The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) has announced that president and CEO Bob Rusbuldt will retire in 2023. He is longest tenured Big “I” top executive, having served for 23-years at the helm.
Rusbuldt informed the Big “I” national board of directors of his retirement at a meeting in Niagara Falls, NY, over the weekend.
Rusbuldt joined the Big “I” in 1986 and took on the CEO role in 2001 after leading the association's government affairs department for many years. During his time with the association, he has overseen major initiatives, including:
- The inception of Big “I” Markets (a market access program for agent members);
- The formation of BIRC (a reinsurance company) and InsurBanc (a bank catering to independent insurance agencies);
- The implementation of Trusted Choice® (a marketing brand for members) and TrustedChoice.com (a consumer-facing agent locator and company);
- The creation of Big “I” Hires (a national hiring resource for the independent agency channel); and
- The establishment of the Trusted Choice Disaster Relief Fund and COVID-19 Relief Fund for member agencies in need, among other notable innovations.
Most recently, Rusbuldt steered the association through the COVID-19 pandemic and the celebration of the association's 125th anniversary. Additionally, he was recognized for his contributions to the industry over the years, including being named one of Insurance Business magazine's world's top insurance leaders on its Global 100 list.
Commenting on the insurance leader's retirement, Bob Fee – president of Fee Insurance in Kansas and Big “I” immediate past chair, who presided over the Big “I” board meeting – said Rusbuldt's impact on the association, its independent agent and broker members, and the industry “cannot be overstated.”
“The independent agency system is stronger and better today, thanks to more than two decades of Bob's incredible leadership. With his drive, work ethic, and genuine dedication to our members, he is a changemaker who has elevated the IA channel. Bob's close relationships with so many key players in the industry have made an indelible mark,” Fee said.
As part of the turnover process, the Big “I” executive committee named Charles Symington (senior vice president for external, industry, and government affairs) Rusbuldt's successor, effective August 31, 2023.
Like Rusbuldt, Symington has a long history with the Big “I,” having been with the association since 2004. He oversees federal and state government affairs, political affairs, grassroots, industry relations, and communications and media affairs.
Commenting on Rusbuldt's successor, Fee said: “Charles is the perfect choice to lead our association going forward and building on Bob's legacy. With his extensive industry experience in both the public and private sectors and his impeccable connections on Capitol Hill, the Big ‘I’ will be well positioned for further growth and strength in the future. Our agent leaders and staff have always respected Charles and enjoyed working with him, and we look forward to seeing where he takes our organization in the years ahead.”