Oct 23, 2017

InsMark and Executive Benefit Solutions Form Joint Venture


October 11, 2017 – Boston, MA – In a strategic move to open new markets for its 25,000 producers, InsMark, market leader in illustration software and strategies for the upscale personal and business insurance market, today signed a joint venture agreement with Executive Benefit Solutions (EBS) to serve as InsMark’s exclusive resource for executive benefit plans and programs, slated for large-privately held companies.

In this value exchange, InsMark enters the $160+ billion executive benefits’ nonqualified deferred compensation (NQDC) market for the first time; EBS gains a new and robust distribution channel for its products and services. EBS will provide plan design, funding, administration and consulting services for such benefits as NQDC plans, supplemental executive retirement plans, phantom stock and performance plans, and more.

“EBS offers InsMark a turnkey solution to executive benefits at a level of credibility and expertise sought by our producers for some time. Now, our producer-clients will be even better positioned to serve their clients’ broader needs with high-quality resources and benefit programs previously unavailable to them,” says Donnelly L. Prehn, CLU, ChFC, Board Member and Senior Adviser, InsMark, Inc.

William L. MacDonald, Managing Director of EBS, says “By InsMark opening its prized distribution channel to EBS on an exclusive basis, we can now reach a coast-to-coast insurance market and make a difference in the lives of thousands more executives and their families planning for retirement.”

Executive benefit programs address the corporate challenge to recruit, reward and retain key executive talent; these programs enable highly compensated executives to meet retirement needs by raising the savings ceiling placed on qualified plans by legislation. Further, individual life insurance policies, annuity contracts, or both, often fulfill the funding requirement for executive benefit plans.


Founded in 1983 by insurance leader, Robert B. Ritter, Jr., InsMark provides illustration software and related marketing services for the insurance and financial services industries. InsMark serves triple the number of client companies as its nearest competitor, with some 25,000 producers using its products, of which 15,000 actively subscribe to the service. InsMark’s national headquarters is in San Ramon, CA. www.insmark.com.

Jul 25, 2017

EBS Webinar on the Design of Contemporary SERPs

Companies continue to have the need to attract, retain and reward key executives in order to grow and prosper in the future. What has changed in recent years have been the factors that influence the design of the plan that is used to accomplish this objective. These factors include:

  • A shift from a focus exclusively on retention to incorporate performance
  • The impact of low interest rates in increasing the cost of traditional defined benefit plans
  • Increased scrutiny of proxy/990 forms
  • Benefit security concerns

The result has been a trend in plan design towards performance based defined contribution Supplemental Executive Retirement Plans (SERPs). A well crafted performance based DC SERP can incorporate the best features of long-term cash incentive plans, synthetic equity plans and traditional nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements.

EBS recently hosted a webinar on the design of contemporary SERPs. The recording of the webinar is available on our website by clicking on this link: SERP Webinar Recording.

A key factor in designing an effective plan is to create a direct link between performance and the contribution to the plan. Plan participants should have significant influence over the performance criteria used to measure achievement. It is often the case that a combination of individual objectives and company profitability (EBIDTA, net income) will be used. Other design considerations include the valuation, granting, vesting and ultimate payment of performance units. Whatever plan design is chosen it is essential that a comprehensive communication strategy is in place to maximize participant understanding.

Performance based DC SERP programs can be an effective tool in a variety of circumstances such as (a) private companies where phantom stock plan structures are not viable due to share valuation concerns (b) ESOP owned S-Corporations where the 100 shareholder limit and valuation concerns may make other alternatives ineffective (c) US operations of foreign owned companies where a focus on local results is important.

Non-profit organizations bring a unique set of challenges when trying to attract, retain and reward value creators to their organizations. Unlike for-profit companies, non-profits cannot offer equity to their key executives. In addition many executive benefit plans for non-profits have to comply with Internal Revenue Code Section 457(f) which limits design flexibility particularly when it comes to the vesting of benefits for participants. A performance based DC SERP design can bring clarity on how benefits are earned as well as some flexibility in when they can be received. Non-profits can also look to life insurance based programs as a way to avoid 457(f) guidelines and have potential cost recovery for the benefits.

Posted by: Don Curristan, Managing Director, EBS-West; dcurristan@ebs-west.com.