3 Topics that Captivated the 2017 VCIA Conference

Each summer our team looks forward to returning to Burlington, Vermont for the annual Vermont Captive Insurance Association (VCIA) conference. Our Managing Partner, Karin Landry, is a long-standing member of the VCIA strategic planning committee and has been an active participant in the organization’s events for over a decade now. This past year a group of Spring colleagues congregated in Burlington where we learned, networked, presented and caught up with familiar faces.Vermont Captive Insurance Association

While the conference’s official theme this year was “Mission Impossible”, I noticed a few captive-related topical concepts that continuously emerged throughout the 3-day event: optimization, technology and legal and ethical considerations. In addition, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was also a cornerstone of the conference 🙂

1. Optimization

Setting up and managing the day-to-day tasks of a captive are one thing, but getting the most out of your captive is another. No one knows this better than the industry veterans who flocked to Burlington, Vermont from all over the world, and the topic was central to several educational sessions.

One presentation called, “Getting the Most out of Your Actuary”, covered just that, discussing factors like loss studies, program design, cost allocation and TPA assessments. The Managing Director of Global Risk at Cummins, Inc. led a discussion on optimizing your captive’s risk profile, emphasizing realignment over time in terms of the different parties’ captive goals. A third session entitled “Reinventing Your Captive for Maximum Results” presented two case studies and focused on different tax cases and actuarial observations. All three sessions offered tips and best practices to attendees, and while I know a lot about captive optimization, I can’t say I didn’t learn a thing or two.

2. Technology

It’s 2017. Technology is everything and everywhere. But how does it play into captives specifically?

Well, one session focused on the oncoming of self-driving cars and presented the different risk and insurance consequences they pose, not to mention changes in regulation. Control and liability are likely to shift if autonomous vehicles actually become mainstream, and all sorts of policy, insurance and cost changes could affect the captive market.

In “Innovative Spotlight: Using Technology to Mitigate Risk”, a panel including the General Counsel from Cook-Illinois Corporation, who spoke of his own experience, outlined three areas for efficiency-based opportunities: data, human capital and software. The group discussed things like apps, social media, the elusive “Internet of Things” and mathematical models that companies should be considering in tandem with their captives. They also covered how to train and manage your people as they become familiarized with such technology.

Cyber Insurance

Lastly, “Cybersecurity and Captives” was a two-part presentation (our own Teri Weber led part 2) that explored cyber threats and attacks, different types of risk involved and trends in the marketplace. Teri presented proprietary Spring survey data on the landscape of putting cyber insurance into a captive – who’s doing it, who’s considering it, what are the different challenges or reservations, what are the benefits of cyber in a captive? Cyber attacks continue to happen every day, and hackers always seem to be one step ahead, but these sessions helped audiences feel more prepared and armed for what hopefully will never happen to their organization. But like they say, better safe than sorry!

3. Legal & ethical considerations

A panel including Mary Ellen Moriarty from the College Insurance Company and Dan Petterson of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation led the discussion, “Captive Governance Best Practices: Ethics, Conflicts of Interest and More”. They talked about the importance of each role staying within their role – and when over different duties of directors. They highlighted ways to ensure captive compliance such as ownership structure, plan of operations and your Board of Directors, and discussed how things might differ depending on your captive type (i.e. group vs. pure).

Another session got more into the weeds and provided an industry tax update – crucial information for captive professionals to be on top of. Specifically, the group focused on the recent supposed crackdown on microcaptives, or 831bs by the IRS – what kinds of captives they’re after, what their red flags are and how to make sure your captive doesn’t end up on their list.


In summary, the 2017 Annual VCIA conference brought good weather, great ice cream, informative and important educational sessions, and myriad of networking opportunities. Our team was happy to be back, especially having kicked off the conference with an award from the US Captive Review! We are already looking forward to next year’s event. If you didn’t have a chance to stop by our booth or weren’t able to make it to the conference, please feel free to reach out with any questions, In the meantime, you might also enjoy this white paper: Funding Employee Benefits Through a Captive.

Actuarial Firm of the Year

by Reciprocity Studio


Spring Spotlight: Christian Gonser

We hope you’ve been enjoying these glimpses into life at Spring and the people behind our work. Now it’s Christian’s turn!

Small Business

Title: Client Service Representative

Joined Spring in: August of 2016 as a full-time employee, but had been doing some part-time work for Spring for several years prior

At work: Christian is a licensed broker for health and life and is on the front lines when it comes to client services for Spring Insurance Group. He helps make sure all health plans are running smoothly, assists in developing human capital management systems for clients and also aids in some reporting.

Outside-of-work: Christian loves to play tennis and golf, and plays them as often as he can. He likes to get some fishing in too when time allows.

