Clark Payan is IIABCal’s Chief Executive Officer and is responsible for the daily management of this important industry association. He works directly with the IIABCal Executive Committee and Board of Directors to implement policy and coordinates IIABCal’s strategic planning process.
We sat down with Clark to learn more about him and IIABCal.
State Fund: “How did you come to your current position?”
Clark: “I grew up in an independent insurance agency family. My father started his business and worked out of the garage. In a family of four boys, our father didn’t pressure us to join the business. He told us, ‘Go to school and study what you enjoy, and don’t worry about what you will do later on.’ I graduated college as an art major.”
Clark never thought he would work in the insurance business… until a week before graduation. He started out working for the family agency in Illinois and then moved to Denver where he worked for Aetna. Single and in his late 20’s, he came to California in the mid 80’s, where he met his future wife, Terry, at a broker event. While in California, he worked as Agency Services Director for IIABCal. He and Terry married in 1988, and they went back to Chicago for 11 years so he could work in the family insurance business. The opportunity to return to California came in 1999 and when Jerry O’Kane retired as CEO of IIABCal in 2004. Clark was tapped to fill his shoes.
State Fund: “What makes your job unique?”
Clark: “Managing an association in the 6th largest economy in the world means constant changes and challenges. The California business culture is very different and much more competitive than what I experienced in Chicago. Business innovation drives California, which I find very motivating.”
State Fund: “What’s the best advice you were ever given?”
Clark: “When I started at Aetna as an underwriter and marketing representative, my father told me to ‘be helpful’ and ‘a problem solver”. Helping someone out helps to build relationships. That was the best advice I ever received.”
State Fund: “Tell us about IIABCal. How many broker members does IIABCal currently have?”
Clark: “IIABCal has approximately 400 agency members, representing approximately 12,000 insurance industry employees. That number has changed quite a bit over the years primarily due to mergers and acquisitions. In 2006, we probably had 900 to 1,000 member agencies, which were smaller, representing probably closer to 10,000 insurance employees.
To best serve today’s members, IIABCal is focusing on new products, new services and new education classes. Our diverse members all have different needs and our goal is to provide services uniquely valuable and relevant to each member. We try to keep our members apprised of what is going on in the insurance industry and the technical aspects of the business. We also work with our lobbyist, John Norwood to keep our hand on the pulse of the insurance industry in California and have a voice in the conversations surrounding any insurance legislation that may arise. We also host several conferences every year such as InsurPATH and the Blue Ribbon Conference in Hawaii and a long list of webinars that our members can attend. Plus, we support various local events throughout the state.”
State Fund: “How important is the relationship between State Fund and IIABCal?”
Clark: “Our relationship with State Fund has been one that has stood the test of time. State Fund has had many changes over the last 20 plus years and together, we have been able to have an ongoing relationship. We appreciate the open dialog and the ability to pick up the phone and have a conversation with the key people at State Fund. We have appreciated the support and sponsorship that State Fund has provided to IIABCal and your presence at our events over the years. We also appreciate your participation at the many local events that are held throughout the state.”
State Fund: “How can we build upon the relationship between IIABCal and State Fund going forward?”
Clark: “Continuing to keep the communication and dialogue open is the key to our successful relationship. We can help by providing you with the current broker agent perspective and feedback on any potential changes to future broker agreements or current issues that you may be facing.”
State Fund: “What advice would you give young people thinking of getting into the insurance brokerage business today?”
Clark: “Think of yourself as a problem solver. Whether you have insurance experience or not, try to hook up with an agency that has an established training program that will support your career path development. Find a mentor and be a sponge. Soak up all you can by watching, listening and doing.”
State Fund: Special thanks to Clark Payan for spending time with us today.