Industry veterans join insurtech advisory board

Industry Veterans Join Insurtech Advisory Board | Insurance business America

Experts will help guide the company in its next phase of growth

Insurance payments platform Ascend has announced that Jim Hackbarth, former President and CEO of Assurex Global, and Robert W. Smith, former President of Agency Operations for PCF Insurance Services, have been named founding members of its advisory board.

As board members, Hackbarth and Smith will help guide the company into its next phase of growth. Ascend intends to expand its network of insurance brokers, MGAs, agency networks, insurtechs, and carriers.

Hackbarth has over 30 years of insurance experience. He began his career at IBM and held senior positions at Price Waterhouse, Policy Management Systems and Agency Management Systems (now Vertafore).

Hackbarth founded Cornerstone Partners, a consulting firm specializing in executive recruiting, early-stage investing, and startup incubation. From 2003 to 2021, he served as Chairman and CEO of Assurex Global, the world’s largest privately held commercial insurance brokerage and risk management group. He currently serves as an advisor to insurtechs and a board member of two venture capital-backed companies in the insurance sector.

“Ascend has the potential to streamline one of the most antiquated aspects of insurance,” hackbarth said. “Infrastructure and payment processes between customers, brokers, wholesalers, and carriers have lagged behind many of the other innovations within insurance, and I’m excited to see Ascend address these issues in the space as a whole.”

Robert W. Smith has more than 25 years of leadership experience in the financial products industry. He previously held leadership positions in regional and national practice groups at Acrisure and Aon, and as president of agency operations at PCF Insurance Services.

Smith recently founded Fideles Advisors, an advisory firm for independent insurance agencies, private equity investors, insurers looking for distribution information, and companies looking to align with insurance agents.

“I am excited to support and promote Ascend’s differentiated value proposition, especially for larger and more complex buyers,” said Smith. “Based on my experience collaborating with both independent agencies and major aggregators, I recognize the transformative potential of Ascend’s cutting-edge technology to optimize and modernize financial insurance infrastructure through automation. With this in mind, I believe Ascend’s approach will significantly boost the agency’s profits while also moving the industry as a whole forward into the future.”

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