New York – Change seems to be the watchword in more than just the presidential elections. In the world of insurance research and consulting, change has become the name of the game. In the latest in a series of announcements, Novantas LLC, a New York-based provider of management consultancy and information services to the financial services industries, today announced that Matt Josefowicz, former managing director of the insurance practice at Boston-based analyst firm Celent LLC, will serve as director of the newly formed Novantas insurance research and advisory services subsidiary, Novarica.

The hole at Celent was quickly filled by Craig Weber, who steps up from his role as senior research director to insurance practice leader for Celent. Known for his independent producer surveys, Weber is the primary author of the “Insurance Software Deal Trends” studies.

The news follows a flurry of activity at TowerGroup, Needham, Mass., research and advisory services firm. Deb Smallwood, previously insurance research director with TowerGroup, left the organization in early 2007 to join the insurance carrier sector as chief transformation officer of ICW Group in San Diego. In December, Smallwood announced her partnership with Cindy Maike, forming Smallwood, Maike & Associates, which also will provide consulting and research services to the insurance sector. Former director of standards planning at ACORD, Pearl River, N.Y., Maike’s resume also includes a variety of work at IBM’s insurance vertical.

Cynthia Saccocia, former area research director at TowerGroup, joined Microsoft in early 2007 while in late 2007, Mark Gorman, former senior research advisor at the firm, joined the ranks of an independent, starting his own research and consulting firm, Mark Gorman and Assoc., Minneapolis.

Meanwhile, TowerGroup has “regrouped” with the addition of insurance industry veteran David West, who, with a long history in the insurance industry, previously directed the marketing efforts at business intelligence software provider SAS, Cary, N.C. Heading up TowerGroup’s insurance practice, West added senior analyst Rachel Alt-Simmons to the organization’s staff, who joined TowerGroup in 2007 from The Hartford.

Reflecting on the movement and change taking place in the insurance research and advisory sector, Josefowicz told Insurance Networking News that he believed it was time to take a different approach to the way research and advisory firms provide information, insights and perspective on markets, operations and technology to the insurance industry. Novarica will do so through retained advisory services, published research and project-based consulting.

“We are getting away from the subscription model, and have retained an advisory services model in which the agenda is directed by the client,” Josefowicz told INN, “which means the client is under no obligation to purchase research that is not relevant to them.”

Dave Kaytes, a managing director at Novantas concurs, stating that “there is an opportunity to reinvent the way research and advisory services are delivered to financial services and insurance executives.”

As the initial member of Novarica, Josefowicz has been busy since joining the firm in November. Novarica today announced the publication of two research reports, “Key Metrics for Insurer CIOs” and “Insurance Software Activity 2005-2007: Distrib t on, Policy Administration, and Workflow,” as well as an executive brief, “Best Practices in Insurance Software Vendor Selection.” Additional research forthcoming this month includes materials on the business value of SOA.

Josefowicz will report on the SOA findings at the 1st Annual Insurance Industry Web Services & SOA Summit in New York January 23, which is sponsored by Insurance Networking News, and at the LOMA Emerging Technology Conference in Tampa, FL on January 31.

Novarica does not intend to be a “one-man show” for long: Josefowicz confirmed the addition of one senior staffer this quarter, and will be “building the firm with more analysts” in the future.

Meanwhile, Novarica announced the formation of its Insurance Technology Strategy Advisory Board, which is made up independent individuals with deep industry experience. The advisory board holds an annual meeting with Novarica clients and shares its perspective and knowledge with the Novarica core team. Current members of this board include: Judith Campbell, former CIO of New York Life; John Hodge, former CIO of XL Group; Ed McHugh, former CIO of Fidelity Investments Life Insurance; and Jeff Stoll, former CIO of Met Life Individual Business.

Novarica also will hold a short Webinar to present its research on “Key Metrics for Insurer CIOs” on January 17 at 2 p.m. EST.  For more information, visit www.novarica.com.

Sources: Novantas, INN archives

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