The joining together of two long-standing insurance education organizations this month represents a step forward in the way the associations will be able to fulfill their missions, based on the leaders of both groups.
On Nov. 16th, the Malvern, Penn.-based The Institutes finalized an affiliation using the New York-based III, or Insurance Information Institute. The 2 groups announced their intent to do so in June.
Sean Kevelighan, CEO of III, said the union is the result of years of discussions where the boards of both organizations charged their CEOs to figure out 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 another step in a years-long thrust to diversify The Institutes and boost its ability to create and distribute happy 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 reducing service duplication where possible.
\”These companies spend vast sums of dollars annually on nonprofit memberships,\” Miller said. \”They do not 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, continues to be putting the concept of consolidation and collaboration to work: The affiliation with the III is only the latest example of that.
In December 2021, The Institutes finalized purchasing this magazine, Risk & Insurance(R), along with the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo, or National Comp, and also the National Ergonomics Conference & ErgoExpo.
In January of the year, The Institutes closed a deal to acquire Insurance Thought Leadership and its “Six Things” newsletter. And in June of 2021, 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 seems like he's made the right move.
\”I think Pete and Kate [Horowitz, The Institutes' CAO] represent a love for insurance and risk management. They're dedicated to being honest and maintaining integrity in everything they do,\” Kevelighan said.
\”You can tell they seem to care a lot concerning 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 we have found a strong match both in of these areas. There is no doubt i believe that both organizations will be stronger together.\”
In welcoming Kevelighan and also the III, Miller says he and the team are keeping a sharp focus on the importance of being able to generate a wider, deeper stream of content to The Institute's constituency.
\”This is part of an ongoing effort to supply knowledge in the manner and place in our customers’ choosing, and we continue to look for a number of ways to do that,\” he said.
Before joining the III as CEO in 2021, Kevelighan served as global head of public affairs for Zurich. Just before 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 the way the III needed to change whether it was going to thrive.
\”The organization was based on membership assessment, and I saw challenging 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 suggests key changes he was able to undertake as the III CEO in the last four years. One was to result in 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 may be 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 using 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 most the insurance premiums placed in this country. Both are well-established brands with solid foundations.
The Institutes built its place in the world as a credentialing organization. Its CPCU and ARM are simply two credentials – out of more than two dozen offerings – that pepper business resumes around the world.
Traditionally, the III has become known being an insurance research center along with 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 every year, features panels with top-level insurance executives discussing trending industry topics. It also maintains a significant presence in Washington, D.C., where they weigh in on policy matters affecting the industry.
Kevelighan admires the way Miller, a former computer programmer, and the colleagues have brought an emphasis on technology, data and analytics to aid their mission. He says the III is likely 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, consequently, 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 within the White House Office of Management and Budget.
\”I think Sean includes 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 also the Institutes also pride themselves on being research-based organizations. Miller believes the present research talent base in the Institutes can be value-added for the III because it moves forward in its mission to be a national resource for insurance industry information.
Those are just a few notes around the benefit side.
The Need for Evolution
Both Miller and Kevelighan point to the costs of membership in trade organizations, what percentage of them there are (more than 100). They say this profusion of nonprofits and associated costs weighs point of interest of insurance executives, particularly those that work for publicly traded businesses 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 desire to make decisions about which organizations they will participate in and which ones they will drop,\” he added.
\”I came only at that role understanding and appreciating that there needed to be better collaboration one of the trades,\” Kevelighan said.
Kevelighan tells the story of a well-known insurance CEO taking him aside and asking him to figure out ways to help the industry do less finger pointing and more hand holding.
Miller said his board makes it very clear to him that insurance companies, vendors and brokers cannot support an ungainly quantity 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 really a 501C6 and can claim as its mission specifically the advancement of the insurance industry and also the education of consumers of insurance.