8 People on the Move

Key executive appointments across various segments of the insurance industry.
By: | April 4, 2019 • 6 min read

Industry Vet Joe Boren Joins Synapse Board

Synapse Services LLC announced the appointment of industry veteran Joseph Boren to its Executive Advisory Board.

Joe Boren, member, Executive Advisory Board, Synapse Services LLC

Boren brings more than 50 years’ insurance industry experience, holding numerous leadership and management positions, primarily devoted to the environmental industry.

Prior to this appointment, Boren served with Ironshore Inc. for eight years in various leadership roles.

As chairman of Ironshore Environmental, he launched the unit’s offerings of products and services, which addressed environmental incident and liability risks. In his role as president of U.S. Field Operations, he built out Ironshore’s national distribution platform that was responsible for the marketing of all Ironshore’s insurance products at a localized level.

Previously, Boren was with AIG from 1996 to 2009, where he initiated and ultimately built AIG Environmental into the largest environmental insurance carrier in the world. Under his progressive leadership as chairman and CEO of AIG Environmental, many environmental insurance executives received the technical foundation and professional development that prepared them for high-level management positions across the industry.

Boren also served as chairman of Riverkeeper, an environmental watchdog responsible for protecting the Hudson River. He is also an active board member of the New York City All-Stars Project Initiative, a national skills development program for inner city teenagers and young adults.

Jennifer King Joins Everest Insurance

Everest Insurance announced that Jennifer King  joined their Life Sciences team based in the company’s Boston office. King will have underwriting responsibility for the recently-launched Life Sciences multi-line package product.

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Andy Faber, head of Life Sciences, commented, “We could not be more pleased to have Jen join our Life Sciences team. With the recent launch of our multi-line product, we have combined Everest’s established workers’ compensation, auto and property capabilities packaged with our industry-leading life sciences products liability expertise. Jennifer is a proven package underwriter who will serve as a valuable member of our growing team.”

King has nearly a decade of industry experience, most recently working as an account executive within the global technology practice at Travelers. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Northeastern University.

Caitlin Crist Now Head of Claims for Coverys

Coverys Managing Agency Limited, the Lloyd’s managing agent of Syndicates 1975, 1991, 3330 and 1110, announced the appointment Caitlin Crist to the newly created role of head of claims of Coverys Syndicate 1975. She will take up her new role in June.

Crist brings over a decade of liability claims experience to Coverys.

She joins from Brit Global Specialty where, as a complex claims specialist, she was responsible for managing and adjusting complex casualty claims and providing U.S. legal advice on contentious issues. Prior to this, Crist served as an attorney with Fields Howell, LLP, where she provided coverage advice to and represented insurers in the U.S. federal and state courts.

“In a crowded market, Coverys has already begun to differentiate itself through the quality of its underwriting, data and approach to risk management. I am looking forward to adding claims to that list and developing a claims function, which sets the business apart from its peers,” Crist said.

Pat Meacham Named to Brokerage Board

The Starkweather & Shepley Insurance Brokerage elected Patrick Meacham to its board of directors.

Patrick Meacham, director, Starkweather & Shepley

Meacham, senior vice president of transportation risks solutions, has over 20 years of experience with S&S, providing comprehensive risk management and loss control solutions for the transportation industry and auto dealerships.

“I’m most appreciative and truly honored to be elected to the board of Starkweather & Shepley,” said Meachum.

“To be part of an organization that was founded 140 years ago and always evolving is not only meaningful and special to me, but a testament to our leadership’s commitment to perpetuation as we look ahead, always committed to our clients, colleagues and our community,” he added.

Meacham graduated from Johnson & Wales University with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

IMA Companies Promotes Luke Proctor to President, Mike Benson as CFO

The IMA Financial Group, Inc. announced the promotion of Luke Proctor to president of IMA Companies, a newly created position to oversee all IMA Financial Group subsidiaries, which generate nearly $170 million in revenue annually. Located in Wichita, Kan., he will report to IMA Financial Group chairman and CEO Robert Cohen. IMA Wichita president Kyle Orndorff will continue to lead his local team of nearly 200 associates.

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The companies under Proctor’s management include IMA, Inc., a retail insurance broker; IMA Select, a small-business and personal insurance broker; Towerstone, Inc., a wholesale insurance broker; Eydent Insurance Services, a managing general underwriting specializing in niche insurance solutions; CORnerstone Risk Solutions, an alternative risk services company; and IMA Wealth, an SEC-registered investment advisory firm.

