Change at Top at AmWINS: Purviance to Take Over DeCarlo’s CEO Role

By | January 17, 2018

Charlotte-based global wholesale broker AmWINS Group announced that Scott M. Purviance will succeed M. Steven DeCarlo as the company’s chief executive officer, effective May 1, 2018.

DeCarlo, who has served as CEO of AmWINS since joining in December 2000, will transition into the newly created role of executive chairman and remain chairman of the AmWINS board of directors.

Purviance, currently AmWINS’ chief operating officer, has been part of the firm’s leadership team since June 2001. Prior to taking on his role as COO, Purviance served as chief financial officer from 2001-2016. He was elected to the board of directors of AmWINS Group, Inc. in November 2016.

“For the past 17 years, Scott has played an essential role in building AmWINS into the industry leader it is today,” said DeCarlo. “Scott knows our business better than anyone, and I’m pleased that he will continue to lead the strategic direction of the company.”

In addition, W.H. “Skip” Cooper will transition from his current role as president of AmWINS to vice chairman and will remain on the board of directors.

Steve DeCarlo

DeCarlo and Cooper will continue to focus on select key growth initiatives of the company, according to the announcement.

“Under Steve, Skip and Scott’s remarkable leadership, AmWINS has grown from a regional wholesale broker to a leading player in the global specialty insurance marketplace,” said Jeff Consolino, an independent member of the AmWINS board of directors who serves as executive vice president and chief financial officer of American Financial Group, Inc. “For almost two decades, Scott has been a key member of the team that has directed and managed the evolution of the business.”

In addition to Purviance’s transition to CEO, the following management changes were also announced, effective May 1, 2018:

  • James C. Drinkwater, who currently serves as president of AmWINS Brokerage, will succeed Cooper as president of AmWINS Group, Inc. Drinkwater will also retain his position as president of the brokerage division.
  • Benjamin R. Sloop, who currently serves as president of AmWINS Access, will succeed Purviance as COO of AmWINSGroup, Inc. James A. “Tony” Gresham, who has served as COO of AmWINS Access since its establishment, will succeed Sloop as president of the division.

DeCarlo, a 33-year-veteran of the insurance industry, has led AmWINS since 2000. Under DeCarlo’s leadership, AmWINS has grown to become the largest property/casualty insurance wholesaler in the United States since its formation in 1998. The firm has more than 100 locations across 18 countries and handles premium placements in excess of $14 billion annually.

One of the bigger expansions by AmWINS during DeCarlo’s took place in 2010 with its acquisition of Colemont Insurance Brokers, which gave AmWIN access to international markets and enlarged its presence in Texas. At that time, DeCarlo told Insurance Journal that being the biggest in the property/casualty wholesale sector was never the goal.

“We’ve never really set out to become a large organization. We’ve always tried to work hard on diversification, stability and, quite frankly, culture – to be the place people want to come work,” he said.

Instead, he said, the goal has been to demonstrate the value of wholesalers.

“[W]hat we’ve been trying to do, that I think has been the dream of Scott [Purviance, CFO] and I, is to prove that wholesale brokers are the great distribution structure that we believe they are. That they can survive as an independent company through the vagaries, if that’s the right way to say it, of the property/casualty, E&S (excess and surplus) up and down cycles,” De Carlo said in that interview.

Scott Purviance

He also said that the sudden growth would not change the corporate culture or the desire to keep AmWINS a place where people want to work. “All of us enjoy being part of an entrepreneurial firm and one of my jokes is that every time I go to buy a business, they meet us and they kind of like us and they get to know us and then say, ‘OK, where are the adults?’ And we’re like, ‘Oh no, we’re the adults, too. We’re the guys that actually buy the company.’

“We always want to keep that,” DeCarlo continued.

At the S&P Global Ratings Insurance Conference last June, DeCarlo reiterated his faith in wholesale brokers, proclaiming he is not afraid of competition, whether it be from insurtechs or carriers going direct to small businesses. “Bring it on,” he told the audience.

To avoid disintermediation, a broker has to bring value, he added. “I sure as hell am not worried about insurtech firms disintermediating what we do for a living. They’d better be good at their jobs because we are damn good at sales,” he continued.

At that same S&P conference, the outspoken DeCarlo defended brokers against complaints from carriers about brokerage compensation. “I recently was part of a panel in London, and people were talking about frictional cost—and both of the insurance company executives [participating] had flown over on their private planes,” he said, taking a jab at carrier executives. “When you eliminate your private plane, I’ll reduce a little bit of what I make,” he said, referencing the five cents out of every premium dollar a broker makes.

Active in charitable causes, DeCarlo was the 2014 Spirit of Life Award honoree for City of Hope. He is also one of the founders of a Charlotte-based insurance charitable organization called Community Matters, Insurance Partners of Charlotte.

He received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2009.

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