Like much of the insurance industry, the captive segment is struggling to recruit and retain new talent.
Industry retirements coupled with younger generations’ limited knowledge of career opportunities in insurance at large could create a potential shortage of 400,000 workers, per data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In the captive segment, this talent gap has been exacerbated by an increase in demand for these types of insurance solutions. In 2021, the demand for captives increased across industries, and lines like D&O, property and cyber saw particularly large increases as insureds tried to manage hard markets, per Aon’s Captive Benchmarking Survey.
“Not only are there not many people coming into the industry, but the big challenge that really amplifies this issue is that many people are retiring out of the industry at the same time, combined with a rapid growth of the industry,” said Brittany Nevins, captive insurance economic development director for the State of Vermont’s Department of Economic Development.
To address these shortages, a number of captive professionals in Vermont have come together to create Vermont Captive Insurance Emerging Leaders (VCIEL), an initiative in partnership with the Vermont Captive Insurance Association (VCIA), designed to educate people about opportunities within the industry. They’re helping young and new professionals see how innovative the industry is while also offering them a career with the potential for growth, great pay, and a strong work-life balance.
“People don’t necessarily know that the captive industry is an option for them. They don’t know the job opportunities that are there in the industry,” said captive auditor Elyssa Nagle, principal with Johnson Lambert LLP.
What Is VCIEL?
Launched this past April, VCIEL is a group of about 30 professionals from different realms of the captive industry, all located in Vermont. The goals for the program are twofold: to conduct student outreach and to educate students and early-to mid-career professionals about opportunities in the captive sector in the Vermont jurisdiction. While the group is focused on Vermont, they plan to collaborate with other initiatives, such as the Captive Insurance Companies Association NextGen Initiative.
“One of our biggest goals is getting in front of students early and often and letting them know what the industry has to offer,” said Nagle.
As with much of the insurance industry, people tend to stumble into careers in Vermont’s captive sector. “There’s all these stories of, ‘When did you first hear about captive insurance?’” said Francis McGill, communications director for VCIA. “Maybe it was mentioned in passing one time out of your four years in college. Or maybe your mother’s friend worked in the industry and you learned that way. It should be front and center — having a course, having a club.”
VCIEL is aiming to change that by increasing the number of educational opportunities about captives at the state’s universities, colleges, and high schools. The group partners with educational institutions in Vermont to hold educational events, and they host networking sessions to help increase awareness of career opportunities in the industry. “It’s shocking to me that there’s not more captive insurance curriculum in Vermont, given that we are a global leader in this industry,” Nevins said.
In addition to working with local institutions to reach students who might be interested in careers in the captive industry, VCIEL worked to create a new student sponsorship at this year’s VCIA annual conference, providing three students from different local universities with scholarships to attend the conference.
“It creates that pipeline and more exposure to the industry,” McGill said. “It’s really building a path for students to come into the industry, and also a platform for people within their career to turn to the captive industry, and we can retain and cultivate their talents.”
A Broad Spectrum of Career Opportunities
At its core, VCIEL is exposing students and young and mid-career professionals to the abundance of exciting career opportunities in the state’s captive industry. “There’s many different segments of the captive industry,” Nevins said. “There’s investment banking, there’s actuaries, there’s auditors, accountants, regulators, lawyers. The opportunities are really varied.”
Each of these segments is struggling to some extent with talent recruitment and retention. Peter Dysart is a corporate and captive insurance attorney with the law firm Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer PC. As a captive insurance attorney, he’s seen firms with captive practices struggle to recruit and hire associates to fill openings created by retirements. He sees opportunities for young attorneys with corporate experience to enter the space.
“If you’re a corporate attorney in Vermont, if you have some experience, you can certainly start doing this work. It’s corporate law with a regulatory twist,” Dysart said. “I think it’s important to create connections with these young and rising professionals, so that we can continue to grow our captive practice.”
Those working in captives are often called upon to help clients create innovative insurance solutions. “This industry is built on innovation,” Nevins said. “These companies are innovatively creating their own insurance company for their own needs and their own risk. No day looks the same as another.”
Captives provide insurance for businesses of all sizes, from Fortune 500 companies to small and midsize enterprises that join industry-or risk-specific captive groups.
“You’re not just forming single-parent, pure captives for large companies,” Dysart said. “You’re forming group captives and other alternative risk financing vehicles. You’re working with captive managers and other sophisticated parties that are doing creative things, and lawyers are being brought into that process not just to form the legal entity but to help create a captive insurance program.”
The VCIEL plans to make new connections with Vermont Law School and is working to create the first ever continuing legal education session with the Vermont Bar Association on the topic of captive insurance.
Vermont: A Great Place to Live, Work and Domicile a Captive
A top captive domicile, the State of Vermont is committed to attracting new talent to the industry and helping young and new professionals flourish. The state employs about 30 regulators who are dedicated solely to captive regulation, supporting growth for the industry across the state.
“Our state is really committed to this industry and ensuring that we have quality regulation,” Nevins said. “They really try to work with the industry to constantly update our statutes to make them better for businesses without compromising on quality.”
By pursuing work in the captive sector, professionals can enjoy both an exciting, globally engaged career with potential for growth and the small-town charm Vermont has in spades: “You can live in Vermont. You can have this small-town feel, you can have a great career, and you’re also going to be working with people from around the world,” Nagle said. “I’m talking to somebody in Hawaii later today, and I have a London client that I’m on the phone with all the time.”
“In terms of the work-life balance, I don’t think it can be beat,” Dysart added. “To this day, it still blows me away that I’m able to work in an industry with global reach while living in Vermont.”
One of VCIEL’s goals is to expose early and mid-career professionals to these benefits by educating them about Vermont’s status as a leading domicile. The captive industry is responsible for about 400 high paying jobs in the state, where professionals work to develop innovative insurance solutions for clients.
“People think of insurance as boring,” Nevins said. “Part of our job in this group is to actually break down that stigma and explain this niche industry, which is actually the antithesis of that and founded on the premise of being an ‘alternative solution.’”