Diversity-minded, technology-focused

Diversity-minded, technology-focused | Insurance Business America

Diversity-minded, technology-focused

Protecdiv is less than a year old and has already formed two key industry partnerships. IBA caught up with CEO Kael Coleman to find out what sets the new brokerage apart and why it linked up with a 130-year-old company

IBA: Tell us about the launch of Protecdiv. What gaps did you identify in the insurance brokerage landscape?
Kael Coleman:
We saw two needs in the marketplace. The first one was around diversity. So myself; Paul Little, our COO; and others in the company have been in financial services and insurance and reinsurance for 20 to 30 years. One of the things I think is no surprise is that we’re not the most diverse industry. Where that becomes an opportunity for us to create a company that helps us solve a need is around supplier diversity.

In public entity contracts, there are generally supplier diversity requirements, and for many larger private companies, they have supplier diversity goals where they would like to have a certain percentage of their overall vendor spend go to diverse-owned businesses – that's minority-owned, women-owned, disabled-veteran-owned businesses, and many corporates count LGBTQ-owned businesses as well.

While it’s certainly a noble goal, to be a vendor of the Fortune 2000 companies, you still have to have a similar scale to those companies, so you have to have a national scale infrastructure, top-tier expertise, access to the best goods and services available, and the infrastructure of a larger company. The challenge is that there aren't enough diverse-owned businesses to fulfill supplier diversity goals.

In insurance, it's even more acute, so the opportunity we saw to help was that we have a team that has decades of experience working with industrial-scale commercial enterprises. We have the expertise, the market access to deliver solutions and a history as individuals of being particularly innovative and driving new solutions, so we said, “Let's put all of this together and we’ll create a company that is a certified minority business enterprise, and we will be able to deliver the best solutions in the marketplace, but also deliver supplier diversity credits for our clients.”

IBA: What was the other need you sought to fill in the market?
Again, I think it’s no surprise that the insurance industry is a bit behind the rest of the world in terms of technology, and I think for very good reason. Brokers and insurers have been in business for a long time with lots of legacy systems due to M&A activity, different geographies and different lines of business, and the technology hasn’t kept up – and it hasn’t really had to.

As a startup – as a new company that started as technology nativists and building technology from day one – we believe that we can create a platform where our people are much more efficient. That efficiency allows our people to spend more time on thought work rather than the rote day-to-day manual lifting that we as brokers tend to do. We also can create new solutions and then deliver these solutions to our clients much quicker than the more established brokers.

IBA: How did your strategic partnership with Cobbs Allen and CAC Specialty come about, and benefits have you seen from it?
We were looking for a partner who could expand our reach and bring expertise in industries or lines of business to help grow our expertise, but also to bring a great servicing capability. We are building more of our own servicing capability, but we are also conscious that we are a new company, and many of the types of business we place do have some tail to them.

What we found about Cobbs Allen and CAC Specialty is that even though Cobbs Allen is 130-year-old firm, they’re very innovative and forward-thinking – they’re always trying to bring new things to their clients and new things to market – so we felt that our energies were well aligned and that the things we were trying to do to create something new, be dynamic and use technology dovetailed very well with what they were trying to do. CAC Specialty is a great example of starting something new and making some significant investments, so they are the best possible partner for us.

IBA: What’s ahead for Protecdiv for the rest of 2020 and beyond?
We think that we are very likely to grow at least to what our projected path was over the next couple of years. We're very excited about continuing to hire [and are] looking to build out more of our internal expertise. [We’re also] looking forward to leveraging the partnership with Cobbs Allen and CAC Specialty to drive new revenue for both of us, but most importantly, new solutions for clients.