In the Land of the Sound of Music to Reflect on VCIA’s Future

The VCIA is not one to rest peacefully on its laurels.  In addition to the fact that the Conference Task Force is already working on the 2023 VCIA Annual Conference, I also need to tell you about our future planning process.  Just this week, staff went offsite to the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe for our annual planning retreat.  While we did not indulge in a Sound of Music karaoke session, we did have six hours of highly productive conversations concerning the future direction and initiatives for the VCIA. 

Lunch at the Mountain Von Trapp Resort of Austria…I mean Stowe!

We brainstormed big picture ideas as well as how to optimize our work systems. We discussed opportunities and how VCIA can better serve our members and the captive community as a whole. What else can we provide? What can we do different and new? What do our members want, and what do they want in the future? Overall, we identified key areas to explore, steps to take, and proposals to confer the Board on. A stroll in the misty mountains by the grazing cows was the perfect cap to the day.

The Family Trapp Lodge
The hills are alive with music with songs they have sung for a thousand years!
Some staff and friendly cows

Next up, in less than three weeks, is the fall meeting of the VCIA’s Board, where they will review staff input and also create a plan for member consultation as a part of a root and branch strategic direction consultation.

Then comes your part – member and stakeholder input in a variety of formats. I really hope that you make the choice to participate when asked. Your organization, the VCIA, can only grow and support you if we have clarity on your needs. Our goal will be to look at all ideas, from the incremental to the radical, through the lens of the question “will this build value?”

While our staff retreat generated strong themes and initiatives for the future of the VCIA, these need validation through our process, and I hope to hear from many of you as this process is rolled out. You can always contact me by phone or email. Until then, “my heart wants to sing every song it hears.”

Find a Wealth of Captive Education – And Networking – at VCIA’s Last Captive Roadshow of 2022 in New York City

A chill is in the air here in Vermont and autumn officially arrived yesterday. Time to get on boots and your long sleeve plaids! And after doing a deep dive on the results of our annual conference, we shift attention to Gotham – New York City – where Janice Valgoi and I host a cadre of experts who will answer your questions and point you in the right direction on how to properly form, manage, and serve a captive. Do you miss the buzz from our conference? Then catch it again in the Big Apple.

When: October 26th from 1-5:45pm.

Where: The beautiful EY US Headquarters. That’s 1 Manhattan West, 395 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001.

Why: An easy one: to see me. Or if you’re not keen on me regaling you about rugby or motorcycles, earn CPE/VT CLE credit, get your questions answered by the industry giants like Sandy Bigglestone, learn a step-by-step blueprint for captive success, and simply be in the room with high-powered captive players.

Where captive dreams are made

What: We break down the afternoon into three parts: 1) An overview of captives and their formations, and how to find a supportive domicile for your captive. Brittany Nevins and The State of Vermont will provide information in this respect. 2) Captive Success Stories. What makes a captive successful and how do you reach your captive goals? Dianne Salter, President of Mountain Laurel Risk Retention Group, will share specific facts and experiences that helped give shape to the high value of her captive. (There are many more erudite captive minds who will be speaking in Parts I and II. See below! 3) Networking Reception: Build relationships and find opportunities in the City That Never Sleeps. And be sure to find me and say hello!

Who: EY is generously providing the space and is a sponsor of the Roadshow, along with The State of Vermont, AM Best, and Marsh Captive Solutions. For the Roadshow speakers, VCIA, as always, presents a stellar lineup of seasoned professionals who have decades of experience to impart to you. I personally want to thank EY’s Mikhail Raybshteyn and Jim Bulkowski for working with us to put on this fruitful event.

How: By registering via this link!