Combined, the IMA Financial Group and its subsidiaries are the fifth-largest privately held and employee-owned insurance broker in the country.

“IMA is home and where I started my career,” said  Proctor, who joined IMA in 2003. “It’s where I’ve grown personally and professionally, and it’s an organization I intend to guide through its continued expansion.”

One internal measure of IMA success has been to outperform the industry growth rate. In 2018, IMA’s organic growth rate was 8.3 percent, which exceeded the industry average of 6.1 percent.

To help manage that leading growth, and to fill Proctor’s former position, is newly hired IMA chief financial officer Mike Benson, who will work in and return home to Denver. Possessing a broad background in finance and accounting, Benson previously held positions with KSE Sports & Entertainment in Denver and was most recently COO and CFO for GROUP360 out of St. Louis, Missouri.

Benson and Proctor will work with IMA, Inc. president Bob Reiter who will manage IMA, Inc. and lead a new endeavor for the company called Client X, a transformational service initiative to help fuel IMA’s growth.

“IMA’s long history as an insurance leader is a testament to the hard work and value our associates deliver to clients across the country,” Proctor said. “In my new position, I hope to strategically support their success and provide the necessary resources to advance their great work.”

Two Key Roles Filled at MEMIC

Amanda Roberts has been appointed to the role of director of financial reporting for The MEMIC Group, where she will oversee this workers’ compensation specialist’s financial forecasting, budgeting and general ledger reconciliation.

Roberts has more than 20 years’ experience in finance, accounting and audit roles. Prior to MEMIC, she worked as a nonprofit accounting and compliance consultant and as a senior director for United Way of Massachusetts Bay, Inc. in Boston.

Amanda Roberts
Director, Financial Reporting
MEMIC

She graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and later obtained her CPA. Active in the community, she served as treasurer and chair of the finance committee for Child Care Services of York County, ME.

In addition, Michael Michaud, has been appointed to director of IT infrastructure and will oversee MEMIC’s virtual and physical IT systems, storage, networking and communications platforms that are used to support business applications and services. Michaud will be responsible for the effective and efficient delivery of all third-party and internally managed IT infrastructure used to support all business processes across The MEMIC Group.

Michaud has more than 20 years’ experience in information technology roles. Prior to MEMIC, he worked as a director of platform services at MaineHealth/Maine Medical Center and as a senior director of information technology at Synernet MaineHealth.

Michaud is Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Foundations Certified. He has volunteered as an executive board member and coach for South Portland National Little League and is a FIFA-certified soccer referee.

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]

Exclusive | Hank Greenberg on China Trade, Starr’s Rapid Growth and 100th, Spitzer, Schneiderman and More

In a robust and frank conversation, the insurance legend provides unique insights into global trade, his past battles and what the future holds for the industry and his company.
By: | October 12, 2018 • 12 min read

In 1960, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg was hired as a vice president of C.V. Starr & Co. At age 35, he had already accomplished a great deal.

He served his country as part of the Allied Forces that stormed the beaches at Normandy and liberated the Nazi death camps. He fought again during the Korean War, earning a Bronze Star. He held a law degree from New York Law School.

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Now he was ready to make his mark on the business world.

Even C.V. Starr himself — who hired Mr. Greenberg and later hand-picked him as the successor to the company he founded in Shanghai in 1919 — could not have imagined what a mark it would be.

Mr. Greenberg began to build AIG as a Starr subsidiary, then in 1969, he took it public. The company would, at its peak, achieve a market cap of some $180 billion and cement its place as the largest insurance and financial services company in history.

This month, Mr. Greenberg travels to China to celebrate the 100th anniversary of C.V. Starr & Co. That visit occurs at a prickly time in U.S.-Sino relations, as the Trump administration levies tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese goods and China retaliates.

In September, Risk & Insurance® sat down with Mr. Greenberg in his Park Avenue office to hear his thoughts on the centennial of C.V. Starr, the dynamics of U.S. trade relationships with China and the future of the U.S. insurance industry as it faces the challenges of technology development and talent recruitment and retention, among many others. What follows is an edited transcript of that discussion.


R&I: One hundred years is quite an impressive milestone for any company. Celebrating the anniversary in China signifies the importance and longevity of that relationship. Can you tell us more about C.V. Starr’s history with China?

