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Tag Archive for: Board of Directors

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Mark Ware Elected as Chairman of TechAssure Association

Denver, CO, January 1, 2017 – IMA, one of the nation’s largest independent insurance brokers, announced that Mark Ware, Senior Vice President of IMA was recently elected as chairman of TechAssure Association Inc., a consortium of independent insurance agents and brokers who focus on technology-related risks and has demonstrated advanced expertise in managing the technology, life sciences, clean tech industries, as well as the firms that fund them.

In his role as Chairman, Mark will work directly with all TechAssure committee chairs and strategic alliances ti ensure that the association’s goals and objectives are reached.

As the leader of IMA’s Technology Practice, Mark has over 25 years of experience in the insurance industry, and has been with IMA since 2002. Mark has been involved with TechAssure since 2004 and has previously served as Chairman of the multinational trade association. “Mark is one of the true leaders in the technology-risk space and has been a vital part of TechAssure for over a decade,” said Garrett Droege, Executive Director of TechAssure Association. “Mark brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this role and I am personally excited for where his leadership will take us in 2017.

“TechAssure is one of the most progressive and respected member-driven associations in the insurance industry and I am honored to serve as Chairman for a second term.” said Mark Ware. “We continue to evolve and prosper by expanding our global footprint while bringing world class resources, education, and technology to our members.”

About The IMA Financial Group

The IMA Financial Group, Inc. (IMA) is a diversified financial services company specializing in risk management, insurance, employee benefits solutions and wealth management. It employs nearly 700 associates at offices in Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, New York and Texas. The IMA Financial Group is comprised of IMA, Inc., the ninth-largest independently owned retail insurance broker in the U.S.; Signature Select LLC, a retail insurance broker subsidiary providing personal and  business insurance services for midsized organizations; Towerstone, Inc., a wholesale insurance broker; Eydent Insurance Services, a managing general underwriter specializing in niche solutions; CORnerstone Risk Solutions, an alternative risk services company; and TrueNorth, Inc., an SEC-registered investment advisory firm that provides professional asset management and investment consulting services.

About TechAssure

Established in 2000, TechAssure is an international not-for-profit association dedicated to advancing corporate insurance and risk management practices for companies with technology-related risks. The association is comprised of independent regional insurance brokers located across the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and India.

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Technology Industry, Global Regulations and Effective Board Governance

The global economic crisis has imposed higher risks and challenges for board governance.

Boards of technology companies have significant challenges.  Often times they have incomplete management teams, inexperienced founders, lack of resources and more.  In the TechAssure Association annual risk report, we cite that global regulations also impact the effectiveness of board governance.

During the second set of meetings during the Global Strategic Leadership Forum in Atlanta, the World Affairs Council stated that contemporary global companies face more intense governance issues than ever before. Their determinations have led to discussion on how globalization has called on companies to re-examine their risk management strategy in order to successfully adapt to the complicated matrix of the regulatory environment.

The World Affairs Council stresses the fact that the board should re-evaluate governance strategies to include not only profitability and growth, but escalating risks due to the overly complicated regulatory processes they face in the U.S. and other sovereign nations. Unfortunately, government intervention in company dealings can come suddenly and unexpectedly. Rules and regulations across the globe can be conflicting which makes the governance of an international board even more complex; diluting the potency of solid governance strategy.

Regulatory laws such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the UK’s United Kingdom Bribery Law, and the Dodd-Frank Legislation have had a major impact on internationalized business board governance. Conflicting global legislation can have major consequences for international technology companies. Even if an infraction occurs in a small jurisdiction and is committed by one employee, the board must be informed so that they may take action to avoid catastrophic damage to a firm’s finances and reputation. 

These regulations have increased risks to firms to the technology industry.  A strong board which implements a versatile board governance strategy is the only way in which a company in today’s market can survive and flourish globally. Consistent risk audits must be performed regularly and CEOs and board members must remain vigilant; reassessing strategies and making adjustments which correspond with audit results.  

Board members and officers are faced with increasing personal risk in an ever changing global regulatory environment. Working with a TechAssure Association member can help your board stay protected and help your firm develop a broad global risk management strategy in a rapidly changing world.  Please contact us for more information.

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High Growth Firms, Board Governance and Leadership Succession

Board governance is one of the most important elements in high-growth firms. We often get a wide range of questions on managing risks in high-growth organizations. Adopting risk management best practices early in the development of an organization can put your firm on the path to accelerated growth. If done correctly, high-growth firms have the ability to continue along their successful growth path.

The issue of board governance often comes up as high-growth firms establish their risk management program. Board governance is what really keeps your business moving and growing. Therefore, you must give leadership succession a very high priority. These leaders will move your company forward or backward, depending on their skills and understanding of how your firm operates.

The best way to prepare for succession is for the board to hold several discussions every year about who the best choices for new leaders are. They need to make an effort to get to know these candidates personally and observe how they react in crisis situations. They should also create assignments that will prepare candidates for possible future roles.

Without preparation for leadership succession, board members and investors may find they lack confidence in their inside choices. In such cases, many companies will tend to fall back on outside hires. This isn’t always a good approach, because while the new hires may look good on paper, they often lack the inside knowledge of your company that is necessary for making a smooth and long-term transition. Boards should instead hold leadership succession planning meetings to keep track of candidates and their progress in gaining the needed experiences that will prepare them for their new positions.

