Captives need better advice from their service providers: Hylant’s Towle
Captive owners will increasingly need to lean on advice from their service providers as they attempt to navigate an unfamiliar hardening market, according to Anne Marie Towle, global captive solutions leader at Hylant.
Towle said: “Changes that are happening in the market right now are making advisory more important. Captives can use more help from their service providers as they try to navigate the hardening market, for example.”
Towle joined Hylant in September 2019 with a mandate to reorganise and rebrand the group’s captive offering. Top of her to-do list was to harmonise the two sides of the business - captive management and advisory - which had previously been treated separately both by the company and the industry as a whole. To that end, Hylant’s various captive service offerings were brought under one umbrella, global captive solutions (GCS).
The idea was that making captive management and advisory work more closely together would benefit both, and, more importantly, clients. “Rebranding the captives business as GCS is about creating a single team and a single solution for our captive clients, and expanding that offering,” said Towle. “It is about delivering more top level thought leadership and strategic advice.”
Towle, who has worked at some of the bigger names in the business, including JLT and Willis Towers Watson, said: “The bigger captive service providers tend to be very siloed in their thinking. Captive management and advisory are very separate businesses. And while they will offer advisory services such as feasibility analysis, and might help develop an initial strategic plan, once the captive is established they tend to turn everything over to the management side, and be much less involved.”
Hylant was not immune to this kind of thinking, noted Towle. “Hylant has always offered captive consulting but it was not the main focus of the business. Captive management was always seen as the focus,” she said.
However, pushing one side of the business over the other will not deliver the best results for clients, said Towle. “The management side of the business is not always in a position to offer advice on how to respond to subtle changes in regulation or, quite often, even big changes in the market,” she explained.
Since rebranding to GCS, Hylant is ensuring there is far more regular contact between people on each side of the business, and training employees on both sides to give them a better understanding about what happens on the other side.
Hylant is also planning to strengthen GCS by hiring new people who share its vision of a more holistic approach to servicing the captive market. “We would like to bring in another two-to-four people over the next six-12 months, people with that well rounded experience, to work on both the management and advisory sides of the business,” said Towle.
It will take its time to find the right people, she added. “At Hylant we want to hire well rounded people that are interested in learning more about the entire business, rather than to focus only on their area of it. They might still be accountants or actuaries, but they need to develop skills in other parts of the business. It is a more integrated approach.”
While Hylant hopes its clients will notice an improvement in their service, it should also lead to greater employee satisfaction at the company, Towle said. “We want our employees to be engaged and happy,” she said. “Some people do like to specialise but it never hurts to have a better understanding of how the other parts of the business work. It certainly helps us identify who the right person to bring in is if a situation calls for more of a specialist.”
In the longer term, Hylant also sees an opportunity to grow its business outside the US. “Hylant is very US-centric because that is where we are based and the growth in captives has been based here,” she said. “But captives are growing in Europe, Asia, Japan and even South America. We definitely see an opportunity to grow in those places.”