Hank Greenberg: We have a long history in China. I first went there in 1975. There was little there, but I had business throughout Asia, and I stopped there all the time. I’d stop there a couple of times a year and build relationships.

When I first started visiting China, there was only one state-owned insurance company there, PICC (the People’s Insurance Company of China); it was tiny at the time. We helped them to grow.

I also received the first foreign life insurance license in China, for AIA (The American International Assurance Co.). To date, there has been no other foreign life insurance company in China. It took me 20 years of hard work to get that license.

We also introduced an agency system in China. They had none. Their life company employees would get a salary whether they sold something or not. With the agency system of course you get paid a commission if you sell something. Once that agency system was installed, it went on to create more than a million jobs.

R&I: So Starr’s success has meant success for the Chinese insurance industry as well.

Hank Greenberg: That’s partly why we’re going to be celebrating that anniversary there next month. That celebration will occur alongside that of IBLAC (International Business Leaders’ Advisory Council), an international business advisory group that was put together when Zhu Rongji was the mayor of Shanghai [Zhu is since retired from public life]. He asked me to start that to attract foreign companies to invest in Shanghai.

“It turns out that it is harder [for China] to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

Shanghai and China in general were just coming out of the doldrums then; there was a lack of foreign investment. Zhu asked me to chair IBLAC and to help get it started, which I did. I served as chairman of that group for a couple of terms. I am still a part of that board, and it will be celebrating its 30th anniversary along with our 100th anniversary.

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We have a good relationship with China, and we’re candid as you can tell from the op-ed I published in the Wall Street Journal. I’m told that my op-ed was received quite well in China, by both Chinese companies and foreign companies doing business there.

On August 29, Mr. Greenberg published an opinion piece in the WSJ reminding Chinese leaders of the productive history of U.S.-Sino relations and suggesting that Chinese leaders take pragmatic steps to ease trade tensions with the U.S.

R&I: What’s your outlook on current trade relations between the U.S. and China?

Hank Greenberg: As to the current environment, when you are in negotiations, every leader negotiates differently.

President Trump is negotiating based on his well-known approach. What’s different now is that President Xi (Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China) made himself the emperor. All the past presidents in China before the revolution had two terms. He’s there for life, which makes things much more difficult.

R&I: Sure does. You’ve got a one- or two-term president talking to somebody who can wait it out. It’s definitely unique.

Hank Greenberg: So, clearly a lot of change is going on in China. Some of it is good. But as I said in the op-ed, China needs to be treated like the second largest economy in the world, which it is. And it will be the number one economy in the world in not too many years. That means that you can’t use the same terms of trade that you did 25 or 30 years ago.

They want to have access to our market and other markets. Fine, but you have to have reciprocity, and they have not been very good at that.

R&I: What stands in the way of that happening?

Hank Greenberg: I think there are several substantial challenges. One, their structure makes it very difficult. They have a senior official, a regulator, who runs a division within the government for insurance. He keeps that job as long as he does what leadership wants him to do. He may not be sure what they want him to do.

For example, the president made a speech many months ago saying they are going to open up banking, insurance and a couple of additional sectors to foreign investment; nothing happened.

The reason was that the head of that division got changed. A new administrator came in who was not sure what the president wanted so he did nothing. Time went on and the international community said, “Wait a minute, you promised that you were going to do that and you didn’t do that.”

So the structure is such that it is very difficult. China can’t react as fast as it should. That will change, but it is going to take time.

R&I: That’s interesting, because during the financial crisis in 2008 there was talk that China, given their more centralized authority, could react more quickly, not less quickly.

Hank Greenberg: It turns out that it is harder to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.

R&I: Obviously, you have a very unique perspective and experience in China. For American companies coming to China, what are some of the current challenges?

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Hank Greenberg: Well, they very much want to do business in China. That’s due to the sheer size of the country, at 1.4 billion people. It’s a very big market and not just for insurance companies. It’s a whole range of companies that would like to have access to China as easily as Chinese companies have access to the United States. As I said previously, that has to be resolved.

It’s not going to be easy, because China has a history of not being treated well by other countries. The U.S. has been pretty good in that way. We haven’t taken advantage of China.

R&I: Your op-ed was very enlightening on that topic.