Join us for a high-powered Roadshow in the heart of Manhattan

See you folks a few days before Halloween. I cannot confirm or deny I will be in costume. 🎃

Your Perspectives of #VCIA2022

I finally came around to writing that personal $100 donation check to ICCIE. It’s in honor of A.I. Insurance’s Cameron MacArthur, who guessed the closest number to the #VCIA2022 attendee count, 986! I also want to acknowledge our friend George Levine of KPMG. He correctly answered all staff trivia at the conference and won the $50 Vermont Flannel Company gift card. We went through several wrong submissions before coming up with George’s! I hope George found something to clad himself in for the New England autumn. For the rest of the blog, I want to give it over to you, the fine folks that made #VCIA2022 a complete success. VCIA staff closely read over your post conference feedback, and we’ve already identified areas that we can improve on for next year. We also appreciate the support and gratitude, as we went all in to make it possible. So without further ado, here are some comments that really made us smile. (As a side note, if you haven’t filled out the conference survey and would still like to, get in touch with Francis at fmcgill@vcia.com)

Job well done, VCIA!  That was an incredible conference and I think anyone that attended would agree, you are clearly the best.

Thank you for all your, and your team’s efforts in putting this together. Excited to be here (1st-timer)!

The best organized conference I’ve attended. Keep it up!

A phenomenal opportunity for a young professional in the captive industry to become more integrated in the community at large!

I love VCIA! It truly is where the captive world comes to meet. Anyone doing captives is here so it’s a must-go.

The best US conference to attend.

Professional sessions with strong attendance of key players in the captive space.

Everyone’s willing to make new contacts and build out their networks at VCIA!

Excellent information from thought leaders in the captive industry.

Vermont Conference is the best.

Best in class!

The people and the good times make this a great conference.

The staff at VCIA is very supportive and helps make it one of the best conferences of the year.

At VCIA all attendees genuinely want others to have a positive experience.

If you do anything related to captive insurance, you have to come to VCIA. Simple as that!

Collaboration and Innovation at #VCIA2022

From our planning committees and design process for #VCIA2022, two major themes emerged that we have cultivated and set to be front and center when the captive world comes to meet in Burlington August 8-11th (and coming quite soon, I may add!). We’ve had endless conversations with different key players and organizations in the captive industry and they identified these same elements that have been sorely lacking during the remote days of the pandemic. The big #VCIA2022 themes are: collaboration and innovation.

What is collaboration and why is it important? To me, it’s the exercise of bringing different perspectives and experiences together to solve an industry challenge or open up a pathway for new opportunity. Collaboration will take shape through conference educational sessions, and especially so with #VCIA2022 Discussion Groups. There are 7 Discussion Groups led by outstanding individuals who not only know their material, but are passionate about it. These will be engaging, back-and-forth discussions, with an emphasis on inclusivity and openness to making things work. That’s what collaboration is all about. See our LinkedIn posting below for more info!

Innovation–the Latin root of which comes from innovare for renew, or to make new–will be demonstrated by over 70 exhibitors at #VCIA2022. Whether it’s a new product or a reliable service, you’re bound to connect with companies that have come from all over the country to show you how they can help move your business forward. I’m personally excited for the conference opening reception, taking place in the exhibit hall at 4:30pm on August 9th. This will be the time to hear about the latest developments, to catch up with colleagues, make new connections, and get creative answers from a swath of talented people. Check out our exhibitor map below and make notes on who you want to see!

We’ve also built innovation into the conference through special Ignite Talks. Only in its second year, Ignite Talks are VCIA’s opportunity for the industry to distill important topics into a condensed and compelling presentation akin to the very popular TED Talks TM. The VCIA Ignite Talks are delivered by some of the finest captive minds we know and these bright folks will impart valuable knowledge relating to the captive insurance community. They serve as a platform to problem solve an issue or unpack a complex facet of the captive industry. This presentation model works precisely because it is time limited and keeps the audience’s attention with messaging that resonates. Plenty of time is reserved for a Q&A session to ensure your team directly engages with conference attendees. The Ignite Talks will take place at the Ignite Stage in the Exhibit Hall and the Amphitheater. Be sure to save some time to stop by one of these exciting talks and check out our incredible lineup!

24 days until #VCIA2022 week begins and we innovate and collaborate industry-wide! Be sure to share our registration page with colleagues/friends/other businesses who should be attending that haven’t signed up yet!

