2018 Power Broker

Nonprofit

Above and Beyond

Brandon Cole, CIC, CRM, CPCU, RPLU, ARM, CISR, CSRM, AINS
Area Vice President
Gallagher, Irvine, Calif.

Last year, KIPP NYC was asked to join a larger group insurance portfolio that offered significant savings — up to 30 percent — but they would have to change their coverage.

Katina Grays, managing director, data & operations, had a good relationship with her broker Brandon Cole and was transparent about the possibility of moving to a more cost-effective group insurance.

Cole knew he needed to get KIPP NYC an even more competitive rate than ever before.

“He truly wanted us on his portfolio and he worked to preserve our business,” said Grays.

“We were able to keep the levels of coverage we had for a lot less money.”

Cole uses that above-and-beyond approach with everything he does. Another client, Homeboy Industries, gives recently freed incarcerated men and women the opportunity to work and move on from the trauma of gang life.

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Their insurance needs change frequently, as they are constantly adding new enterprises to their portfolio.

“We do a number of fundraising events at some unusual venues as well,” said Jack Faherty, CFO.

“Brandon is extremely helpful. I see him as a critical business advisor.”

This year, Homeboy acquired a for-profit entity.

“It was a unique situation for us, because we are a nonprofit with nonprofit insurance. We had to ask, ‘How do we fold a for-profit into our nonprofit?’”

Brandon was there, “a true business confidante,” according to Faherty.

The Risk Manager’s Risk Manager

Joan Dove, CPCU
Area Executive Vice President
Gallagher, San Francisco

Joan Dove strives to make risk awareness a part of every client’s focus.

“Joan stepped in and educated me and my team,” said Henry Roth, CFO & VP of administration, Notre Dame De Namur University.

Recently, the university launched a multi-million-dollar construction project. Roth, while well-versed in risk management and insurance, was not fully up to speed on the nuances of construction and the insurance that comes with it.

Dove’s ability to come in and teach him was, to him, the ultimate sign of industry knowledge.

“It’s the trademark of a good teacher,” he said. And her teaching doesn’t stop there. She’s done presentations for various departments at the university, including one on transportation safety with the sports coaches.

“We’re a small account, but she makes us feel important.”

Kelley Maltais, VP of human resources, YMCA of the East Bay, said Dove also helped raise risk awareness, particularly when it came to worker safety.

“We have a safety issue,” said Maltais. “We have workers’ comp claims that come in weekly, and Joan knows we have to turn that around.”

That’s why Dove has been implementing annual safety and risk management training sessions.

“I really think she’s the broker of choice for the Y,” said Maltais.

Believing in the Client’s Mission

Adam Sammons, CIC
Account Executive
Marsh & McLennan Agency, Dallas

Johnny Gonzalez, operations director, The Village Church, oversaw the annual church trunk-or-treat event, which included bounce houses, rock walls and other like activities for the enjoyment of parishioners.

“We are a church of 12,000 people across five campuses. At any given event, we can have 500 or more people attending.”

Because the rock wall was new, Gonzalez turned to Adam Sammons to review their policy. Sammons quickly realized the insurance didn’t cover events of 500 people or more.

“Adam was able to get the terms and conditions changed last minute, and we were able to move forward with the event,” said Gonzalez.

Sarah Proctor, CFO for ACH Child & Family Services, said Sammons has “always attended to our insurance and risk management needs, but that has become only a small part of the total service and partnership he has provided for us.”

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ACH provides services for children who have been abused or neglected. The agency is working with the state of Texas to redefine its foster care system.

Sammons, said Proctor, is actively engaged in their overall mission and even volunteers for the agency outside of work.

“Adam’s support is valuable, because he does not just bring us suggestions for us to pursue. Adam shares his ideas with us, does the research, talks to other people who can offer expertise and pursues solutions on behalf of foster children and foster families.”

Top Negotiator

Lori Wheeler
Managing Director
Wortham, Houston

When the Rio Texas Conference, a United Methodist Church serving more than 400 Texan churches, aimed to switch brokers, they didn’t have to look further than Wortham Insurance’s Lori Wheeler.

Her presentation with the organization sealed the deal, and immediately Wheeler got to work.

“Our insurers didn’t know what they were actually insuring until Lori came along,” said Tina Whitaker, property and liability administrator, Rio Texas Conference.

The organization didn’t have a clear understanding of how its missions were covered under its existing policies. The missions, Whitaker explained, are group worship sessions throughout the local community where congregations gather to learn from and collaborate with each other.

“Lori made sure those groups were included. She found they were a subsidiary we could get coverage for,” said Whitaker.

Another client of Wheeler’s said she was able to get them D&O insurance at a much lower renewal rate.

The client got hit with a lawsuit one month prior to renewal, which would have upped their D&O tower premium more than 40 percent. Wheeler negotiated the overall program premium increase to less than 2 percent.

“Lori is an asset to our business,” said the client.

Leaving a Lasting Impression

Scott Konrad
Senior Vice President
Hub International, New York

HUB’s Not-for-Profit Practice Leader Scott Konrad strives to create a lasting impression of improvement. He takes great professional satisfaction in leaving every client in better condition than before he met them.

In one such case, one of Konrad’s clients decided to switch brokers this year, and he did everything in his power to make it a smooth transition.

The client said that the quality of responses they received from Konrad on every question they had showed just how knowledgeable and ready Konrad was willing to work for them.

They described his approach to brokering as, ‘I’m always ready to do what I can to make things easier and better for the client.’

With this approach, Konrad has created a bridge of trust and open communication.

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“He’s a people-connector. He’ll get you in contact with the right people and come up with the best economical solutions,” said Renee Richardson, CFAO, City Harvest.

City Harvest has a fleet of 22 trucks that transport 59 million pounds of excess food each year, delivering it to 500 soup kitchens, food pantries and other community food programs.

Road safety is their top priority, and the organization worked with Konrad to ensure their fleet and workers were protected. Konrad, said Richardson, knew the perfect connections to get them a claims adjustor who would help City Harvest achieve its goal.

A Key Player

Tim DePriest, ARM
Managing Director
Gallagher, Glenside, Calif.

Years ago, Gallagher’s Tim DePriest asked John Maceri, executive director for The People Concern: Do you consult your broker before a renovation or program expansion?

“We talk with funders and attorneys, but I hadn’t thought of contacting our insurance broker for their input,” said Maceri.

DePriest wasn’t Maceri’s broker yet, but he left a lasting impression — now he offers sage advice to The People Concern.

“He knows the market and is great in analyzing it, providing good counsel on important things we might not have otherwise considered.”

Naomi Kageyama, director of risk management and special projects with Special Service for Groups, said, “There are few people in our industry that I can unequivocally say I trust, and Tim is one of them.

“In addition to helping us with our annual renewal, he personally comes out yearly to meet with our managers and educate them on our coverage.”

Another client, Kings View, needed to buy cyber liability insurance. As a behavioral and mental health facility, keeping digital records protected from cyber threat is an imperative.

DePriest negotiated competitive rates, quoting the facility at half of what Kings View was quoted by another broker.

On top of that, DePriest knows the mental health industry, which enables him to provide the best coverage for his client’s needs: “If I bring up a nuanced question related to the services we provide, Tim knows what I’m talking about,” said Jim Rodriguez, CFO, Kings View.

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 an 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]