H.W. Kaufman Group, the parent company of wholesale brokerage giant and managing general underwriter Burns & Wilcox, has been recognized as the winner of a 2018 BEST Award by the Association for Talent Development (ATD).
Kaufman is the only specialty insurance organization out of 45 global award-winning companies to receive the honor – an achievement Alan Jay Kaufman, chairman, president and CEO of H.W. Kaufman Group said “validates [Kaufman’s] commitment to providing associates with world class opportunities to grow professionally and personally, to win business and to lead the industry.”
ATD is the world’s largest association for education, training and development professionals with more than 36,000 members representing organizations in 120 countries. BEST winners are recognized for supporting talent development to achieve enterprise-wide success, as well as creating, supporting, and championing learning opportunities.
“I’m absolutely chuffed about winning the BEST Award,” said Dr. Renee Lerche, president of the Kaufman Institute and senior corporate vice president at H.W. Kaufman Group. “It recognizes our commitment to the development of our employees, and even more than that, it represents our tradition of leadership in everything we do. We’re leaders in insurance, leaders in innovation, and leaders in talent development – and that’s what the BEST Award reflects most for me.”
The Kaufman Institute serves as the hub for all education, training, and development initiatives within H.W. Kaufman Group. It provides access to professional development, expanded learning content, certifications, programs, and innovative learning tools to help Kaufman associates develop their knowledge, skills and capabilities as insurance professionals. Lerche described the talent development institute as Alan Kaufman’s “legacy” and said she admired the “significant risks” Kaufman took to pursue development opportunities for his employees.
“From the day I first talked to Alan, it was very clear he was committed to the development of his employees, and he took some significant risks to pursue that,” she told Insurance Business. “His commitment to education, training and development has really driven the Kaufman Institute [and helped turn it into] a beacon and standard bearer for our industry.
“We have a singular focus on everything we do for our employees, which is to aid the delivery of exceptional, professional client service fuelled by deep expertise. We believe in an employee life cycle of training and development at every level, and offer a wide range of services from basic skills training to specialized insurance training and executive-level development. Alan actively participates in our executive development camp and he learns from them.”
The Kaufman Institute has also played a significant role in attracting and retaining the very best talent to the firm, according to Kaufman. Prospective and existing employees are excited by the opportunity of professional advancement, which in turn makes the company more successful as a whole, he explained.
“I believe the Kaufman Institute is a major competitive advantage for H. W. Kaufman Group, because people are attracted to work for a company where they achieve professional development and they can pursue a clear road for advancement,” Kaufman added. “Professional development and the road to advancement go hand-in-hand, and the talent we’re attracted to understand and value that opportunity. By pursuing those opportunities, our talent is rising above the competition, which is helping us to sustain our success in the marketplace.”
The Kaufman Institute offers a wide range of training and development opportunities, including weekly webinars on a specialty insurance topic. According to Lerche, about 82% of Kaufman employees participate regularly in Kaufman Institute activities and programs – an engagement rate she described as “huge and unusual” in education and training. She said it speaks to the people Kaufman hires, who tend to have a craving for learning and development in their DNA.
“We also have data that shows we have a significant return on investment for the Kaufman Institute,” she added. “We see the positive impact on the bottom line and that’s why Alan keeps funding it. There’s no point in funding something that has no impact just because it’s a nice thing to do. This really is part of the Kaufman business and it’s significant in attracting and retaining the employees we want to grow our business.
“Moving forwards, we will be opening the Kaufman Institute services on to a public site for insurance professionals. We’re going to start in the US and our intention is to offer it globally to insurance professionals around the world. We’ve proven its value with our own people and we’re really excited to provide this educational one-stop-shop for around the world.”