WSIA 2018

New at the 2018 WSIA Marketplace: Networking, Speakers and More

Packed with networking opportunities and timely education sessions, this year’s WSIA Annual Marketplace is sure to satisfy.
By: | August 30, 2018 • 3 min read

August 1 marked a special anniversary for the Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA): One year has passed since AAMGA and NAPSLO partnered to create WSIA, a member services organization servicing the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines industry.


And feedback has been “extremely positive,” according to WSIA’s president, Jacqueline Schaendorf.

“Our events have grown. Our education programs were combined, and we’ve hosted over a dozen education programs as the new organization,” she said. “We also approved 50 new members this past year.

“The surplus lines segment continues to be strong financially,” added Schaendorf. “We see more growth in the market, which generally translates to growth in the organization.”

WSIA saw firsthand how its organization impacted and fostered opportunity for its members at the 2017 WSIA Annual Marketplace, which was the debut event showcasing the newly-formed partnership. Brady Kelley, executive director of WSIA, believes this year will top the record high attendees of last year.

The 2018 WSIA Annual Marketplace will be held in Atlanta at the Marriott Marquis Atlanta and Hyatt Regency Atlanta from Sept. 23 to Sept. 26. All four days are packed with networking and learning opportunities, from education sessions organized by WSIA’s U40 group to panels of executive leaders in the industry.

U40-Led Sessions and Other Exciting Opportunities

“The Marketplace is the premiere event for the wholesale, specialty and surplus lines market,” said Schaendorf. “Our mission is to facilitate successful networking and business meetings among our membership and foster education.”

Brady Kelley, executive director, Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association

WSIA will do just that through offerings at its Annual Marketplace this year.

Of note, Kelley said, are the sessions organized by the U40 group made up of WSIA members age 40 and under. These individuals are recognized for their commitment to developing young talent for the surplus lines industry and engaging in the organization’s mission.

For the WSIA Annual Marketplace, the U40 group was tasked with finding top leaders and speakers in the industry and identifying education topics of interest.

“They all stand out,” Kelley said of the sessions planned. “The U40 group did an excellent job in choosing speakers and content relevant to the industry and to current events.”

“Insuring Political Violence and Active Shooter Situations,” presented by Paul Marshall of McGowan Program Administrators, will take place on Sept. 23, and cover how insurers can prepare and acquire resources for these unpredictable events.

WSIA’s U40 Education Session on Blockchain, held on Sept. 24 and featuring Srinivas Pulijala of Munich Re as a panelist, will answer the industry’s questions on blockchain and the role it can play in the surplus market.

“[The session] will answer how blockchain works and suggest solutions in securing insurance transaction data,” explained Kelley.

And on Sept. 25, WSIA’s U40 will host an Executive Panel made up of Joel Cavaness of RPS, Tim Stokes of Croton Stokes Wilson Holden, Tracy Wade of Maxum and Danielle Wade of Jackson Sumner & Associates.

“These are four strong, progressive speakers in key leadership roles,” said Kelley.

“AAMGA had a program specialist lounge, and we decided to bring it back for the Marketplace. We … thought adding it into the September conference would be equally beneficial.” — Brady Kelley, executive director, Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association

During the panel, these leaders will answer audience questions and discuss the future of the surplus lines market, the challenges and opportunities E&S professionals might encounter during the next several years and anecdotes from their own experiences as leaders and professionals, he explained.


Afterwards, said Kelley, the U40 group and the panelists are holding a reception for all WSIA attendees, where conference-goers can further explore the themes touched on during the panel discussion.

New this year will be an AAMGA favorite: a program specialist lounge.

“This is an idea that came out of the merger. AAMGA had a program specialist lounge, and we decided to bring it back for the Marketplace,” explained Kelley. “We hosted it back at the WSIA Summit in April and thought adding it into the September conference would be equally beneficial for our members dedicated to program business.”

It’s an opportunity for program administrators to have a dedicated network space to meet with program specialists.

Attendees can keep informed before the WSIA Annual Marketplace through WSIA’s webpage, where the organization gathers legal/regulatory updates relevant to the E&S market, as well as offering other education programs.