Hank Greenberg: President Xi wants to rebuild the “middle kingdom,” to what China was, a great country. Part of that was his takeover of the South China Sea rock islands during the Obama Administration; we did nothing. It’s a little late now to try and do something. They promised they would never militarize those islands. Then they did. That’s a real problem in Southern Asia. The other countries in that region are not happy about that.

R&I: One thing that has differentiated your company is that it is not a public company, and it is not a mutual company. We think you’re the only large insurance company with that structure at that scale. What advantages does that give you?

Hank Greenberg: Two things. First of all, we’re more than an insurance company. We have the traditional investment unit with the insurance company. Then we have a separate investment unit that we started, which is very successful. So we have a source of income that is diverse. We don’t have to underwrite business that is going to lose a lot of money. Not knowingly anyway.

R&I: And that’s because you are a private company?

Hank Greenberg: Yes. We attract a different type of person in a private company.

R&I: Do you think that enables you to react more quickly?

Hank Greenberg: Absolutely. When we left AIG there were three of us. Myself, Howie Smith and Ed Matthews. Howie used to run the internal financials and Ed Matthews was the investment guy coming out of Morgan Stanley when I was putting AIG together. We started with three people and now we have 3,500 and growing.

“I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

R&I:  You being forced to leave AIG in 2005 really was an injustice, by the way. AIG wouldn’t have been in the position it was in 2008 if you had still been there.

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Hank Greenberg: Absolutely not. We had all the right things in place. We met with the financial services division once a day every day to make sure they stuck to what they were supposed to do. Even Hank Paulson, the Secretary of Treasury, sat on the stand during my trial and said that if I’d been at the company, it would not have imploded the way it did.

R&I: And that fateful decision the AIG board made really affected the course of the country.

Hank Greenberg: So many people lost all of their net worth. The new management was taking on billions of dollars’ worth of risk with no collateral. They had decimated the internal risk management controls. And the government takeover of the company when the financial crisis blew up was grossly unfair.

From the time it went public, AIG’s value had increased from $300 million to $180 billion. Thanks to Eliot Spitzer, it’s now worth a fraction of that. His was a gross misuse of the Martin Act. It gives the Attorney General the power to investigate without probable cause and bring fraud charges without having to prove intent. Only in New York does the law grant the AG that much power.

R&I: It’s especially frustrating when you consider the quality of his own character, and the scandal he was involved in.

In early 2008, Spitzer was caught on a federal wiretap arranging a meeting with a prostitute at a Washington Hotel and resigned shortly thereafter.

Hank Greenberg: Yes. And it’s been successive. Look at Eric Schneiderman. He resigned earlier this year when it came out that he had abused several women. And this was after he came out so strongly against other men accused of the same thing. To me it demonstrates hypocrisy and abuse of power.

Schneiderman followed in Spitzer’s footsteps in leveraging the Martin Act against numerous corporations to generate multi-billion dollar settlements.

R&I: Starr, however, continues to thrive. You said you’re at 3,500 people and still growing. As you continue to expand, how do you deal with the challenge of attracting talent?

Hank Greenberg: We did something last week.

On September 16th, St. John’s University announced the largest gift in its 148-year history. The Starr Foundation donated $15 million to the school, establishing the Maurice R. Greenberg Leadership Initiative at St. John’s School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science.

Hank Greenberg: We have recruited from St. John’s for many, many years. These are young people who want to be in the insurance industry. They don’t get into it by accident. They study to become proficient in this and we have recruited some very qualified individuals from that school. But we also recruit from many other universities. On the investment side, outside of the insurance industry, we also recruit from Wall Street.

R&I: We’re very interested in how you and other leaders in this industry view technology and how they’re going to use it.

Hank Greenberg: I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.

R&I: So as the pre-eminent leader of the insurance industry, what do you see in terms of where insurance is now and where it’s going?

Hank Greenberg: The country and the world will always need insurance. That doesn’t mean that what we have today is what we’re going to have 25 years from now.

How quickly the change comes and how far it will go will depend on individual companies and individual countries. Some will be more brave than others. But change will take place, there is no doubt about it.

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More will go on in space, there is no question about that. We’re involved in it right now as an insurance company, and it will get broader.

One of the things you have to worry about is it’s now a nuclear world. It’s a more dangerous world. And again, we have to find some way to deal with that.

So, change is inevitable. You need people who can deal with change.

R&I:  Is there anything else, Mr. Greenberg, you want to comment on?

Hank Greenberg: I think I’ve covered it. &

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]