Remembering Captive Industry Stalwart Andy Sargeant

Ordinarily, my blog posts all somewhat upbeat and (to me at least) somewhat amusing. This is not to be one of those weeks. Because this week, the VCIA, the Vermont captive industry and indeed the captive community globally is marking the passing of Andy Sargeant, formerly of USA Risk Management.  Andy’s retirement predates my arrival here at the VCIA and so I have to leave it to his good friend, Gary Osborne, to remark, “He was a great friend to our community and especially the Vermont community where he added his expertise and knowledge to both the VCIA and ICCIE boards.” Gary goes onto say that Andy was, “one of those rare things – a well-liked and loved boss.” Vermont’s Seven Days newspaper ran a very touching obituary of Andy, and you can find it here.

Andy, you’ll be missed dearly

Please look for a more extensive tribute to Andy in our August newsletter. More importantly, please hold Andy, his family and all those that cherished his friendship in your thoughts at this sad time.

#VCIA2022 Keynotes To Give a Global View of Things

With our early bird period in the rearview, and 700 and counting registrants (!) , we gear up for one more month of celebrating all things #VCIA2022, before our flagship event takes center stage of the captive world in August. By now, you know how important the networking and educational sessions will be. Let me turn your attention to why our two worldly #VCIA2022 keynotes are worth your price of admission. For both history buffs and people interested in politics and economics…we have you covered!

History maker Admiral Michelle Howard will be at the VCIA Conference

First, let’s start with our Special Keynote Speaker who will be closing out #VCIA2022 on Thursday August 11th with an inspiring speech and luncheon. US Navy Admiral Michelle Howard has not only commanded ships at sea but also a deep respect from all branches of the military. She’s a groundbreaking leader who has seen it all, enjoying a distinguished career in national defense within the areas of operations, readiness, and strategic planning.

What stories can she tell? Plenty! A veteran of operations that included NATO peacekeeping, Indonesia tsunami relief, Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, she was thrust into the international spotlight in 2009 as leader of the counter-piracy task force that rescued civilian Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates!

Hear from her a preview of what she’ll be talking about in her keynote address.

Her keynotes address leadership, cybersecurity, diversity, innovation and team building. To each, she lends experience gained from three decades on the front lines and highest levels of national defense. Bringing the empowering insights of an African-American woman who spent her career shattering glass ceilings and breaking new ground, she continues to motivate others with her highly inspirational presence.

This is what you’ll Get at #VCIA2022!

Next to an iconic military figure, The VCIA Conference has paired a geopolitical whiz as the second keynote speaker. Michael Weidokal, an internationally-recognized economic and geopolitical forecaster who helps business leaders and policy makers comprehend the issues and trends that are impacting the world today AND tomorrow, addresses #VCIA2022 attendees on Tuesday August 9th at 3:45pm.

Michael is the president and founder of International Strategic Analysis (ISA), a leading provider of economic forecasting, international market intelligence and geopolitical analysis with clients all around the globe. ISA is one of the world’s most respected economic and geopolitical research firms, providing research and support for thousands of the world’s leading businesses, governments and universities. Get a glimpse of what he will share at our conference below!

Michael’s ability to combine international economics, geopolitics and history allow him to have a unique perspective on the issues and events that are taking place throughout the world. His areas of expertise include the fields of international economic competitiveness, global market selection and geopolitical risk assessment. Furthermore, he has repeatedly proven to be able to accurately predict important trends and developments before they happen.

Get the Intel from Experts like Michael at #VCIA2022!
Happy Fourth of July!

Have a wonderful, long Independence Day weekend, everyone. Can’t believe we’re basically just a month out from our dynamic captive conference. Thank you to everyone who has worked hard to put it together and additionally to everyone has registered so far. We couldn’t do this without you. P.S👉 registration link for folks that missed the early bird bus. It’s still a great deal! And don’t forget to sign up for our golf tournament!

Young Professionals, Come to #VCIA2022 and Benefit!

