The Worldwide Broker Network (WBN), the world’s largest independent broker network and one of the world’s five largest broking entities, has appointed Olga Collins (pictured) as chief executive officer, effective April 12, 2021. She takes the helm from Francie Starnes (pictured below), who will act as CEO Emeritus through 2021.
Born and raised in Poland, Collins is multilingual and has a passion for global business issues. She joins WBN from Beecher Carlson Insurance Services, a specialized large account division of Brown & Brown, Inc., where she led the multinational practice for the last seven years. Before that, she spent 15 years at UPS serving as a risk manager.
Founded in 1989, today the WBN has more than 100 member firms across 90 countries, and revenues at the end of 2020 of more than US$6 billion. Beecher Carlson has been a member of the WBN for six years, which is how Collins became actively involved with the broker network. She has been a member of the WBN Board of Directors since 2019 and is head of WBN’s Young Professionals Academy.
“I’m delighted that we have attracted a leader of Olga’s calibre as our next CEO,” said Alex Gilmore, chairman of WBN’s board. “The WBN Board followed a rigorous selection process including engaging external executive search and as a result we have not only selected an outstanding candidate but one that has such an excellent understanding of our network.
“Olga’s impressive track record of building international insurance relationships and her time as a risk manager gives her a deep understanding of client needs. This is an exciting moment for WBN, as we expand and further strengthen our network as the insurance and benefits broker network of choice for multinationals, and Olga is the ideal candidate to lead us forward.”
Collins expressed her excitement to “take the reins at WBN”. She said: “As we emerge from the pandemic, WBN will be helping members to grow their business and seize opportunities that economic changes will bring. WBN’s goal is to support members as they help their clients manage risk, protect their businesses and support benefits for their workforces - a winning combination to allow them to grow faster and stronger. I’m looking forward to getting started and building upon such a solid foundation.”
The new CEO succeeds Francie Starnes, who has had a distinguished career in multinational insurance built over four decades in the industry, including a 23-year career at AIG prior to joining WBN. Over the last five years, Starnes has transformed WBN by establishing a comprehensive headquarters operation and building a professional leadership team. During her leadership tenure, the network has expanded its membership during a period of intense consolidation in the broking industry.
“We’re grateful to Francie for her commitment and creative leadership, which together with her disciplined approach to financial strength, has been instrumental in the growth and composition of WBN,” said Gilmore. “Francie’s governance during the pandemic, particularly in transforming our global conferences to virtual events, has been outstanding. We are fortunate to have a comprehensive CEO succession process with Francie’s future contributions as CEO Emeritus.”
Starnes commented: “It has been a privilege to lead WBN and to work with so many talented and dedicated individuals. I’m immensely proud of the work of the entire WBN HQ team and the value we created together for members, clients and sponsors. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Olga closely since 2018. Olga is an exceptional and proven leader, and I am very optimistic about the future of WBN under her leadership.”
Beecher Carlson announced that Collins will be replaced by Adrian Lo and Scott Swinford, who will co-lead the multinational practice as vice presidents, reporting directly to chief operating officer Bill Daly.
“We’re so excited to continue to work with Olga in her new role as WBN CEO,” said Daly. “She will bring a member and client perspective to the organization that will be extremely valuable to WBN as well as Beecher Carlson as a member. We’re also happy about the opportunity this gives Scott and Adrian to expand and grow their roles at Beecher Carlson. They will provide our clients with exceptional multinational service and experience.”