Ascend Announces Appointment of Jim Hackbarth And Robert W. Smith As Founding Members Of Advisory Board
Today, Ascend, the first modern insurance payments platform, announced that Jim Hackbarth, former President and CEO of Assurex Global, and Robert W. Smith, former President, Agency Operations at PCF Insurance Services, have been appointed as founding members of Ascend’s advisory board.
Jim Hackbarth joins with over 30 years of experience in insurance. Starting his career at IBM, Jim has held senior management positions at Price Waterhouse, Policy Management Systems, and Agency Management Systems (now Vertafore). He then founded Cornerstone Partners, a consulting firm specializing in executive recruiting, early stage investing and incubating startups. From 2003-2021, he served as the President and CEO of Assurex Global, the world’s largest privately-held risk management and commercial insurance brokerage group. He now serves as an advisor to insurtechs and a board member to two venture capital backed companies in the insurance sector.
“Ascend has the potential to streamline one of the most antiquated aspects of insurance. Payments infrastructure and processes between customers, brokerages, wholesalers, and carriers have lagged behind many of the other innovations within insurance, and I am excited to see Ascend tackling these issues for the space as a whole,” said Jim Hackbarth.
Robert W. Smith brings over 25 years of experience as an accomplished operational and strategic executive leader in the financial products distribution industry. He has previously held regional and national practice group leadership positions with two of the ten largest risk advisory and insurance brokerage firms in the industry, Acrisure and Aon, which expanded their scope to become diversified financial institutions. Smith served as President, Agency Operations at PCF Insurance Services, a multi-state insurance brokerage aggregator with over 140 agencies throughout the United States. Recently, Robert founded Fideles Advisors, an advisory firm providing transformative financial and operational outcomes for independent insurance agencies, private equity and investors, insurers seeking distribution insights, and businesses seeking alignment with insurance agents.
“I am excited to support and promote Ascend’s differentiated value-proposition, especially to the larger and more complex buyers,” Smith stated. “Drawing on my experience collaborating with both independent agencies and major aggregators, I recognize the transformative potential of Ascend’s cutting-edge technology in streamlining and modernizing the financial insurance infrastructure through automation. Given this, I believe Ascend’s approach will significantly boost agency earnings, while at the same time advancing the industry as a whole into the future.”
As members of Ascend’s advisory board, Jim and Robert will leverage their combined expertise in guiding the company toward its next phase of growth. Their contributions will further strengthen the significant partnerships that Ascend has established over the past year. Ascend aims to expand its network of top-tier insurance brokerages, agency networks, insurtechs, MGAs, and carriers to maximize the benefits of its product offerings and provide clients with value-accretive outcomes.
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