Westmont Associates, Inc. stands out as consulting firm also affiliated with a law firm. Together, the affiliates consist of contract/compliance specialists, state filing experts, former regulators, former insurer compliance staff, attorneys, claims experts, accountants, and actuaries. While Fredric Marro and Associates, P.C. and Westmont Associates, Inc. are separate companies, they work in tandem to aid in all their clients’ insurance regulatory compliance needs. I was lucky enough to (virtually) sit down with Nancy Stepanski, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Westmont to learn more about the affiliated companies and their significant impact on the insurance industry.
Can you tell me more about Westmont?
Our President Fredric Marro, Esq. founded Westmont over 30 years ago. He recognized the need for both legal and consulting services and started both companies accordingly. Our consulting firm is actually our law firm’s biggest client. Having a separate law firm enables us to provide our clients with not only consulting services, but meet all their regulatory and legal needs, as well. We work with our clients to provide insurance regulatory advice, insurance company formations, insurance company licensing, producer and MGA/TPA licensing, and form and rate filings among other services. Our clients are involved in every type of insurance in all 50 states and DC.
Additionally, our core values include education and volunteerism. We support local food banks and other charitable organizations throughout the year, as well as encourage all of our employees to continue their learning in the insurance field.
Tell me more about your background:
I started in the insurance field working for a small insurance company affiliated with a large corporation. I was promoted at the age of 24 to supervisor, surpassing coworkers with more seniority and experience. Early in my career, I had a dynamic supervisor who was a big advocate for education. She encouraged me to join associations and continue my learning. She actually was in the association for Life and Health Compliance Professionals and realized the need for a similar association that included Property and Casualty professionals. At her request, I was at the founding meeting of the AICP, back when it was called the Society of State Filers. I have been at Westmont for over 28 years, currently in the position of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. I am responsible for all insurance regulatory matters, including company licensing, state filings, redomestications, name changes, compliance issues and market conduct examinations. Additionally, I oversee product development and corporate risk management programs.
What is Westmont’s connection to the AICP?
We value the AICP and always encourage our employees to join and participate. Westmont’s Project Manager, Erin Burke is the current Secretary of the AICP’s Mid-Atlantic charter. I, myself, have participated in various ways throughout the years. The work the AICP does with education is so important: the scholarships offered to students, and the opportunities the association offers for several insurance designations. Westmont is a strong supporter of the AICP and its varied events throughout the year. We also host several AICP Webinars.
How did Westmont adjust to the pandemic and the new work-from-home structure?
We already operated on the cloud and were fortunate in that the transition to have a lot of our staff work from home was easy. Additionally, we were grateful to have three of our staff members committed to going to the office every day (practicing social distancing standards). This was key to the new structure as it enabled us to maintain the office and manage any hard copy materials that were still required by regulators or clients.
What advice do you have for someone starting in this industry?
It is important to start from the bottom up so you can fully understand everything going on in the insurance world. Take the INS and CPCU classes, even if its just some of them. Learn as much as you can.
What is the Westmont Wire?
The Westmont Wire is a resource we offer publicly. Information is coming in daily from the various State DOIs and bureaus. We want to interpret that data and convey it to our clients and to the industry. We try to mix up the content. Recently it was about PA requiring COVID data in filings. We also use it as a tool to communicate to the industry the different things Westmont is doing to stay ahead of the times.
Westmont started a public COVID-19 Database at the start of the pandemic, what encouraged you to create it and make it assessable to the public?
The COVID-19 database was largely available in part due to the lawyers in our affiliated law firm. New regulation was and still is coming that we thought important to consolidate and interpret for the benefit of our clients. We were one of the first firms to gather this data and we wanted to put it out to the entire industry. It is continually updated based on the COVID-19 related regulation passed by the State Departments of Insurance.
What message would you like to communicate to the insurance compliance industry?
Communication is key. Communicate with your clients, regulators, coworkers. I believe in being upfront with information and working in tandem with different departments to put forth the best work product.
We are here to meet our clients’ needs first and foremost. We are cognizant of the need for speed-to market as well as expert guidance. We understand the impact of decisions made on your long-term market conduct, compliance, and bottom line results.
To learn more about Westmont Associates, Inc., click here!
Author: Ilana Kauffman is the Director of Compliance for String and Key, proud AICP member and volunteer for the Brand & Marketing Committee.