The Institutes and the III Join Forces: Get Ready for an Insurance Resource Powerhouse
The joining together of two long-standing insurance education organizations this month represents a leap forward in the way the associations will be able to fulfill their missions, according to the leaders of both groups.
Sean Kevelighan, CEO of III, said the union is the result of years of discussions in which the boards of both organizations charged their CEOs to find ways to make the entrenched, somewhat competitive, world of insurance-related trade and education associations more transparent and efficient.
For Pete Miller, CEO of The Institutes, the deal marks yet another step in a years-long thrust to diversify The Institutes and boost its ability to create and distribute content to fill knowledge gaps in risk management and insurance.
He said the move is also in response to feedback from insurance executive board members who want to reduce insurance nonprofit membership costs by cutting down on service duplication where possible.
“These companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually on nonprofit memberships,” Miller said. “They don’t want duplication. If we can drive some costs out of this on the back end, it will help all of us.”
The Institutes, under Miller, has been putting the concept of consolidation and collaboration to work: The affiliation with the III is just the latest example of that.
In December 2019, The Institutes finalized the purchase of this magazine, Risk & Insurance®, as well as the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo, or National Comp, and the National Ergonomics Conference & ErgoExpo.
In January of this year, The Institutes closed a deal to acquire Insurance Thought Leadership and its “Six Things” newsletter. And in June of 2018, The Institutes picked up the industry group Claims and Litigation Management Alliance, which has its own annual conference, and the Claims Pages publication. The list goes on.
In joining forces with like-minded individuals, Kevelighan feels like he’s made the right move.
“I think Pete and Kate [Horowitz, The Institutes’ CAO] represent a passion for insurance and risk management. They’re dedicated to being honest and maintaining integrity in everything they do,” Kevelighan said.
“You can tell that they seem to care a lot about the people they serve,” he said. “They have a very strong culture.”
“At The Institutes we evaluate acquisitions and affiliations against many factors, with strategy and culture being the most critical,” said Horowitz.
“It is clear through continued discussions that we have found a strong match in both of these areas. There is no doubt in my mind that both organizations will be stronger together.”
In welcoming Kevelighan and the III, Miller says he and his team are keeping a sharp focus on the importance of being able to deliver a wider, deeper stream of content to The Institute’s constituency.
“This is part of an ongoing effort to provide knowledge in the manner and place of our customers’ choosing, and we continue to look for various ways to do that,” he said.
Before joining the III as CEO in 2016, Kevelighan served as global head of public affairs for Zurich. Prior to that, while overseeing North America Government and Industry Affairs, he represented Zurich on the III board. He said this experience gave him a front-row seat to how the III needed to change if it was going to thrive.
“The organization was based on membership assessment, and I saw a challenge in that model,” Kevelighan said. “For trade associations to have a sustainable model, they need to have a diversified portfolio of products.”
For his part, Kevelighan points to key changes he was able to undertake as the III CEO over the past four years. One was to make the III’s operations more efficient and transparent. Another was to develop a more engaged board.
More recently, and in a matter of two weeks’ time, III built a newly-branded campaign strategy that includes a microsite as well as earned and paid digital communications tactics.
Another initiative formed under Kevelighan’s watch is the Resilience Accelerator, an initiative to reduce the impact of extreme weather events on households and communities through invoking better use of insurance and other forms of risk management.
What Are the Upsides?
Now, with affiliation with The Institutes, Kevelighan sees even more opportunity for change and refinement.
To begin with, both the III and The Institutes possess lifespans measured in decades and are governed by board members representing a majority of the insurance premiums placed in this country. Both are well-established brands with solid foundations.
“This is part of an ongoing effort to provide knowledge in the manner and pace of our customer’s choosing, and we continue to look for various ways to do that.” — Pete Miller, CEO, The Institutes
The Institutes built its place in the world as a credentialing organization. Its CPCU and ARM are just two credentials — out of more than two dozen offerings — that pepper business resumes throughout the world.
Traditionally, the III has become known as an insurance research center and a go-to source for mainstream media journalists seeking better knowledge of the inner workings of the industry.
Its Joint Industry Forum, held in New York in January each year, features panels with top-level insurance executives discussing trending industry topics. It also maintains a significant presence in Washington, D.C., where it weighs in on policy matters affecting the industry.
Kevelighan admires the way Miller, a former computer programmer, and his colleagues have brought a focus on technology, data and analytics to support their mission. He says the III is bound to benefit from that approach.
Among a number of recent acquisitions and initiatives, The Institutes now houses a blockchain initiative, dubbed the RiskStream Collaborative, which is looking at ways to bring the power of blockchain to the industry at large.
Miller, in turn, points to Kevelighan’s strong communications background, not only with Zurich, but in a previous public affairs position with Citi, and further back, in a press secretary role in the White House Office of Management and Budget.
“I think Sean has a great communications ability,” Miller said. “He’s plugged into a lot of the regulators, and he also has a very good sense of how to create and articulate his vision.”
Miller added media relations and public affairs are places where The Institutes will benefit greatly from Kevelighan’s experience and input.
Both the III and The Institutes also pride themselves on being research-based organizations. Miller believes the existing research talent base at the Institutes can be value-added for the III as it moves forward in its mission to be a national resource for insurance industry information.
Those are just a few notes on the benefit side.
The Need for Evolution
Both Miller and Kevelighan point to the costs of membership in trade organizations, how many of them there are (more than 100). They say this profusion of nonprofits and associated costs weighs on the minds of insurance executives, especially those that work for publicly traded firms that have shareholders to answer to.
They said being sensitive to these costs and becoming more responsive partners to the insurance companies that populate their boards is of paramount importance.
“Industry CEOs are being challenged by their boards,” Kevelighan said.
“They have a number of organizations that they are managing their relationships with and these top executives need to make decisions about which organizations they are going to participate in and which ones they are going to drop,” he added.
“I came at this role understanding and appreciating that there needed to be better collaboration among the trades,” Kevelighan said.
Kevelighan tells the story of a well-known insurance CEO taking him aside and asking him to find ways to help the industry do less finger pointing and more hand holding.
Miller said his board has made it very clear to him that insurance carriers, vendors and brokers cannot support an ungainly number of insurance-related nonprofits. He said they want to see more efficiency and lower membership costs overall going forward. &
Legal note: The Institutes is a 501C3 and therefore exists to serve the public interest. The III is a 501C6 and can claim as its mission more specifically the advancement of the insurance industry and the education of consumers of insurance.