Almost a year ago, before I even joined the VCIA, I attended the World Captive Forum in Miami, and well, here I am again, learning and networking. And what a year it has been, my first as VCIA President! More on that in a future blog, but I am happy to report that there is further evidence here at this event of the resilience and growth in the captive industry. Right now, I am sitting in on the regulatory panel (featuring Vermont’s own Sandy Bigglestone), and every domicile present is talking about growth, new product lines and innovation across the board.
For Vermont and VCIA it has been a great event, strengthening our stakeholder relationships and building new ones.
We also debuted the new Vermont booth – please pay no attention to the fact that 4 captive professionals working collaboratively could not get the lights on right! Despite that, the booth looks great (we fixed the lights) and certainly acted as a beacon within the exhibit hall. Vermont is off to the races to try to top last year’s 41 new captive count!
I also got to fulfill on my mantra of ‘cooperate to grow the pie, compete for a larger slice’ by visiting with the other domiciles present to specifically invite them to the VCIA’s Annual Conference in August. While many already attend, I was happy to invite them to come as exhibitors. The greatest accolade that we could get for the VCIA Conference would be when an attendee says ‘I attended the event and got the solution I needed.’ Of course, I would be delighted if that solution was Vermont, but I must also recognize that there are many offerings in the marketplace. So far, we’ve gained great interest in other domiciles/associations for our booth spaces!
That’s all for my live World Captive Forum reporting. Sad to say we New Englanders must leave sunny Miami and return to Vermont with a temperature shift of 107°F forecast. Winter may be hard, but it won’t last forever in the Green Mountain State, and the closer spring approaches means the closer our 2023 conference cycle starts!
I am not expecting a Netflix development contract to come my way after my TV appearance (well, YouTube – the recordings can be found here and here) testifying before Vermont’s Senate Finance and House Commerce committees, but you never know. In fact, I was just the ‘warm-up guy’ for the real stars, VCIA Board Chair Tracy Hassett, and the VCIA’s Legislative Committee Chair, Ben Gould. Tracy had a compelling story about saving millions of dollars for edHEALTH (a member-owned higher education group) through their medical stop-loss captive, while Ben detailed how the legislation that these two committees work on keeps Vermont as the Gold Standard of the industry. Both committees were very receptive to us, and look forward to updating and finalizing a captive bill for 2023. As soon as there is any progress, we will let VCIA members know!
Following committee testimony, VCIA’s legislative advocate Jamie Feehan organized a slate of a Legislative Leadership meetings, where nearly 30 VCIA stakeholders heard from House and Senate Minority Leaders, House Speaker, Lieutenant Governor and the State’s Treasurer on what their priorities are for the legislative session, how the parties work together, and why they will continue to be champions of the captive industry and optimize the legislation that supports it.
But I need to back up! Before all of this, the VCIA’s Board held a public session where we heard from the DFR’s Sandy Bigglestone and the DED’s Brittany Nevins on the state of the captive industry in Vermont. 41 new formations (another ‘top 10 year’)! This was followed up by an informal lunch, where House and Senate legislators were able to mix with VCIA members and staff and learn about what we do. Attendees also heard comments from DFR Commissioner Kevin Gaffney and DED Commissioner Joan Goldstein, both of whom pledged support for and praised the Vermont captive industry and VCIA. The common question of the day from lawmakers: where can I find the next captive industry for Vermont? We didn’t have an answer, but we responded quite passionately that we will continue to protect and strengthen the actual captive industry in Vermont!
Headcount restrictions in place at various locations precluded us from having a mass turnout as in past years, but rest assured that this was an effective and informative Legislative Day that we can build on after two years of virtual attendance.
Given that our advocacy work at a federal and state level is always rated as one of our strongest benefits, there’s no better time to become a VCIA Member.
The Vermont state bird is the Catharus guttatus, more commonly known as the Hermit Thrush. However, the VCIA organizational equivalent is Primo Avis Mandare, for those not up on their Latin–the Early Bird! Leaving just as the Hermit Thrush arrives for its summer visit, the Early Bird’s call is ‘cheaper, cheaper!’ If you’re not quick you will miss its beautiful song because this seasonal visitor departs in just 6 days, having been seen by over 500 people. Primo Avis Mandare is certainly not shy and likes all kinds of attention, so grab your bird call whistle and binoculars and make sure you register for the 2022 VCIA Conference before the clock strikes midnight on Friday July 1st when Early Bird migrates away! I suggest you dally no longer and secure your spot at the captive industry’s biggest and best summer conference by booking your attendance via this link.
