Project CAP launched Agency 2020, a program to provide independent agencies with insights and resources to help them create and implement a broad vision for building an agency.

Each month during 2013, the Agency 2020 program will spotlight a key element of a successful independent agency while also providing resources free of charge to selected agencies from renowned industry service providers. One grand-prize winner will get multiple complimentary services, and additional agencies will be selected to receive single services. All independent agencies will benefit by following the progress of the spotlight agencies over the course of 2013, learning how optimizing that featured key strategic element can benefit their own businesses. 

All member agencies of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) are eligible to participate in the services. Agencies can enter by completing a brief application form at ProjectCAPMarketing.com/agency2020. The winning agencies will be selected during March by a panel of industry experts from the industry service providers. 

The Agency 2020 program and service delivery starts in April with a complimentary agency valuation and appraisal provided by Reagan Consulting, co-author of the IIABA Best Practices Study.

Each month, Agency 2020 will update all independent agencies about that month’s insights and service via Independent Agent magazine and ProjectCAPMarketing.com

Service areas and providers include: 

  • InVEST: Guidance on establishing school programs, and teaching materials and tools;
  • Caliper: Testing and skill evaluation for employees and prospective employees, including agents and sales consultants;
  • Big ‘I’ Young Agents Committee: Complimentary registration for Leadership Institute;
  • TrustedChoice: Co-branding review and update;
  • Oak & Associates: Business planning including producer compensation model and sales and marketing plan;
  • Project CAP: Marketing program;
  • WAHVE: Consulting on optimal staffing for the future and waiver of set-up fee for employee hire process;
  • MarshBerry: Perpetuation planning strategy session and comprehensive plan; 
  • InsurBanc: Financing consultation;
  • Aartrijk: Brand image assessment. 

Each service delivery will feature an informed, authoritative narrative on why and how that component can be integrated to create a more successful agency.

In other industry news:

AssuredPartners Inc. promoted Paul Vredenburg to the new role of executive vice president and chief acquisition officer. In his new position, Vredenburg will work to expand the AssuredPartners national footprint through strategic acquisitions of insurance agencies.

As executive vice president and chief acquisition officer, Vredenburg will work with organization leadership, insurance carriers, investment bankers and industry sources to identify potential agencies to become part of the AssuredPartners portfolio of insurance companies. He will develop specific transaction structures for each potential agency and see the acquisition process through to closing.

Previously, Vredenburg was the senior vice president – corporate development at AssuredPartners, and was responsible for the valuation of firms, developing transaction structures and overseeing the acquisition process. Vredenburg has more than 13 years of experience in the insurance industry. He attended the University of Notre Dame where he majored in Accountancy. He is a CPA and is an Accredited Advisor of Insurance. Vredenburg specializes in the valuation of insurance agencies and brokerages.

 

Ron Joelson and David P. Marks, CFA, joined Conning Holdings Corp.’s board of directors as independent directors. Both are respected industry veterans with careers that span more than 30 years.

Joelson, currently executive vice president and chief investment officer at Northwestern Mutual, brings to the Conning board of directors deep investment portfolio and risk management experience gained with international companies in the investment and insurance industries.

As CIO of Northwestern Mutual, Joelson manages the strategic direction for the firm’s $174 billion portfolio and its three main investment subsidiaries. His prior experience includes a similar role at life insurer Genworth Financial, where his major accomplishments included de-risking and strengthening the firm’s $75 billion portfolio. During his 23-year career at Prudential, he held a variety of roles culminating as senior vice president and chief investment officer managing a $230 billion general account, with oversight for international portfolio management and risk management. Joelson graduated in 1980 from Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., with a bachelor’s degree in economics and government. He received his MBA from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business in 1983.

Marks currently serves as executive vice president and chief investment officer for CUNA Mutual Group, has held multiple chief investment officer and senior investment positions with leading global insurers and also boutique investment firms responsible for enhancing their investment operations and managing sizeable, multi-billion dollar portfolios. As CIO for insurance and financial services firms including CUNA Mutual Group (since 2005), Travelers Insurance/Citi Group, CIGNA Investments and Allianz Investments, Marks has made significant contributions to implementing and strengthening firms’ risk management processes, performance benchmarks and operating procedures, as well as brought innovative investment approaches to the construction of $25 – $55 billion investment portfolios. This extends to the formation of Allianz’ US Investment Company he built in the 1990’s, as well as managing CIGNA Investments’ $40 billion portfolio as managing director and head of fixed income and asset management. He received his MBA, Finance, from the University of Connecticut, Conn., in 1971, after graduating from the same university with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and physics in 1969.

 

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans announced a new continuing professional education (CPE) requirement for all individuals holding the CEBS credential. The requirement applies to all graduates of both the United States and Canadian programs.

Each certified employee benefit specialist (CEBS) graduate will be required to meet 30 hours of continuing education credit every two years. The first reporting period spans the calendar years of 2013-2014.

“The CPE requirement will affirm the level of professionalism and ensures the CEBS designation remains relevant, competitive and viable in today’s marketplace,” said Michael Wilson, CEO of the International Foundation.

Provided the educational content is directly related to the elements of the CEBS curriculum, designees will have numerous options to fulfill the CPE requirement, including:

  • Attendance at educational programs;
  • Undergraduate or graduate coursework;
  • Courses take to earn or maintain other designation or licenses;
  • An annual update course/exam designed for CEBS graduates.

The Jacobson Group, a U.S.-based provider of talent to the insurance industry, and ejsSearch, a London-based insurance executive search firm, jointly announce a worldwide merger. The union creates an international search and staffing firm exclusively serving the insurance industry. 

“This is a merger of networks and expertise,” said Barbara Schönhofer, chief executive of ejs. “Our companies’ cultures, approach and commitment to client service are well-aligned, which will afford a seamless transition.”

Schönhofer will join The Jacobson Group’s executive management team as senior vice president and chief executive officer, global executive search. The merged companies will operate under The Jacobson Group brand with Greg Jacobson and Richard L. Jacobson continuing to serve as its co-chief executive officers.

The merger is expected to close during the second quarter of 2013.

 

Celent named Friends First as a ‘Model Insurer’ in its annual Model Insurer Report.  

Friends First Life Assurance Company (Friends First) won the award for its on time, within budget deployment of FINEOS Claims, a software platform for life, disability and accident compensation claims, which led to cost base savings through operational efficiencies and also enhanced customer service for the insurer. 

Friends First is one of Ireland’s most established Life Assurance companies with more than 200,000 customers in Ireland. Friends First is fully owned by the Dutch Insurance Group, Achmea, the largest provider of nonlife, health and income protection insurance products in the Netherlands and also provides life and pensions.

Celent is an analyst firm focusing on the application of information technology in the global insurance and financial services industry. The ‘Model Insurer’ Award winners are compiled in an industry report which recognizes the top global technology initiatives in the insurance industry over the past year.