Happy 2023! Let’s Look Ahead with VCIA

Early in the new year seems to be a good time for predictions. Even though my abilities in prognostication may be somewhat limited, I can fall on the guidance and opinions of others to develop some ideas related to both the VCIA and the Captive industry as a whole that might stand a fighting chance of becoming reality.

Firstly, Marsh’s Ellen Charnley, speaking to Richard Cutcher in Captive Intelligence predicted that the just-closing 2022 would be another record year for captive formations, and that this growth, while still being driven by North America, is also global.  Certainly, that mirrors what we have seen in Vermont, with 2022 likely to deliver another year of over 40 formations.  And it seems like the pace is not slowing – owners seem to be seeking a number of things.

  • Speed to market
  • Innovation
  • Stability and reliability

Within the broader insurance market ratings agency, Fitch sees headwinds from inflation and a potentially weakening economy as factors driving a neutral overall assessment.  This was echoed by Swiss Re in their market outlook for 2023/24, in which they suggested that this volatility could cause “rate hardening to regain momentum.”  And while standard wisdom is that a hardening market assists captive growth, this could be tempered by an overall economic slowing.  The opinions of Swiss Re are at slight variance with those of WTW, who comment that “commercial insurance rates (are) rising at a moderating rate.”

Predicting for the VCIA is perhaps a little easier!  Staff and the Conference Task Force are already deep into planning the 2023 VCIA Conference, building on the success of a return to in-person last year.  We will take our first trade mission to Mexico on March 1st, as we seek to support and develop an increasingly sophisticated and growing market there.  A dynamic and involved Board will continue to challenge and inspire us to develop and deliver value for members.

The captive industry has a long history of responding to the needs of clients and potential clients through innovation. Vermont and the VCIA are a part of that, and we look forward to being able to deliver in 2023 and beyond. There are many ways to get involved, and I personally hope you do so with us this year.

Photo Blog of VCIA’s Holiday Mixer!

VCIA Members had blast last night at ECHO Science Museum and Aquarium, right on the Lake Champlain Waterfront with views of the Adirondack Mountains! Great festive atmosphere with personal and captive catch ups interspersed. Thanks for everyone who came out!

Welcome!
Can you guess the fish?
Members could roam freely around the museum!
Thank you Aon! Glad we saw so many of you at the mixer
A happy crowd
Great to see everyone!
Happy faces all around!
VCIA President Kevin Mead was mixing and mingling with all members
A great turnout of young professionals and captive veterans!
Thanks for hosting ECHO!

VCIA Goes Global

 After a brief break for the Thanksgiving holiday, we’re back to review Vermont’s renewed focus on business not only beyond state borders, but also outside of the US. 

The Vermont team at the European Captive Forum

Just before the Thanksgiving break, a Vermont delegation led by the DFR’s Sandy Bigglestone and including myself and Brittany Nevins as well as representatives from the Vermont professional provider community were present in Luxembourg for the European Captive Forum.  At the awards dinner we were naturally delighted to be named as the international domicile of the year, and beyond that we worked on building and establishing relationships across the captive industry in the EU, broader Europe and beyond.  With companies from outside of the US seeking to explore alternative risk management strategies for the US and Americas holdings, this was a great time for us to present Vermont and our preparedness to work with global business to a broader audience.

Historical landmark National Palace building at Plaza de la Constitucion in Mexico City, Mexico.

Looking forward into 2023, we are building on the international theme as our COVID-delayed roadshow goes to Mexico City on March 1st.  In addition to the roadshow, we are holding multiple meetings with the business, financial and insurance sectors within Mexico as the roadshow expands into a full-blown trade mission. The current lineup of speakers is found below, and Mexican business professionals as well as VCIA members are invited free of charge to this special event. (To register, send your name, title, and contact information to Sylvia.Montano@trade.gov. For questions reach out to Janice Valgoi at janice@vcia.com)

A great coming together of captive minds happens at the VCIA-Mexico Trade Mission, March 1 2023

Vermont already has Mexican companies domiciling their captives here, and as that market both grows and becomes more sophisticated, Vermont is ready to be the domicile of choice for Mexican business. 

Fun fact time – what do Thomas’s English muffins, Lender’s Bagels, CEMEX and Promised Land Dairy have in common – yup, Mexican owned!  Mexico has an economy of $1,150B according to the IMF, making it globally #15, so ahead of Spain, Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands.  For these reasons and many others, Vermont and the VCIA is working to ensure that enterprises in this expanding economy have access to well- regulated and effective risk management tools.

As the year comes to a close, VCIA – its staff, Board members and stakeholders – reflect on where we are and where we are going. I’m confident an emerging theme that will continue to surface in 2023 and beyond is our global reach and how we can serve our worldwide members.

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!