VCIA’s 37th Annual Conference–our first in-person in 2019–promises to be an outstanding week of special events, productive networking, and, I’m not afraid to say it, the best captive education you’ll find on the planet.
The variety and depth of sessions, all incorporating the latest trends, emerging risks, and legal contexts, form the foundation of #VCIA2022. You will discuss captives and collaborate on ideas related to climate change, social inflation, tax developments, InsureTech (to name just a few). Simply put, nothing can match that experience without being on the ground in Burlington, Vermont the week of August 8th. Hundreds of captive professionals tend to agree with my perspective. We have attracted a strong crowd to register for the conference already, and we expect our current 500+ count to surge as the expiration of the discount approaches.
A major focus of mine as the new VCIA president is value. What value has VCIA brought to its members and stakeholders in the past and how can I improve upon that? I meet with people and companies on a regular basis to hear their needs and understand how VCIA can help. In the same way, #VCIA2022 is all about value. We’ve built into a week’s schedule as much as quality possible so you benefit from the value of the finest captive educational content and networking opportunities.
Don’t just take it from me. Dozens of talented captive professionals have been working hard for months to produce something special. I refer to the Conference Task Force and VCIA’s Director of Education and Programming Diane Leach. The 2022 Chair of the Conference Task Force, Ian Davis, Senior Vice President, Captive Insurance Relationship Manager at People’s United Bank, realizes the anticipation for #VCIA2022 is growing and can’t wait to share the fruits of our team’s labor. “We know how much it means for the industry to get together and you will see that on full display at the conference, guaranteed. We’ve designed the conference to emphasize engagement, to explore important ideas and how they can benefit our companies, and to celebrate how we all are moving the captive world forward.”
I for one am proud as hell for all the blood, sweat, and tears we’ve put into our Annual Conference. I’m also super excited. Together with some of you, this will be my first VCIA Conference, and I am really looking forward to being able to start and build relationships and connections that will mutually benefit the VCIA and the entire industry.
A Director of Finance, Director of Membership, and Director of Education walk into a bar…jokes aside, Peggy Companion, Janice Valgoi, and Diane Leach have been central in building the high reputation and strong impact of VCIA. What drives them? A deep admiration for the good-natured people in the captive industry.
Along with industry-leading educational sessions and curated networking events, VCIA’s 37th Annual Conference is simply going to be blast. It will be a productive AND enjoyable time—guaranteed. That said, I have a couple of fun “branding” initiatives up my sleeve (after all, this will be my first conference as VCIA president, so I want to make it memorable!). Staff trivia will be one of them. Here’s our final staff spotlight, a tripleheader!, on the three smart and experienced women that are vital to VCIA’s success. Read up on all of our staff so you can get to now us a bit better before our big summer event. We’ll pose some staff questions at the conference and if you get them right you could win a nice little gift!
Director of Education Janice Valgoi
Since 2012, Janice Valgoi has brought many smiles to people in the captive industry. She takes great care in fostering relationships with people and companies, and works attentively in setting up sponsors for the annual conference while managing member needs throughout the year. Something you may not know about Janice, she used to be a serious synchronized swimmer, doing routines in the water and getting chewed up by Canadian geese. She loves dancing whether on land or sea!
Naturally her mind focuses on the conference this time of year, and when asked about what she’s excited about, she has a difficult time choosing. “To be honest I’m excited about everything! It’s very fulfilling to see everyone benefit from the conference. I think we give sponsors and exhibitors a really great value. There’s nothing better than bringing everyone together and that’s what the 2022 conference will be like. The VCIA staff has worked so hard to put it all together and make it a wonderful experience. It’s a very cool high to complete it!”
Director of Finance Peggy Companion
Four weeks into Peggy’s tenure at VCIA the office flooded. Her room was the only part of the floor that didn’t get damaged, and so she stayed in the building while everyone worked remotely. It was quite the initiation. She had just finished an accounting degree after juggling many jobs and working as a single mother. Before graduating, her teacher came to her and said, “I am going to change your life today.” He was neighbors with then VCIA president Molly Lambert and set up a meeting for Peggy with her. Peggy hasn’t looked back (minus the flood!) since.
