Vermont Captive is featuring a series throughout the year highlighting companies and people that service the captive insurance industry. This post features Rebecca (Becky) James, a CPA and partner at Johnson Lambert LLP, an audit, tax and advisory service for the captive industry. Here, Becky shares her experience and insights about her career so far and the captive industry, in general.
How did you get started in the captive industry?
As I was winding up my undergraduate career at St. Michaels College in Colchester, Vermont – really a suburb of Burlington, Vermont’s largest city – I knew that I wanted to continue pursuing my interest in accounting and get a certified public accountant license. So, after finishing college, I got a job with Johnson Lambert, who offers a program for getting CPA licenses while working. Now, a number of years later, I’m a partner with the firm, focusing primarily on the captive insurance industry.
What is your current role with Johnson Lambert?
My financial work with captives runs the gamut, from reviewing and managing captive audits to consulting with board members on financial matters to advising about operational controls. Everyday really is different – which I like.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
While there are many, I think the one thing that sticks out is that I love learning about different businesses and helping them adapt to the risks they are facing in their industries. There is a tendency for some to think insurance is boring but quite the opposite is true. Plus, many of the businesses we help support through our captive work are doings things to make a positive difference in the world, which sure feels right to me.
What do you think Vermont does well as a domicile for captives?
Without getting into nitty-gritty details, I think, basically, what sets Vermont apart as a premier domicile for captives is the approach taken by its captive regulators and their deep bench.
There really is a how-can-we-help-you culture among the Vermont regulators, who are responsible for licensing and monitoring Vermont captives. That culture is reflected in the Vermont regulators’ willingness to work with companies to help them meet their risk management goals. Of course, companies must still comply with the captive laws and regulations, but the Vermont regulators are known for their fairness and transparency. And they also serve as a kind of guardrail to make sure companies obtain and stay within compliance.
The Vermont regulators are also some of the most experienced, knowledgeable and innovative of the bunch. Even with the retirement of Dave Provost, former department commissioner of the Captive Insurance Division and a legend in the industry, their bench runs deep and broad. It’s truly special that we have this impressive team right here in Vermont.
Do you see any particular challenges on the horizon for the captive industry?
Yes, I do and I’m sure it’s not a surprise – workforce shortage. There has been tremendous growth in our industry, which is great. Like many other industries, however, there just aren’t enough people coming into the industry, and competition for talent is fierce. We’ve had to think differently about our recruiting efforts, such as summer, winter and fall internship programs, with pay based on an intern’s anticipated starting salary.
Would you recommend working in the captive… (she didn’t even let me finish)?
Absolutely and I do recommend working in this industry to family, friends and whoever else wants to listen, especially when I have my recruiting hat on for the firm. So, come on in.
To learn more about working in the Vermont captive industry check out our careers page at vermontcaptive.com/careers/.