The 2019 Finance Power Brokers

Shane Hogan
Senior Vice President
Aon, New York

Shane Hogan, Senior Vice President, Aon

When you win an RFP to handle the insurance work for one of the largest insurance companies in the world, you know you’re doing something right.

Aon’s Shane Hogan is doing more than a few things right.

For the major insurer, he was able to lower its Total Cost of Risk (TCOR) while maintaining its breadth of coverage. He and his team pulled this off in a period of transition, as the company’s primary underwriter was undergoing an important staffing change.

“Shane Hogan is a Power Broker!” said an executive with the commercial carrier client.

“He keeps a line of communication open which is not limited to the insurance placement window; follows up in a timely manner on all communications, asks for feedback on himself, the team, and the brokerage house and then makes adjustments,” the client said.

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For a personal lines insurer, Hogan navigated the handling of a very large claim, garnering advanced payments for the carrier while working hand in hand with his client to finalize the rest of the claims.

“Shane understands our business and our priorities – in our experience, far better than other insurance agents/brokers with whom we’ve dealt with,” said another client.

“Shane has consistently been able to provide insurance solutions that fit our business needs. Year over year we’ve been able to maintain our coverage and retention levels with acceptable premium increases,” the client said.

Jennifer Hustwitt
Vice President
Marsh, Los Angeles

Jennifer Hustwitt, Vice President, Marsh

One of Jennifer Hustwitt’s clients, KNØX Industries Inc., is an institutional-grade security platform for the storage of digital assets, which has developed proprietary hardware and software to establish new standards of security for cryptocurrency holdings.

Throughout much of last year, the specie insurance market at Lloyd’s has started to underwrite and retain the “offline” and “physical” aspects of the storage of digital assets, but they have not been as willing to address the network security components of digital asset storage systems.

Hustwitt identified and sourced a third-party security firm to support the Lloyd’s underwriting. In addition, she facilitated a process to write new, custom insurance policy language and also secured agreement and support from management at Lloyd’s to improve the overall process underwriting of digital assets.

“Jennifer Hustwitt is an amazing broker and thought leader within the cryptocurrency insurance marketplace,” said Jerry Chien, KNØX’s managing director, head of risk. Before KNØX started working with Hustwitt, the maximum amount of insurance coverage the company was able to access was $60 million, Chien said. But with Hustwitt, KNØX has identified a pathway to as much as $1 billion in possible coverage.

“This has provided us with an incredible competitive advantage, allowing us to offer our customers the most comprehensive and cost-efficient insurance coverage in the cryptocurrency marketplace,” he said.

Kevin Kirby
Associate Director
Willis Towers Watson, New York

Kevin Kirby, Associate Director, Willis Towers Watson

Kevin Kirby has a broad portfolio of clients including asset managers, banks, insurance companies and broker/dealers.

Having worked as a financial institutions underwriter at AIG for several years prior to becoming a broker, Kirby understands and appreciates the different sides of the brokerage business.

His expertise has served his clients well: Kirby has standardized Willis Towers Watson’s suite of client documents including renewal strategy templates, quote proposals and evidence of coverage letters tailored to the needs and expectations of financial institution clients.

Moreover, he constantly builds out the brokerage firm’s proprietary benchmarking databases across all financial institution industry subsets, which now include purchasing information on more than 400 peers.

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He has been proactive at establishing internal policies and programs to ensure that all of the firm’s brokers have access to the best possible resources, including proprietary benchmarking tools covering each of the financial institution’s industry subsets.

Kirby serves as the financial institutions liaison with Willis Towers Watson’s internal risk and analytics group to fine-tune its modeling tools. He also provides training on presentation skills and best practices, alongside standardized templates to ensure consistency across the global team.

“Kevin Kirby is a superior broker,” said the head of product management at one client investment company.

John McCall
Senior Vice President
Aon, San Francisco

John McCall, Senior Vice President, Aon

John McCall often goes above and beyond for his clients.