Favorite season: “Summer is my favorite season because I love outdoor activities and being able to spend days at the beach.”

Favorite flower: Sunflower

Favorite food: “There’s nothing better than a good steak.”

Favorite part about working at Spring: Christian likes the size of Spring and, most notable, the variety of work that goes on here. There are always different types of projects happening at once and he loves the exposure he gets to different departments and lines of business, while taking in all of the subtle nuances that each individual role plays in the larger picture.

What is one of your biggest pet peeves? “I get annoyed when people use poor grammar – especially when it comes to the incorrect use of ‘their’ vs. ‘there’ vs. ‘they’re’, and ‘two’, ‘too’ and ‘to’. Drives me nuts!” Watch out, Christian is ready to proof your next bit of writing.


Spring Wins Captive Review’s Actuarial Firm Award for the 3rd Time

We are delighted to announce that Spring Consulting Group won the US Captive Review’s 2017 Actuarial Firm of the Year award for the third time. Our actuarial team

Best Actuarial Firm

by Reciprocity Studio

works hard, regularly exceeds client expectations and is one of only a few completely independent firms that also provides a wider range of services. Their work has paid off once again this year, having also won the award in 2013 and 2016. We are both excited and proud to have received such great recognition.

The US Captive Review’s Annual Awards Ceremony was held in Burlington, Vermont on Monday, August 7th, prior to the kickoff of the annual VCIA Conference, which many award nominees and recipients were also attending. Spring had a representative group attend the awards dinner, including our Chief Actuary, Steven Keshner, who accepted the award on stage, and newly hired Peter Johnson as well. We were also short-listed for the Cell Captive Initiative award.

top actuariesSteven and the rest of the team are humbled and honored, having gone up against some bigger, similarly well-respected names in the actuarial industry. As our actuarial arm continues to grow, we strive to deliver the same kind of excellence we’ve been recognized for throughout the past few years. We are thankful for our clients, our people, the Captive Review and the industry professionals who had a hand in making this decision.




Spring Welcomes Peter Johnson to the Actuarial Team

Spring is excited to welcome Peter Johnson, a seasoned actuarial and insurance professional, to the team. Peter joins is from Bartlett Actuarial Group and has spent years in the industry at companies like Milliman and Allstate. He is an invaluable asset as an expert in property & casualty actuarial work and is already a great addition to the team.p&c actuary

Peter is a Fellow in the Casualty Actuarial Society as well as a member of the American Academy of Actuaries. He brings to the table over 12 years of industry experience, with specific expertise in all things property & casualty, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, risk transfers and professional liability. Peter will further bolster our top-notch, in-house actuarial group and broaden the range of services we are able to provide clients.

Peter is not only well-known and respected in the industry, but he is a great cultural fit as well and we are very pleased to have him on-board! You can read more about his hiring here.

Spring Spotlight: Anne Baldwin

captive feasibility study


You know the drill by now, right? Meet our financial expert, Anne.


Title: Chief Financial Officer

Joined Spring in: June of 2015

At work: Anne handles the day-to-day operations at Spring and works with the executive team to create and implement strategies for growth and improvement. She’s also our go-to for things like expense reports, billing and all things budgetary.

Outside-of-work: We all know of Anne’s love for bowling – she plays in leagues year-round and loves it. Otherwise she enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Favorite season: “Definitely summer…the hotter, the better!” She was not a fan of the 50-something degree days we recently had in July.

Favorite flower: Roses.

Spring Consulting Group


Favorite food: “Nachos,” she laughs, “pizza is a close second, but I have to go with nachos, they’re the best.” No argument here.

Favorite part about working at Spring: “Definitely the people and the culture, firstly. Secondly, I had never worked in the insurance industry before and I have learned a ton about insurance, healthcare, benefits and risk management. I think what we do is really interesting and I am still learning new things every day; it’s rewarding.”

What is your biggest guilty pleasure? Wine is one of Anne’s biggest vices, but she can’t bring herself to stop – it’s just too good! You know Anne, they say red wine has health benefits, so maybe it’s not a bad thing after all….


** Anne’s not big on photos of herself so we decided to showcase two of her favorite things instead of her beautiful face.

Spring Spotlight: Jack Sinibaldi

We hope you’re getting to know us better, slowly but surely, with these Spring Spotlights. We’re trying to demystify our work and give you a glimpse into life at Spring…how are we doing? Next up is Jack.

