1 March 2024Analysis

Driving Captive International forward

Robin Johnson joined Newton Media in 2011, tasked with developing its captives portfolio. Over the next 13 years, before his retirement at the end of 2023, he did just that. Here he revisits some of his experiences and the portfolio’s development.

"The industry is blessed with so many genuine people who you develop key relationships with through mutual respect." Robin Johnson

When I was first interviewed by Captive International’s publisher Newton Media in 2011, what struck me was the growth the company had achieved up to that point—all self-funded. This showed good business acumen to me—a vital requirement for a small publisher. You get a gut feeling for a company and its owners. My gut told me Newton Media was an organisation I would like to work for.

I then had to learn more about the captive insurance sector. My first impression was its size: billions of dollars invested by large, international organisations on a global scale, but I quickly realised its potential for further growth. The concept of captives had been around for over 50 years and the growth potential was evident. New domiciles were entering the market and new structures were being developed. This was a growth industry where there was a genuine need to inform and educate potential and existing captive owners.

Since that time, many developments have driven the market forward and helped it reach a wider audience. Hard market conditions in the wider insurance markets helped make captive insurance more accessible and more affordable.

The growth of group captives has been important, allowing small and medium-sized enterprises to join forces with other organisations of a similar size to form a captive without having the burden of initial setup costs. Group captives remain one of the fastest-growing types of captives. Equally, many more new companies in new sectors have started to use captives.

There have also been challenges. The continuing attention of the Internal Revenue Service into 831(b)s remains an ongoing negative for the industry and one that needs to be concluded as soon as possible.

Staying relevant

As a publisher, we always looked to keep pace with industry developments and stay relevant. One of the most important milestones came in 2013 when we relaunched under the new brand of Captive International, creating a central hub for all the company’s domicile journals, news, a directory and newsletters. This also represented a big step into digital media.

Since then, there have been many other landmarks I am proud of. We have done many anniversary issues, including for CICA’s 40th and 50th industry anniversaries, in 2013 and 2023 respectively.

I would also mention the Bermuda 60th anniversary issue we published in 2022, which was very well received by the market. In 2023, we launched the extremely popular FORTY under 40, designed to showcase up-and-coming talent, something so vital to the industry. The project was a resounding success.

I am very proud of the development of Captive International and the recognition it has received. The introduction of new products to the captives portfolio has helped us expand. The industry seems to have noted and appreciated our development. It is all, of course, a team effort: of editorial, production, design, salesmanship, and marketing.

I feel I have left the portfolio in a good place and I am proud to have delivered a record year for Captive International in 2023.

It has also given me many special memories. I have been fortunate to have attended leading captive insurance conferences in many different parts of the world, including Vermont, Bermuda, and the Cayman Islands. Seeing people face to face in a business and social environment is very dear to me. The industry is blessed with so many genuine people who you develop key relationships with through mutual respect. That is something I will miss.

I am thankful for the support Newton Media and the wider industry have shown me. Director Nicholas Lipinski allowed me to develop my role on captives. He has been very supportive and really cares. I also have enormous respect for Dan Towle and what he has achieved at CICA. I am proud we achieved such a close relationship together.