“John makes extra efforts to arrange face-to-face meetings with the insurance underwriters so they can better understand our risks and how we manage the risks,” said Rahul Agarwal, CIFC Asset Management’s CFO. “This has been very helpful in getting the underwriters comfortable with the risk, enabling us to reduce insurance costs.”

A private equity firm client said McCall has led the effort on the professional liability insurance lines for a number of its businesses in the specialty finance, trust and custody, and wealth management sectors.

“John and his team have done a fantastic job delivering cost-effective structures while at the same time providing higher limits, competitive retentions and broader coverage than were previously in place,” the client said.

McCall “always does a good job,” said Susan Stuhr, managing director of corporate insurance at Charles Schwab.

“Our board hired a law firm to review the policies, and John was able to get what the attorney needed — but he was also able to push back on things that totally did not make sense, because [he] knows those coverage grants inside and out.

“It was all handled very well in a non-contentious manner, as he is the consummate professional while remaining personable and approachable,” Stuhr said.

Thomas Shashaty
Account Executive
Alliant, New York

Thomas Shashaty, Account Executive, Alliant

A financial services company approached Thomas Shashaty to determine if he could help them place the right insurance programs for all of its moving parts; the firm was in the midst of acquiring a number of different types of companies — all with different risk profiles and insurance policies up for renewal.

In just two days, Shashaty presented an insurance solution that addressed coverage gaps, provided ideas on manuscripted policy language, listed the possible insurance carriers and provided ballpark pricing indications.

Alliant affiliate Crystal & Co. was designated the company’s new broker of record, and the following week, Shashaty was successful in securing the proposed insurance program for the entire organization — hitting all coverage and pricing targets.

Furthermore, Shashaty used data analytics to demonstrate potential areas of risk that needed to be addressed.

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“Tom’s extensive industry knowledge, level of services, professionalism and genuine care he provides to his clients should be epitomized,” said the controller of an alternative investment management firm.

“I appreciate Tom’s depth of knowledge and how he is able to explain things in an understandable way and how it relates to my business,” said the director of facilities management at a quantitative investment firm. “

He gives me examples of how the coverage would kick in in a situation like X. I’ve been using Tom for 16 years, and I have the option to change brokers at my discretion, but I’ve never had a reason to look anywhere else.”

Ben Zviti
Senior Vice President
Marsh, New York City

Ben Zviti, Senior Vice President, Marsh

Ben Zviti this year delivered a result for client Aegon “that will be hard to beat,” said Barry White, the company’s global insurance manager.

In what is a “very nascent market” for global cyber liability insurance programs, White set Zviti and his team some very significant targets: Not only to manage pricing but to also convert to a new primary policy wording that was easier to understand and broader in nature than what the company had in place.

“Ben managed the Marsh team and the relationship with the primary carrier in a fantastic fashion, providing great support to us as the client while also moving the market along with us to attain our goals,” White said.

Zviti, Marsh’s financial institutions cyber crime leader, arranged face-to-face market meetings in London, providing the Aegon team with “laser-like advice” on what types of information the underwriters needed to accept and price the risk.

“The policy wording process was exhaustive, with multiple iterations managed in an organized fashion by Ben and the Marsh team,” White said. “This was a tall challenge but Ben rose to the occasion and delivered a great result for us.”

Zviti gives “beyond superior service,” said another client, Trish Comiskey, vice president, risk management corporate insurance at Hancock Whitney Bank. “He has saved Hancock a significant amount of money, and he’s been able to enhance the terms and conditions in our cyber liability policy that we could never get before,” Comiskey said.

The complete list of 2019 Power Brokers® can be found here.

Finalists:

Michael Crown
Senior Vice President
Aon, San Francisco

Ryan Farnsworth
Senior Vice President
JLT Specialty USA, San Francisco

Ali Inan
Vice President
Aon, San Francisco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greg Longest
Senior Vice President
Marsh, Richmond, Va.

Alexander Minier, CPCU
Vice President
Aon, Boston

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

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]