Now, 2019 marks a new adventure for the veteran in the industry. This month he takes on the role of president of the Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA), which represents the industry of surplus lines during what he describes as "a very bright and exciting time".
After graduating, Cavaness started working as a casualty insurer before joining Gallagher in St. Louis in 1986. At Gallagher he worked in 1990 from marketing representative to vice president, a position he held until he moved to Gallagher's home office outside of Chicago in 1996 to take charge of his international department of special risk services.
In 1997 Cavaness founded the Risk Placement Services (RPS) from the center of Chicago. The company started with four employees (a victim broker, a real estate agent and two assistants) and without a name or market support. And their guess has certainly paid off. RPS is now one of the largest retail and specialty brokers, managing general agents and program managers in the US and currently employing more than 3,000 professionals across the country.
What is the secret behind RPS & # 39; important growth story of the past 20 years? According to Cavaness, it was all about exploiting opportunities to expand the business both organically and organically through mergers and acquisitions (M & A) … and & # 39; a bit of luck & # 39; to use.
"We have done a large number of mergers and acquisitions for more than 20 years," said Cavaness. "We have merged with many good companies and our success in these mergers has been remarkably good, mostly due to the culture of our organization and our ability to help new partners with things such as market access, resources, training and development – anything that smaller companies may not be able to afford on their own, we aim for all our mergers to get 1 + 1 at 4, 5 and 6. It's really nice to see when it works. "
Market consolidation is the & # 39; biggest change & # 39; that Cavaness has seen during his tenure on the E & S market. He described the MGA and wholesale broker market as "very fragmented" and overburdened when he first set up RPS. Now the markets are more concentrated, which in his opinion is partly due to the need, partly because of the resources and the services companies have to deliver today, and partly because of the consolidation trend because baby boomers retire and find ways to make money with their life's work.
"I have also seen how the professionalism of the industry has improved enormously," Cavaness told Insurance Business. "If you go back 20 years, there was a bit of a Wild, Wild West mentality on the E & S market, which has changed for the better and we are more transparent and professional today than ever before. of the edges and the cutting of the corners today As an industry we keep ourselves to much higher standards than 20 years ago. "
Part of that positive sector shift can be attributed to the hard work of the WSIA – a merger of the American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA) and the National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices (NAPSLO) – which meets the needs of the E & S insurance represents professionals in the US. Cavaness has served as vice president of the board of directors of the WSIA since 2010, and in February 2019 he is in charge of the presidency.
"I am very much looking forward to the opportunity to serve the sector as president of the WSIA," noted Cavaness. "I am also very enthusiastic about the health of the industry and the way we all work together to do better." "I continue to hear about the challenging pricing environment." We have been very lucky that the industry of excess lines has been quite healthy. achieved from a financial perspective The E & S sector performed better than other parts of the company We are healthy, we are growing and I think we have a better stock today than we were in the past The future looks very bright out. "
Under the leadership of Cavaness, the WSIA will continue to invest in the future, focusing on up-and-coming talent in the U40 group and providing the networking opportunities needed to advance the industry. The association also offers educational resources from access to the executive level, legislative guidance and up-to-date information on emerging industry trends, risk classes and products.
"I really can not emphasize enough how well-positioned, focused and dedicated WSIA employees are to represent the interests of the members," adds Cavaness. "I am very happy to represent the industry alongside such a professional team."