Title: Director of Client Serviceshealth insurance for small businesses

Joined Spring in: May of 2015

At work: Jack oversees the client service team of our brokerage arm, Spring Insurance Group. He takes great pride in making sure clients get the best possible products and services and ensuring that his team delivers quality service in a timely manner. Jack organizes regular training and development for his team so that they maintain a thorough understanding of the marketplace. He also works closely with senior management on client strategy and leads both client retention and acquisition. In summary, he’s got a lot on his plate.

Outside-of-work: Jack has been into sports his whole life, and continues to play in a local men’s hockey league. When he has some spare time, he also enjoys golfing, hiking and gardening.

Favorite season: “Fall is my favorite season because I love the changes in the leaves and the crisp mornings, not to mention pumpkin hunting. It’s fun see everyone preparing for the oncoming winter.”

Favorite flower: Jack picks lilacs as his favorite because he loves their smell.

Favorite food: Italian. Saw that one coming.

Favorite part about working at Spring: Jack most enjoys the constant interaction with his clients in trying to fulfill their business needs.

If given the chance, who would you want to be for a day? “JFK. I’ve always admired him and think he could have been one of our most successful presidents if his presidency wasn’t, unfortunately, cut short.”

Spring Spotlight: Phoenix Zhang

We don’t want you to forget about us over the 4th of July holiday, so we’re back this week with another Spring Spotlight so you can get to know our team better. A lot of our work is complicated and not always easily explained, but we all have a lighter, fun side too. Learn about Actuarial Analyst and critical team member, Phoenix Zhang, below.

Title: Actuarial FirmActuarial Analyst

Joined Spring in: September of 2015

At work: Phoenix is primarily responsible for helping with financial reporting, reserving, projections and liability valuations for client projects. Not sure what this all means? No worries, we have a glossary for that.

Outside-of-work: “Actuarial exams!!!” Phoenix spends much of her free time studying for a series of certification exams given by the Society of Actuaries. But she does make time for herself too – she just started taking barre classes and has been going almost everyday. “After 8 hours of sitting at work, it is nice to stretch and get moving, and I always feel energized after”, explains Phoenix.

Favorite season: “I like fall because of the colors of the leaves and the fun holidays that happen during the season, like Halloween.” Phoenix also enjoys fall because there are a lot of festive activities to do outdoors – she loved going apple picking and grabbing some cider and a doughnut at local cider mills during her falls spent in Michigan (btw, she’s a Wolverine…see that pennant?).

Favorite flower: Phoenix likes lilies because they’re pretty and she thinks their long, tall stems makes them elegant.

Favorite food: “I like a really good salad – but not one that is just veggies – preferably some grains, meats and plenty of cheese included!” Phew, thought she was going too healthy on us there for a second.

Favorite part about working at Spring: Phoenix says, “I like the fact that I’m getting exposed to different aspects of the business. For an actuary, it’s really important to have experience in different types of projects.” We know her 2nd favorite part is our monthly bagel celebration, but that doesn’t sound as good 🙂

If you were stuck on a desert island, what 3 things would you want to have with you?  Phoenix would bring a box of matches, multivitamin gummies and a fully-charged iPod loaded with good music from all decades between 1900-2010. She was pretty clear about not needing any music that came out after 2010. #GloryDays

Spring Spotlight: Aadil Ikram

We hope these behind-the-scenes employee spotlights give you a better idea of who we are, what we do and what it’s like to work at Spring. Next up we have Aadil: part bartender, part chef and part consultant-in-the-making.

Title: Consulting AnalystSpring Consulting Analyst

Joined Spring in: December of 2015

At work: At Spring, Aadil takes on project management responsibilities and is particularly focused on captive feasibility studies, disability management outsourcing and data analytics. He is also charged with the extremely important initiative of the Friday happy hour drink cart 🙂

Outside-of-work: When not working on client projects and presentations, Aadil loves playing with his dog, Nemo, and golfing when the weather’s nice. He also enjoys cooking and he’s not half-bad; we’ve been lucky enough to try some of his specialty dishes here at the office!

Favorite season: “I like the fall best, because where I come from (Pakistan) it’s only one season throughout the whole year. So experiencing the change in season from summer to fall and watching the leaves change color is really beautiful, in my opinion.”

Favorite flower: “Lilies – don’t ask me why though.” Okay, we won’t.

Favorite food: Aadil’s a big fan of Japanese food, especially traditional sushi. However he’s very adamant about not having avocados in his sushi.

Favorite part about working at Spring: Aadil loves the people at Spring and the teams he gets to work with. He also notes that, “Everyone is very collaborative. The culture is inclusive and everyone’s voice is heard.”

What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken and why? “My senior year of college, a group of about 35 of us when to the Dominican Republic for spring break. It was the last trip we all took together and it was a perfect, bittersweet closing to my college days.” He’s been adulting ever since.