As registrations for the VCIA’s August 2022 Conference climb, I am hearing feedback from members and non-members alike as to how pleased they are to be able to get back together again. In particular, there’s another large group that we are looking forward to seeing and serving at the event—the next generation of captive professionals. Here’s my pitch as to why they should come to #VCIA2022

Since our last in-person conference back in 2019, there’s been a considerable number of new entrants to the professions around the captive industry. Additionally, there is also a group that at that stage was early in their careers and have had limited in person networking opportunities. I am particularly interested in visiting with folks in these two groups— finding out what interests them, what they want to learn, and how our association can support them—because they broadly represent the future of the industry and of the VCIA.

A passionate advocate for captive careers and injecting the industry with youth and creativity, Brittany Nevins, the State of Vermont’s Captive Insurance Economic Development Director, thinks the VCIA Conference recognizes the importance of catering to a larger, newer base of professionals in our self-insurance industry. “There is a shift happening across the industry to intentionally focus more on bringing people into the captive industry as a career path. This shift in focus is visible throughout the VCIA Conference in various educational and networking opportunities. New professionals have more opportunities to speak on panels and share their unique and diverse perspectives, to ask one another how we can be more supportive, and how veterans in the industry can create opportunity. There’s much work to be done but it’s clear that this is a priority for the VCIA.”

There is a shift happening across the industry to intentionally focus more on bringing people into the captive industry as a career path. This shift in focus is visible throughout the VCIA Conference in various educational and networking opportunities

Brittany Nevins, Vermont’s Captive Insurance Economic Development Director

The carefully curated content of #VCIA2022 makes for strong professional development opportunities for young and new captive companies and employees. Captive Immersion on Monday 8/8 is a comprehensive program on the basics of the industry. There’s also Captive 101 the next day as well as a number of sessions categorized as “beginner” level that would be appropriate and beneficial to someone with limited experience under their belt.

Besides the important content for young professionals, there’s also the credit. In one place, you can earn numerous CPE credits and boost your value to your company. And as I mentioned above, networking—actually establishing relationships, face to face, with different people in all kinds of captive roles—is invaluable and has been sorely lacking these last few years. #VCIA2022 plans to fix that from the moment you arrive in Burlington.

At the cocktail reception for Captive Immersion, you can connect with some industry leaders and VCIA Board members. On Tuesday, check in at the Newcomers Orientation and a Conference Ambassador can give you tips on how to leverage your time at the conference. Then there’s the opening reception in the Exhibit Hall where everyone will be kicking off the week in good spirits. You can also participate in networking lunches and there’s plenty of space at the conference to set up private meetings. Finally, our evening reception at the snazzy Hotel Vermont will be special. It’s a farewell tribute to Dave Provost and anybody and everybody in the captive industry will be there.

So for young professionals, we want to make sure that you get the most out of the upcoming conference. Please seek out myself, other staff members and the VCIA board members and let us know how the event and the association can be more relevant to you as you grow within the industry. Many of you will attend with colleagues, but this is just a gentle hint to suggest that you step away from the people that you know and use the conference as your first and best opportunity to meet with and build relationships with others in the industry.

The VCIA Conference is helping usher in the next generation of captive professionals. We hope to see you in August

I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at the conference, and to hearing your aspirations for your career!

If you haven’t registered for the conference yet, you can do so here. And don’t forget to book your lodging and airfare, too!

The Wise Triumvirate: Janice Valgoi, Peggy Companion, Diane Leach advancing VCIA’s mission and strengthening the captive 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

Janice in her happy place on Lake Champlain

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

Peggy enjoying the view

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

Diane on the trail

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.”

I consider VCIA as my third child. And every year that child gets married again and I get to plan a large wedding to celebrate.

VCIA Director of Education Diane Leach

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.”

The Wise Triumvirate Shaping VCIA for the Better

A Captive Industry Icon Announces His Retirement

The State of Vermont’s Deputy Commissioner of the Captive Insurance Division is hanging up his gloves. Dave Provost leaves a permanent print on the robust infrastructure for domiciled captives in the Green Mountain State.

This week Vermont Captive Insurance set the captive world abuzz with a press release announcing Dave Provost’s retirement at the end of the summer. The Governor of Vermont Phil Scott could not sing Dave’s praise any higher by thanking him for “his immeasurable contribution to Vermonters and businesses around the world.” The Governor did pledge as well that Dave’s replacement would build on the “Gold Standard” for captives that Dave has helped create.

