By DAN REYNOLDS, senior editor of Risk & Insurance®
As a program administrator with more than 20 years in the business, Greg Thompson knows how tough it can be to combine the actuarial skills and the marketing savvy to be a successful program manager.
The chairman and CEO of the Kennesaw, Ga.-based Thompson Insurance Enterprises LLC, or Thomco, also remembers what it was like when he didn't have a definable market niche to ply his trade in.
"We originally were a miscellaneous, nonstandard, E&S wholesaler handling a lot of different classes. We weren't very successful doing that so we decided to go the specialization route, and it was enormously successful for us," said Thompson, whose managing agency underwrites and presents to insurance markets the risks of companies in the hospitality and healthcare fields.
Thompson, during a discussion with Risk & Insurance®
at the Target Markets Program Administrators Association's (TMPAA) midyear meeting in Baltimore on April 13, said he wants to spare younger insurance professionals the same tough lessons he learned when he was starting out in the business.
"What I'm really excited about our industry is, if you forget insurance for a minute, what is happening to our economy and in the world economy, specialization is what is happening," Thompson said.
Thompson's company is sponsoring one of what will be between 12 and 15 three-hour online courses that will comprise what is known as Target University, which should be up and running by October, according to board members. Insurance professionals who complete the course will earn a new designation, the Certified Program Leader (CPL).
Thompson said both younger insurance pros and their veteran colleagues who want to improve their position in the program administration space will benefit from the designation.
"What would attract you is if you are planning on starting a program administrator business or if you are going to be a senior leader within a program administrator ... there is a certain skill set that you need in these roles, and what this attempts to do is provide that skill set in a variety of areas," Thompson said.
If the Target Market meeting is any indication, the program business is continuing to grow. This year's midyear meeting in Baltimore produced another record attendance with more than 520 participants, according to William Kronenberg, the president of the TMPAA and a principal with the Exton, Pa.-based Marsh Creek Corporate Services.
Kronenberg said that the sponsors for the Target University courses are pretty much in place, with industry stalwarts Zurich and XL Insurance and the Glatfelter Insurance Group having agreed to sponsor individual courses
"What we have right now in sponsorships, those numbers will get us there," Kronenberg said.
But between now and October, when Target University should be up and running, Kronenberg said that he will continue to market sponsorships to the program to make sure that all the program's financial needs are covered.
And marketing is yet another benefit of creating the designation, Thompson said. Once the CPL is established, he added, it will bring a higher profile to a type of agency work that is deserving of more attention.
April 19, 2010
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