, Steve Bauman of AXA XL, and Christine Brown from Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation for a great presentation.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!

There’s More to the Story…

panelA key component in a captive program’s success is its ability to adapt to changing market conditions, economic turbulence, new & emerging risk and even the recent changes in the definition of employment. Even in the midst of this dangerous pandemic, underlying issues impacting the captive industry were emerging.

VCIA will be hosting a webinar next Thursday, May 14th, that will explore ways to shift captive strategy to respond to the business needs of your parent company and optimize your program in our changing market.  Our presenters will demonstrate captive success with emerging risks, illustrate current challenges and keys to achieving a positive outcome, and explore what questions to ask to create a successful pathway to deal with such unforeseen events such as COVID-19.

Our speakers will be four leading thinkers in the captive industry:  Andrew Baillie is the Program Director, Global Insurance for The AES Corporation, a global power producer and distributor, where he supports risk management oversight and the procurement of insurance, as well as managing the company’s large, Vermont-based Captive Insurance Company; Steven Bauman works for AXA XL serving as Head of Global Programs and Captive Practice in North America; Ed Koral is a managing director with BDO’s Insurance Risk Advisory group; and Christine Brown is Assistant Director with the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation – Captive Division, where she directly supports the Director of Captive Insurance and Deputy Commissioner of Captives with licensing, industry outreach and strategic planning.

Join us to learn how to remain agile during these challenging times. Go to www.vcia.com and register today.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!

Rich Smith
VCIA President