EisnerAmper Q&A with Brad Roeber, Executive Director, California Insurance Guarantee Association (“CIGA”)
October 18, 2021
By Elana Margulies-Snyderman
The California Insurance Guarantee Association (“CIGA”) is a statutory association that pays claims for people who purchased insurance from companies that became insolvent. Since its inception in 1969, it has paid claims following nearly 150 insolvencies. EisnerAmper visited with Brad Roeber, Executive Director, who shared his outlook for CIGA’s Board of Governors, emphasizing the importance of strategic planning for the board’s future.
EISNERAMPER:Before we dive into the importance of strategic planning for the future of the board of governors, I would like you to share some of CIGA’s and the board’s greatest accomplishments.
ROEBER: CIGA prides itself on taking care of people who have fallen victim to insolvency by ensuring we make them whole again (subject to our statutory provisions). That mission is strongly reflected in our board of governors as each and every one of our governors genuinely cares about the organization and the people we serve.
One anecdote I wanted to recount is from November 2018. There was a Camp Fire in Northern California that caused houses to burn down. Within five days, we began issuing checks to the folks who had lost everything.
EISNERAMPER: On the other hand, I wanted to ask you to address some of the greatest challenges and hurdles the organization and the board have faced, and what steps have been taken to conquer them?
ROEBER: Twenty years ago, there was great pressure on the workers’ compensation insurance system in California, and several companies became insolvent. CIGA received more than 100,000 workers’ compensation claims in a short period of time. We had to be proactive to raise substantial capital at that time, including floating bonds. Over the past 10-year period, we have successfully addressed our financial challenges and are now ready to face the next challenge.
EISNERAMPER: Strategic planning has never been more urgent for CIGA’s Board of Governors. Why did you decide to appoint a third party to assist in a discussion of your strategic plan?
ROEBER:The board chair thought it was an optimal time to do an exercise on strategic planning with the entire board of governors in order to plan for the future. Appointing a third party to facilitate conversation with the board chair and amongst the board members created independence from me spearheading it myself and, hence, I was able to actively participate in the workshop alongside the board members. I also felt that having an outsider lead the session might inspire all board members to speak up on issues that were important to them.
EISNERAMPER: What was the most successful part of the strategic planning process?
ROEBER: The process was tailored to the organization’s board of governors. Matthew Kerzner, Ph.D., Managing Director in the Center for Individual and Organizational Performance at EisnerAmper, led the strategic planning session. He set it up in a way that worked for us, despite the fact that half the board of governors were physically present, and the other half were on Zoom. An important point to emphasize is that the session fostered the opportunity for all board members to interact and provide their points of view.
EISNERAMPER:What did you and the board learn from the strategic planning process?
ROEBER: Our board meetings are generally focused on covering our financials, audits and CIGA “matters of the day.” The strategic planning session allowed board members to provide feedback to their colleagues as well as to CIGA’s management. It fostered dialogue amongst our board members and allowed every member an opportunity to share their outlook on where CIGA should go in the future. It’s important to note that these board positions are unpaid, and our governors are busy executives who are here because they really care about the mission of our organization.
EISNERAMPER: How did the strategic plan help you to address board communication, diversity and inclusion, acclimating new members, short- and long-term goals of the CIGA and the board, and more? And what were the most positive outcomes?
ROEBER: Board Communication: It fostered open dialogue amongst our board members.
Diversity and Inclusion: We created an “alternate “program to build a diverse pipeline of candidates. The program affords non-board members the opportunity to attend meetings, so they are prepared to fill in if a current board member departs.
Acclimating New Board Members: As mentioned, the “alternate” program invites non-board members to attend board meetings following onboarding sessions with the executive director and other CIGA staff members.
Short- and Long-Term Goals of the CIGA: We have solid plans in place to address potential insolvencies. We have a catastrophic insolvency plan, a business continuity plan and an incident response plan. In the short term, we routinely meet with third-party administrators to determine how they will help us if we have a challenge.
Other Areas: As previously mentioned, but I want to drive this point home, when we meet in person again as a board, I hope that all board members will be comfortable speaking openly. I respectfully challenge the board to do just that!
eISNERAMPER: If you can change one thing about CIGA and the board, what would it be?
ROEBER: I don’t think there is anything I would change. CIGA’s management and board of governors are well aligned.