Raised in Long Island, Peggy has lived in many places: Louisiana, Connecticut, Florida, the list goes on! Her work with VCIA comes back to the people she serves and connects with. “The staff, the industry, they are all lovely, supportive, intelligent people.” She sees this year’s Annual Conference as a great opportunity to witness the positive changes VCIA President Kevin Mead has begun making. “Kevin’s got smart plans and visions for the organization. I’m excited about the pathways he’s creating for VCIA.”
Peggy plays the piano and guitar and wants to brush up on her skills. She sails and golfs when she can, but there’s something else. “Peggy’s hidden talent is that she can be a professional singer. She has a wonderful sense of humor and sings a perfect show tune,” Diane revealed, to Peggy’s chagrin.
Director of Education and Programming Diane Leach
October 2022 marks 35 years of employment for Director of Education and Programming Diane Leach. She’s been with VCIA literally from the start. “I keep learning something new with VCIA and the captive industry. It’s what keeps me going, this constant evolution of knowledge.”
Diane puts her heart into designing the annual conference. Of course, this year has added significance because it’s the first time since 2019 that it will be back live and in person. She looks at the VCIA Conference as an enormous tool to solve challenges and brainstorm new ideas for the captive industry, and she finds a common theme that will be on display this August. “Change. Change of the guard with the DFR. Change of leadership with the VCIA. Change with hot topics and the incoming generation of captive professionals. This industry responds well to anticipating needs and providing answers to them, and that’s what the conference will be all about.”
If Diane’s not perfecting details for the conference, she’s seeking out a tranquil place on earth. Nature brings her peace, and practicing yoga has kept her more centered as a person. Her best thinking comes out on the trail, or on the mat. She contributes her well being to the support VCIA has provided. “I have always tried to take care of myself and VCIA has encouraged that for all staff.”
What’s most important to Diane? Being a mother. “My greatest joy is being the mother of my two daughters. I love the work-life balance VCIA provides. To have been a present parent means so much to me. VCIA has been so kind and generous to me and because of that I consider VCIA as my third child. And every year that child gets married again and I plan a large wedding to celebrate.”
My crystal ball proved correct when I predicted Kansas to win the NCAA Basketball Tournament. My next fortune-telling stunt? I foresee airfare and lodging for our conference to be quite competitive, so book sooner rather than later!
Anyone bet on Kansas based on my advice of last week? Turned out it was the opposite of a kiss of death: the Jayhawks beat Villanova in the Final Four and won a close game against the UNC Tar Heels in the championship!
I usually have zero ability at this sort of thing, seriously, but I do have another tip for you as solid as the Jayhawks winning it all…
The 2022 VCIA Conference will be epic. I’ve heard from scores of people about how excited they are to return to Vermont. We are a small city (Burlington) and a small state with a big heart. Logistically that means there’s only a limited amount of lodging and airfare options, so it’s crucial you start making your plans quite soon. Some hotels are already fully booked, so follow this link to ensure you receive the conference hotel block discount.
I would also suggest making airline reservations if you are coming in from out of town. Kayak, among a host of other sites, tracks all available flights to Burlington airport. Like with lodging, the sooner the better!
If you are not on our mailing list, visit our website and sign up through the mailing list pop up bar. You can also submit your information on our conference landing page at http://vcia22.live/bvt and you will be alerted to registration. Our May 16th registration is approaching fast and I encourage you to start putting your plans in place!
I’ve seen the demand to meet in person at other events, and listened to the members and stakeholders talking up our event. With my Kansas prediction, I’ve earned my chops as a fortune teller. This next bet is a bit of a no-brainer!
Captive Roadshow and Hot Topic Webinar Major Successes on Back-to-Back Days
2022 brings a wealth of enthusiasm and optimism not only for VCIA but for the entire captive industry. The major cause of this excitement derives from the simple fact that we are all getting together again. Catching up. Building out networks. Collaborating on new ideas. The possibilities are endless when we’re all in the same room. (Which is why we’re so thrilled to bring back our conference this August!)