When at the conference, members can download a mobile app for further information, updated with maps of the Atlanta locale, details about sessions and daily news updates of the conference. &

Autumn Heisler is the digital producer and a staff writer at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

In the Fast-Paced World of Retail, This Risk Manager Strives to Mitigate Risks Proactively and Keep Senior Leaders Informed

Janine Kral works to identify and mitigate risks, building strong partnerships with leaders and ensuring they see her as support rather than a blocker. 
By: | October 29, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

My very first paid job was working on my uncle’s ranch in British Columbia in the summers. He had cattle, horses and grapes — an unusual combo. But my first real job out of college was as a multi-line claims adjuster at Liberty Mutual.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

Right out of college I applied for a job that turned out to be a claims adjuster at Liberty Mutual. I accepted because they were offering six weeks of training in Southern California, and at the time that sounded really fun. I spent about three years at Liberty Mutual and then I spent a short period of time at a smaller regional insurance company that hired me to start a workers’ compensation claims administration program.

I was hired at Nordstrom as the Washington Region Risk Manager, which was my first job in risk management. When I started at Nordstrom, the risk management department had about five people, and over the years it has grown to about 75. I’ve been vice president for 11 years.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

I would say that technology has probably been the biggest change. When I started many years ago, it was all paper and no RMIS.


R&I: What risks does the retail industry face that are unique?

We deal with a lot of people — employees and customers. With physical brick and mortar settings, there are the unique exposures with people moving in and out in a public environment. And of course, with ecommerce, we have a lot of customer and employee data, which creates cyber risk — which is not necessarily a unique risk in today’s environment.

R&I: Can you describe your approach to working with senior leaders and front-line staff alike to further risk management initiatives?

It starts with keeping the pulse of what’s happening with the business. Retail moves really fast. In order to identify and mitigate risks proactively, we identify top risk areas and topics, and then we ensure that we have strong partnerships with the leaders responsible for those areas. Trust is critical, ensuring that leaders see us as a support rather than a blocker.

R&I: What role does technology play in your company’s approach to risk management?

Janine Kral, claims adjuster, Nordstrom

We have an internal risk management information system that all of our locations report events into — every type of incident is reported, whether insured or uninsured. Most of these events are managed internally by risk management, and our guidelines require that prevention be analyzed on each one. Having all event data in one system allows us to use the data for trending and also helps us better predict what may happen in the future, and who we need to work with to mitigate risks.

R&I: What advice might you give to students or other aspiring risk managers?

My son is a sophomore in college, and I tell him and his friends all the time not to rule out insurance as a career opportunity. My advice is to cast a wide net and do your homework. Research all the different types of opportunities. Read a lot — articles, industry magazines, LinkedIn. Be proactive and reach out to people you find interesting and ask them about their careers. Don’t be shy and wait for people and opportunities to come to you. Ask questions. Build networks. Be curious and keep an open mind.

R&I: What are your goals for the next five to 10 years of your career?

I have always been passionate about continuous improvement. I want to continue to find ways to add value to my company and to this industry.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

My favorite book is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It’s a true story about a man who was in prison in Australia after being convicted of armed robbery, and he escaped to India. While in India, he passed himself off as a doctor in a slum. It’s a really interesting story, because this is a convicted criminal who ends up helping others. I am not always successful in getting others to read the book because it’s 1,000 pages and definitely a commitment.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

Fiorella’s in Newton, Massachusetts. Great Italian food and a great overall experience.


R&I: What is your favorite drink?

“Sister Carol.” I have no idea what is in it, and I can only get it at a local bar in Seattle. It’s green but it’s delicious.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

Skydiving. Not tandem and without any sort of communication from the ground. Scary standing on a wing of a plane, but very peaceful once the chute opened, slowly floating down by myself.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

I can’t think of one individual person. For me, the real heroes are people who have a positive attitude in the face of adversity. People who are resilient no matter what life brings them.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

It’s rewarding to help solve problems and help people. I am proud of the support that my team provides others. &

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]