Cross-ocean Group Continues to Help US-Based Specialists Navigate the London Market
Two years ago, a couple of dozen or so insurance professionals from the United States and London gathered in Wilmington, Delaware, to gauge interest in forming a group to drive greater interaction between decision makers on both sides of the pond. From that meeting came CHART (Cover Holders and Risk Takers) Exchange, which was designed to engage U.K.-based risk takers—Lloyd’s of London Syndicates—and current and potential U.S.-based coverholders—those who write business on behalf of those risk takers.
The group held its first event—dubbed the “Declaration of Inter-dependence”—in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the nation, in October 2015. Building on the success of that event, and following a subsequent planning meeting in January of 2016, CHART Exchange held its second annual summit in Baltimore a year later.
The 2016 event, themed “Constitutional Convention,” brought together nearly 300 professionals with the sole focus of strengthening and building new relationships between the two groups: U.S-based insurance professionals with a strong niche market presence, and underwriters or risk takers from London who could provide a stable insurance market for those programs.
“We couldn’t have been more pleased with the participation last year by folks from both the U.S. and London,” says Glenn Clark, CPCU, the driving force behind the formation of CHART Exchange. “And ‘participation’—not simply ‘attendance’—is the key word. Over the course of the three-day get-together, more than 400 pre-arranged meetings took place between London-based syndicates and insurance agency professionals from The States.”
It’s that engagement that Clark believes sets CHART Exchange apart from other groups. “People know, or quickly learn, that our approach is quite simple: Let’s help people get business done,” explains Clark, who describes himself as the “Earliest Adopter” of the CHART Exchange concept. “That’s true for our London risk takers, domestic coverholders and potential coverholders, and the hand-selected vendor partners that are part of the event.”
The meeting looked different from other meetings right from the start—or pre-start, if you will. The day before the official opening session took place was, perhaps, the busiest of the three-day program. It was
on this day that organizers blocked out 18 back-to-back 30-minute slots for one-on-one sessions.
“We set aside an entire day, from eight in the morning until five in the evening, for agents to connect with risk takers who could help them move their ideas forward,” Clark explains. “To get so much business done before the first official agenda item took place is pretty much unheard of in conferences like this.”
And it’s a big part of the value CHART Exchange delivers. “The 400-plus face-to-face meetings we set up have surfaced more than 20 immediate programs that hold strong potential,” Clark explains. “Plus, they’ve helped build a solid pipeline for the future, and that’s on top of all the new relationships that were formed.” That first day ended with an evening welcome reception.
The next day, Jim Masiello, founder, chairman and CEO of Strategic Insurance Agency Alliance (SIAA), provided an overview of his organization’s genesis and subsequent growth. SIAA is the nation’s largest independent insurance agency alliance. In introducing Masiello as keynote speaker, Clark drew parallels between SIAA and CHART Exchange. “Our business is about people,” he explained. “You don’t have success without helping other people.”
Clark added, “SIAA’s philosophy is, ‘We want our agencies to prosper. If they prosper, we prosper.’ That’s the same philosophy as CHART. We won’t get anywhere unless we give up something to get more. It’s that exchange mentality—give up something of value to get something of greater value. We have a brother in SIAA.”
Masiello, whom Rough Notes honored in 2016 with the Henry C. Martin Industry Achievement Award, explained that SIAA has 49 master agencies that support a network of 6,000 or so small independent agencies around the country. “We’re a niche operator,” he explained. “We focus on small commercial lines and personal lines.” More than half of SIAA agencies were captive or exclusive agencies that wanted to join the independent agency channel.
SIAA, Masiello notes, has consistently averaged north of 14% annual premium growth. How do they do it? “We focus on what we do best—namely, helping our member agencies succeed,” he said. “We don’t get focused on competition. We are our own competition.”
He added, “And we want success at all levels. That’s what a partnership is. And our master agency partners understand that.”
According to Masiello, effective use of automation helps drive success. “Agencies have to embrace technology and efficiency,” he explained. “Get into this century. We’re in an era where companies are starting to reduce commissions. It’s a matter of staying focused and understanding how to drive growth.”
Following Masiello’s talk, Clark offered a CHART “State of the Union” update and then opened the floor to individuals who would be presenting sessions during the event to share one-minute “elevator” speeches about their topic. He then hosted a brief “Match.com” minute, for agencies to talk about programs they’re building and shopping.
The bulk of the day’s agenda revolved around a series of 18 workshops, organized into three tracks: London; agency services; and agency models. Session topics included: agency integrator and network presentations; syndicate approaches; coverholderprocesses; mergers and acquisitions; advanced cyber technology and security; risk management services; social engineering and its impact on insurance; human capital and staff development; systems and controls; process automation; claims issues; and more. The event concluded with a half-day session that explored broker, vendor and other partner capabilities and offerings.
Read the full article, published in the February issue of Rough Notes