The 2020 Executives to Watch: FM Global’s Kevin Ingram
Kevin Ingram’s father worked as an independent insurance agent through much of his life. But for Ingram himself, the road to insurance wasn’t as cut and dry.
When the time came for Ingram to start his own career, he chose to study accounting at Northern Illinois University. And upon leaving school, Ingram entered into the professional world as a certified public accountant.
It was a rewarding career, certainly, but it wasn’t exactly what Ingram wanted. Luckily for him, he had clients in the insurance space, and as he worked with them, he started to gain an interest the sector.
“When I made the decision to leave public accountancy,” Ingram explained, “I thought about what I wanted to do.”
Commercial property insurer Protection Mutual Insurance Company, one of his clients, was looking for an associate controller.
For five years, Ingram served as the company’s accountant, and through that relationship, Ingram was able to learn more. He asked his connections at Protection Mutual about the open position and the requirements the company was looking for in potential candidates.
As they began discussing Ingram’s qualifications, however, Protection Mutual let in on a secret: They wanted Ingram to apply even before he wanted to himself.
“The said they had thought about asking me to apply,” said Ingram. But the team at Protection Mutual pegged Ingram as a “career accountant.”
“That’s because my approach to any job is to be all-in,” explained Ingram.
But he was ready to go all-in at Protection Mutual.
Upon joining, he held the controller position within the company for five years. Ingram’s background in finance was a big asset as he grew with the company, and soon he assumed the role of treasurer, in addition to controller.
In 1999, Protection Mutual merged with Allendale Mutual Insurance Company and Arkwright Mutual Insurance Company to form FM Global.
Ingram moved into the role of vice president of financial services. Over the next 15 years, he worked in finance at the insurance company, holding roles that included, finance director of the UK entity. For a number of years of that, he was senior vice president of corporate services and oversaw the company’s Business Risk Consulting Group, Business Process Improvement team and risk management function.
Today he is the executive vice president and chief financial officer and also oversees enterprise risk management for the company. He entered into this role in 2019, making him a 2020 Risk & Insurance® Executive to Watch.
The Marriage of Engineering and Finance
FM Global uses a science-based loss prevention engineering approach to property risk management and risk transfer for its clients. It prides itself in how it recruits talent from the engineering space and brings them on board to serve its unique clientele.
Risk assessments and client site evaluations are completed by trained engineers, which is how FM Global differentiates itself from competitors that base their underwriting on actuarial tables rather than a hands-on engineering approach.
Ingram, however, did not have a background in engineering. Instead, he was “finance-minded,” as he put it.
“FM Global is analytical and methodical on how it does business,” he said. When Protection Mutual was folded into FM Global, Ingram had the opportunity to bring his background to the foreground.
“I was able to bring my finance background to help make sure that we thought about the financial implications of services and other strategies FM Global was looking to implement,” he said.
When Ingram works with FM Global’s operations teams, he is tasked with creating presentations for clients. Before he begins, Ingram takes a step back and asks himself, “What is it I would want to know from a financial perspective?”
Then, he makes certain to include that information into the presentation. “It’s a great opportunity to be working with the operations teams,” he said. And from where he sits as CFO of the company, he can see just how this marriage of engineering and finance not only benefits FM Global’s risk strategy but also its clients.
Wrestling with a Hardening Market
One of the biggest challenges of 2020 is a transitioning insurance market.
Numerous insurers, brokers, risk managers and clients alike are witnessing rising rates and bracing for what is to come.
“The market is in a different place than it has been for a number of years,” Ingram said. “But I see it as encouraging from a business perspective.”
Though the market poses challenges, insurers have a unique opportunity to work with their policyholders to get them coverage at a price point that works for them. This hardening market enables the client-insurer relationship to grow and strengthen.
Insurers have a responsibility to work with clients to get a fair premium for their exposures, Ingram explained. Before underwriting, insurers have to challenge themselves to treat each individual client in a targeted and focused approach.
“It’s client by client,” he said. “We have one constituency; policyholders are stakeholders. As we look at the market, we have to treat it like an opportunity to ensure all our clients are getting that one-on-one, fair approach.”
Innovation and the Status Quo
Looking back, Ingram added that his time spent in ERM really helped him grow into the professional he is today.
“It opened more doors for me,” he said, adding that young professionals joining the insurance profession should be as judicious as they can be when opportunities present themselves. “All opportunities presented in our career are teaching moments.”
And as Ingram settles deeper into his role as executive vice president, he’s excited to learn more from the projects and innovations in store.
“I’m excited to get more involved,” he said. “I ask different questions of our clients because of my background in finance, and I’m always looking for areas to be more innovative.”
It is his belief that the insurance industry must provide services to clients in the most efficient way possible.
“At the end of the day, I always want to be challenged,” he said.
“I don’t want to be satisfied with the status quo.” &
For the full list of Insurance Executives to Watch in 2020, click here.