November 11, 2011

s it did for many firms, the 2008 financial crisis uncovered compliance weaknesses at The Warranty Group ($4.8 billion in total assets). "With our existing systems, we had difficulty consolidating information into a package on demand," acknowledges Jim Krygier, chief investments officer for the Chicago-based P&C insurer. "We were left waiting for month-end reports -- essentially waiting until it was too late." Fortunately, just prior to the crisis, an asset manager had pitched SaaS-based Clearwater Analytics as a value-added service, so when The Warranty Group began investigating compliance reporting solutions in early 2009, Krygier included Clearwater as one of three prospective vendors.

"During the intervening six months, Clearwater had already made significant upgrades based on user feedback," Krygier recalls. "This demonstrated an interest in listening to customers. In addition, the solution could handle all our assets, multiple basis and currencies at scale. Most important, it was user-friendly for everyone, including our board members."

After inking a deal with Clearwater in late 2009, Krygier's team began setting up and testing the solution. "The beauty of the platform is that we didn't have to stand in line behind all the other IT projects," he observes. "And the vendor will be responsible for the solution's evolution. That was very important -- we didn't want a solution that was outdated the minute we installed it."

As integration proceeded, the only notable hurdle was organizational change, according to Krygier, who notes that it was quickly overcome. "Clearwater established a constant and upbeat dialog with our team members," he explains. "This built trust and camaraderie, giving our staff the sense that Clearwater was always there to help."

When the system went live in April 2010, Krygier says, it transformed his team from reactive to proactive overnight. "At any time I can examine a portfolio anywhere in the world, regardless of whether an asset is managed internally or externally," which permits instant, granular visibility, he remarks. "When Greece's economy was spiraling, we met the calls from our CFO and the board with immediate answers based on same-day data."


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Not surprisingly, an automated solution that is continuously updated to reflect regulatory requirements, industry trends and best practices also takes the guesswork out of GAAP and statutory compliance monitoring, Krygier adds. "We just set policies and automatically receive an email if someone breaks them," he says.

Clearwater even provides the insurer with greater control over various external relationships. "The solution acts as a third-party check to ensure our asset managers are also in compliance," according to Krygier. "And we're also able to monitor assets we're beneficiaries of, which is extremely beneficial when you're licensed in so many jurisdictions."

Perhaps best of all, Krygier notes, he and his team now focus on achieving objectives rather than administrating reports. "If we want the status of a specific asset, we can drill down to individual accounts and tax lots," Krygier comments. "That level of knowledge -- and the ability to provide others with timely and actionable data -- is extremely empowering."

Case Study Snapshot:
Company: The Warranty Group (Chicago, $4.8 billion in total assets).
Lines of Business: P&C.
Vendor/Technology: Clearwater Analytics' (Boise, Idaho) SaaS-based investment portfolio reporting and analytics solution.
Challenge: Provide transparency into compliance and risk exposures.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anne Rawland Gabriel is a technology writer and marketing communications consultant based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Among other projects, she's a regular contributor to UBM Tech's ...