If you’ve been on the fence for registering for The VCIA Annual Conference August 8-11 in Burlington, Vermont, Dave’s news should get you over to attend. The conference will be a celebration of sorts for his career, and of course his insights during his “Hot Topics” on the last day of the conference is now simply a must see. Access Conference Registration here.

Mr. Captive himself, Dave Provost. Catch his last “Hot Topics” session at our Annual Conference this year.

I’m only three months on the job as VCIA’s President, and so it makes sense that I should be at the end of the line when it comes to reflecting on Dave Provost’s remarkable captive career. Nevertheless, as short as our relationship has been, we do make for a quick repartee pairing; it was only this Wednesday, during VCIA’s Spring Mixer, that Dave Provost shared his retirement news to the crowd. He was also quick to point out that I’m hitting my 100th day soon and that means my honeymoon phase will come to a firm end. This is true: Dave always has a joke in pocket.

The moment I met Vermont’s chief captive regulator it was instantly clear that his insights, approachable nature, and dedication to improving the captive industry are held in highest esteem and are things he deeply cares about. Dave Provost’s captive knowledge and technical and managerial skillsets will be major loses to recover, but it’s his dry wit and deadpan personality that most of us will miss just as much, if not more.

Dave Provost’s insights, approachable nature, and dedication to improving the captive industry are held in highest esteem and are things he deeply cares about.

Dave and some of his team in Vermont’s Senate Chamber

Dave achieved a lifetime of captive accomplishments during his 30 years of experience in the industry. He leaves the captive sector in Vermont (and beyond) larger, stronger and more visible than when he started. The VCIA, and indeed the whole captive insurance industry will miss Dave’s shrewd perspective, his fairness and his desire for effective and speedy advice and decisions. But mostly, the whole sector will just miss Dave. VCIA is honored to have his presence in his official capacity as Vermont’s chief captive regulator once last time this August. Let us toast to Dave!

Summer Conference Registration Opens!

Meticulously planning, securing keynotes and hammering out the schedule, we’ve waited all year for this and now the “gates are opened” for our first in-person conference in three years. We can’t wait to gather with the captive industry’s best and brightest this August in Burlington.

Our 2022 Conference is sure to be a memorable one!

We’re officially launched! Please visit our conference registration page to sign up for the biggest and strongest captive insurance event this summer on the global calendar. No matter your experience level, you will find so much in our conference that will develop you professionally and advance your career. We have a full slate of dynamic educational sessions, curated networking and benchmarking events, and an environment conducive for making business deals. Simply put, you are sure to add to you captive knowledge at the 2022 VCIA Conference, and more than that, it will be a triumphant celebration of the captive industry at large. Be sure to follow the #VCIA2022 hashtag on Twitter and LinkedIn.

I should mention (before I enlist you in another conference prize opportunity!) that I highly recommend booking your hotel and travel flight plans as soon as possible in order to avoid any complications. There are rooms still available at the VCIA group rate, but they are going fast, so head to our conference lodging page and be directed to local hotels who carry our group rate.

I’m a horse racing fan and I enjoy placing some modest bets down when I’m at the track. In that spirit, we are expecting a banner year, and as insurance professionals you are all concerned with risk and the odds that something might or might not occur. So, I introduce you to the VCIA version of ‘How Many Jelly Beans are in the Jar?’  I believe that our total attendance count will be 1,048. Are you taking that over or under? My guess includes exhibitors, staff and all classifications of attendees – i.e. anyone with a name badge! Let me know your number, and if I’m the closest, I will make a $50 personal donation to ICCIE (www.iccie.org), the captive insurance industry’s educational non-profit.  If someone beats me, I will make a $100 donation in their name!  We will, of course, also recognize the best prognosticator! Send your guesses to kmead@vcia.com

Need a little help to formulate your guess? Check out our Conference Attendee page to see who has already registered!

How many people will be in attendance at our conference? Take a guess and email Kevin!

See you in August – if not before!