It’s no small feat then, that this week VCIA’s returned with its first in-person Original Captive Roadshow since November 2019! In Indianapolis on Tuesday an audience of over sixty professionals listened intently and asked great questions as a panel of Vermont industry experts (Sandy Bigglestone, Dave Provost, Brittany Nevins) enjoyed a captive conversation facilitated by Hylant’s Anne Marie Towle. The Vermont team outlined the process and structures of captives in Vermont and why captives can thrive in the Green Mountain State.
Following that, two captive owners Valynda Laird and Will Lehman explained their business case and development of their own entities that have done so well due to captive formation. The feedback was very positive and we are already deep in planning for the next two. The Big Apple just might be seeing our Roadshow before the year lets out.
Not forgetting our Hot Topic Webinar series, the very next day our March webinar had a similar number of attendees for a great session on Strategic Planning for Captive Optimization and Future Success. Many thanks to the erudite panelists, and the State of Vermont’s own Christine Brown who moderated the talk.
These events and others, both online and in-person, have served us well as we identify in-demand topics and exceptional presenters for our August 2022 conference. We are about 6 weeks away from registration, but you can get a ‘sneak peak’ of the entire schedule and sign up for more info at VCIA.com.
Cheers to you, captive learning, and captive collaboration. Happy spring!
Captive Insurance is a bit like rugby. Let me tell you why.
Just three weeks in, and I have quickly learned some truths about the captive insurance industry. Truth number one: how badly it is understood by those outside. Even those that have a knowledge of risk or insurance sometimes seem to shake their heads and mutter darkly when the subject is raised. Truth number two: that external lack of knowledge (or potentially confusion) means that the industry itself is tight knit, cooperative, and friendly.
Over 25 years ago, authors Adam Brandenburger and Barry Nalebuff co-authored a book called Co-Opetition in which they used game theory to suggest that businesses should cooperate to “grow the size of the pie,” and then compete for a larger slice of that enlarged pie. Seeing the way in which board members and other VCIA volunteers are working together for the benefit of the association and for the industry is almost a case study in what the authors refer to.
A second thing that has struck me is the number of rugby people there are in the captive industry. And there are similarities! To the uninitiated, rugby looks dangerous, risky, and somewhat unmanaged. To those that know the game, it is subtle, nuanced, athletic, and referred to as “the game they play in heaven.” On the field, rugby players are intensely competitive, but once the final whistle blows the bruises and battles are forgotten and a spirit of camaraderie and mutual support comes to the fore.
So, rugby as a metaphor for captive insurance? Perhaps that is too much of a reach! But my predecessor, Rich Smith, commented to me multiple times that the essence of the VCIA was built around mutual respect, understanding, and a sense of all being in the same league—if not all on the same team.
For me, rugby season is about to start up. This Saturday, the 19th, I will be refereeing at a tournament put on by the University of Vermont women in Burlington. Feel free to check this out or any rugby game in your location and see if my comments on the similarities hold any water!
Today I will be hopping on a plane destined for the southwest; Tucson, Arizona, to be exact – where CICA’s 2022 International Conference will be taking place. In span of just a few weeks, I will have attended the World Captive Forum in Miami and now CICA. It’s hardly been a gradual easing into the position of President of VCIA; rather the opposite: I’ve jumped in and enjoyed every moment of it.
With our affable Director of Membership Janice Valgoi, I spent my days in Miami meeting many wonderful folks who make the captive industry what it is. Perhaps more importantly, I was able to carefully listen to their concerns and hopes for the state of captive insurance in 2022. I also participated in Captive 101, something VCIA will feature in its Conference this August. The course in Miami was engaging and informative. A “brains trust’’ (including Vermont’s own Dave Provost) did their utmost to make captives intelligible to those of us who are new arrivals. Any lack of understanding was my fault, not theirs!
Now, having World Captive Forum in the rear view, I look forward to CICA with even more enthusiasm. In Miami, it was tremendously energizing and delightful to be with people in person again, and I was warmly welcomed by so many important makers and doers within the captive industry, some of whom have decades of institutional knowledge and experience! Many thanks to the State of Vermont’s Dave Provost and his team for hosting us at their World Captive booth.
I’m Irish, and so I will cheerfully enjoy the Craft Brewery Tour during the CICA event. I hope we can raise a glass together and get to know each other. I look forward to making strong professional connections and learning more about the intricacies of captive insurance in the process. So, please, do reach out at the conference, and see you at CICA!