High-growth firms should include board governance and leadership succession in their risk management planning. These long-term goals can help prevent potential serious losses resulting from a disruptive transition in leadership. For more tips and strategies on risk management planning for high growth firms, please contact one of our TechAssure Association members today.

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Pointers for Technology Firms that are Establishing a Board of Directors

As your company grows, the time may come when you are in need of guidance and direction from a team of experts. Consider the areas of your business where you lack expertise and need some direction or input to continue your company’s growth. Establishing a board of directors may be the solution to maintaining growth and establishing sound direction.

The board of directors, serving as a company’s governing body, is responsible for the overall management of the business. They set policies, establish long-range goals and approve operating budgets, as well as evaluate and hire key managerial staff. Though they are not required to know everything about your specific business, they are required to act responsibly as they carry out their duties.

Establishing a board of directors for a technology firm can be difficult. At times, a less mature technology firm could take many different directions. However, there are some important points to consider when putting together a board.

• Provide a job description for each potential member of the board. It is vital that prospective board members have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and what their responsibilities will be. Without a job description clearly laying out was is expected, the board is sure to be unproductive.

• Be patient when establishing a board of directors. Proceeding carefully gives you the opportunity to learn more about the individuals you are considering, and decide if their motivation to join the board is compatible with your company’s agenda.

• Look beyond your inner circle. It is crucial to recruit the best talent available when creating a board. While you may know people with the skills you require, they may not have the right expertise or experience.

Establishing a board of directors can be beneficial to your technology firm in many ways. Besides bringing expertise and know-how, a board of directors can provide instant credibility to an organization. Having an independent body overseeing auditing procedures and eliminating potential management abuse and fraud can be very attractive to potential investors.

Once your board is in place, your company is properly positioned to go to the next level. However, it’s important to recognize that with a new business structure comes new risks. The members of TechAssure Association can help you manage your management liability exposures. They have the knowledge, tools and expertise to help you respond to a wide range of risks that face your board members. Please give us a call for more information.

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Considering a IPO? Don’t Wait to Adjust Your Directors and Officers Coverage

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As with any business decision, the decision to offer an Initial Public Offering is an important one that should be carefully considered. When done correctly, an IPO can boost to the company and propel it to even greater heights.

The benefits of an IPO are broad:

  • Fresh liquidity
  • Cash infusion
  • Growth in trust for the company

The fresh liquidity and cash infusion go hand in hand. By offering shares of ownership in the company, investors come in to provide cash to help grow operations. In return, they receive a piece of the company and its future profits, and that activity can lead to greater trust from the public. Giving the public a stake in the company means that they also now have a vested interest in the growth of the operation. That is always a benefit.

There are two types of companies that are in the best position to consider an IPO in today’s market. These are companies that are either larger (approximately $500 million in sales per year) or are growing fast. Companies of these types are most likely to grab enough attention from early investors to make an IPO worthwhile.

Our advice is not to wait until filing an IPO to think about your Directors and Officers Liability program. Generally, a D&O liability contract provides security and certainty to directors and officers by providing certain coverages to protect their risks. It is important to know that purchasing some Directors and Officers coverage as a private firm can position you to build a solid D&O program as you transition from being a private company to becoming a public firm. The coverages under a D&O policy are not universal, but establishing a relationship with the insurance underwriters before an IPO can help you develop an innovative program with clearer policy wording and leverage to receive the most favorable premium.

If your firm is seeking more guidance on planning and preparing an IPO, please contact us today. A TechAssure Association member will begin working with you to transition your insurance and risk management program as you move to public company status.

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Basic Board Governance and Risk Management Considerations for Technology Firms

Achieving sustainability, especially in today’s market, is reliant on proper board governance. As a company grows in size and its structure changes accordingly, the importance of ERM or Enterprise Risk Management is a necessity for proper board governance and seamless operation. As a business owner, you should understand the board’s duties as they apply to everyday operations. While management is responsible for overseeing operations involving risk, the board plays the most vital role in everyday practices and procedures.

Though ERM is an integral part of board governance, only half of surveyed companies have a functioning ERM plan in place, according to the National Association of Corporate Directors. This is an astonishing and worrisome figure, especially when considering the current state of today’s volatile market.

Common issues of ERM in board governance include:

  • Fragmented or incomplete oversight of risk management across the board
  • Insufficient evaluation of risk and/or board inexperience to handle risk management
  • Inability to hatch a comprehensive risk management plan because of a lack of discourse or strategic insight within the board
  • Weak or non-existent leadership from chief officers of the board concerning risk management

Though these issues can be cumbersome, there are ways to strengthen the board’s ability to conceive and execute a comparable ERM plan:

  • Establish a risk management team. A subcommittee which focuses on risk management can be a vital and effective component of board governance.
  • Integrate strategy plans and risk plans. Make sure each strategic element of the board is accompanied by an equally strong risk management plan.
  • Create a strong communicative relationship between the risk subcommittee leader and the chief officer(s) of the board. Doing so will ensure that the ERM plan is closely aligned with all board governance issues and implementations.
  • Employ a plan which will protect the board from unforeseen or catastrophic risk.

 Please contact us for more details on how our members can help your firm make the connection between risk management and board governance.