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Thomas P. Ruggieri assumed his current role as president and CEO of Cooper Gay Swett & Crawford Ltd.'s North American operations in October 2014. Mr. Ruggieri founded insurance analytics provider Advisen Ltd. in 2001. CGSC North America offers wholesale brokerage services through its Swett & Crawford unit, but also offers specialist products through its managing general agencies and has a reinsurance team. He spoke recently to Business Insurance Senior Editor Judy Greenwald. Edited excerpts follow.
Q: How has your tenure at Cooper Gay Swett & Crawford been so far?
A: It's been great. It's been like coming home. I started my career 30 years ago as a specialist in the insurance marketplace doing new product development and placement strategies. That's what this business is about, and I've also leveraged my data and technology experience of the last 14 years with Advisen.
Q: What is your strategy insofar as the excess and surplus lines market is concerned?
A: Our strategy is, No. 1, to operate the business differently be-tween wholesale and underwriting, because they are different skill sets that need to be deployed.
Within the wholesale space, our strategy is related to supporting our retailers the way they want to do business, and that means they want us to be specialized by industry and product. They want us to supply an efficient platform to trade with, and that platform includes content and efficient technologies. And they want us to represent them in the marketplace where their needs come first. So, our strategy is built around those three things: efficient solutions to (clients') small-account business. It's very expensive to transact small business.
On the underwriting side, it's about new product development, and new product development requires data capture and analysis, and then the technological platform has to be able to perform efficiently, so you can provide fast quotes and fast service turn-around.
And then the third leg of the stool is supplying content to assist retail brokers in selling those products.
Q: What are some of the other initiatives you've been taking?
A: The two major things that we're working on is producer acquisition and the acquisition of businesses that fill gaps in our product and geographic suite. We will work with the capital markets in addition to our insurance company partners.
Q: What do you see as the outlook for the E&S marketplace?
A: The rate trend is going to continue to be soft so long as there are no catastrophes, with niche sectors that have some firming because of specific loss experience in those niche sectors.
The other trend that we're dealing with is the classic admitted markets writing more excess surplus lines risks, and some excess lines markets going direct to retailers, and so I think there's going to be a shakeout as to who are the real markets supporting the wholesale space.
Annette Guarisco Fildes is president and CEO of the ERISA Industry Committee in Washington. Ms. Fildes joined ERIC, which represents the nation's largest employers on a broad array of employee benefit issues, this year. She previously was executive vice president for the Retail Industry Leaders Association in Arlington, Virginia. Before that, Ms. Fildes held senior executive positions in the public policy and government affairs departments of General Motors Co. and Honeywell International Inc. where she was involved in health care and pension issues. In an interview with Editor-at-Large Jerry Geisel, Ms. Fildes discussed a broad array of issues related to the health care reform law from an employer's perspective. Edited excerpts follow.