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Q & A with Elaine Tapp,
Executive Vice President at Atlas Insurance Management

What is your background?
I’m originally from Glasgow, Scotland. My dad was a civil servant, and my mum was a primary school teacher; I have one older brother. A couple years before I left school, I managed to convince my parents to let me be a high school exchange student for my final year, so I spent a year in the Florida Panhandle – that was somewhat of a culture shock going from a city of a million people to a town of 2,000, but it was an incredible experience and I still keep in touch with the family. When I returned, I went to the University of Glasgow where I graduated with a Bachelor of Accountancy, and four years later I qualified as a Chartered Accountant with a small two-partner firm in Glasgow.
 
So why did you leave Scotland?
A couple of years after I qualified, a lot of people seemed to be asking me why I had chosen accountancy, and I found myself telling them about all the accountants and lawyers that I spoke to when I was trying to decide whether to apply to study accountancy or law at university. They all advised that if I was happy to stay in Scotland for the rest of my life then I should do law; but if I wanted to be able to travel and live overseas, then I should do accountancy. As I found myself retelling this to people, I started asking myself why I was still living in Scotland. So, I went to an international recruiter, and within six months I was on a one-way flight to Bermuda to join Mutual Risk Management (MRM).
 
Why did you choose the captive industry?
I didn’t. The job at MRM just happened to be the one that came through. I almost joined Deutsche Bank in the Cayman Islands; but they had another candidate whose fiancée had a job lined up in Cayman, so he was already moving there and he got it.
 
But you still ended up in the Cayman Islands – how?
Bermuda is beautiful and a great place to live, but it is very restrictive for ex-pats who want to settle down. Also, the things that are cute and quirky when you first arrive become frustrating after a while. It felt like floating about in a bubble with little grasp of the real world. Cayman is the perfect combination, offering the island lifestyle with enough of the “real world” to keep you grounded. There are no restrictions on buying houses or cars, and you can ultimately get status. There is a fairly well-trodden path from Bermuda to Cayman Islands for ex-pats; so, I left Bermuda, backpacked around the world for a year and stopped in Cayman on my way home. I interviewed with Martin wearing a tank top, shorts and flip flops and had a job offer in my hands by the time I boarded the plane back to Scotland. I started work at Atlas two months later.
 
Wow—Where did you visit on your year backpacking?
I spent four months in Africa, travelling through South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, followed by a few days in Hong Kong and Singapore. Australia and New Zealand were next for three months, followed by a few days relaxing in Bora Bora and a few days discovering Easter Island. The final three months were spent in South America – Ecuador, including the Galapagos Islands, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. It was a truly amazing experience; but if I hadn’t had the South America part all organized, I suspect I might have cut the trip short and headed home from New Zealand. It might sound strange, but it’s very tiring constantly planning where you’re going, what you’re going to do and where you’re going to sleep; and you long for more than two nights in the same bed.
 
How has Atlas changed since you joined back in 2006?
When I joined Atlas, there were only three people in the Cayman operation, which consisted of two adjoining offices rented from BDO. Most of the administration and captive management work was being performed by staff in the Bahamas office (we didn’t have any onshore captives). A large number of captives under management were “brass plate” clients, and Martin was printing and issuing policies. Over the last 11 years, we have grown the Cayman-based captive team, who now manages all offshore captives as well as our reinsurance pool, and moved offices twice. We have opened and closed an office in the BVI. We have opened a U.S. office in Charlotte and established a significant presence onshore with a client servicing team, an underwriting team, a business development team and a finance and compliance team. We have over 200 captives under management, and all but a few of those are under full-service management contracts. Atlas is a very different company compared to what it was in 2006. I have to add that my first day at Atlas involved building my desk and chair from flat-pack boxes. I’m glad to say that our new employees now have a somewhat different experience on their first days in the office!
 
How has your role at Atlas changed over the past 11 years?
I joined the team as a Senior Account Manager, responsible for a number of offshore captives, including Atlas’s own cell companies and reinsurance pool. My portfolio changed over the years and has included some of the bigger traditional insurance programs, but I was always involved with the pool and training other staff as they came onboard. As Atlas grew, I gradually became more and more involved in the corporate finance and compliance side of the business, and it was eventually decided that these two functions required a dedicated person. I filled that role for three years until the restructuring in 2016. As Executive Vice President, I am now responsible for harmoniously integrating all elements of the business, defining and delivering the agreed financial objectives, making the vision concrete and communicating it, leading special projects and captaining the ship.
 
Where do you see Atlas going in the next 5 years?
Atlas has a well-diversified client base and manages all types of captives. Like many other managers, we have seen considerable growth in enterprise risk captives for the middle market in recent years. At the same time, our focus on building relationships with carriers, program managers and agents has resulted in Atlas managing an increasing number of larger captives. In the near future, we expect group and agency captives to form an even larger part of our overall client portfolio.
 
Fun questions:
• What’s the most unusual job you’ve ever done?
Selling packs of bacon door-to-door on a Saturday morning

• What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?  
Bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge in Zimbabwe (I’m terrified of heights!)

• What is at the top of your bucket list?  
A trip to Iceland

• What’s your favorite music album?  
Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf

• What’s your favorite food?  
Sushi

• Do you have any pets? 
I have three rescue pets – two 10-year-old cats named Fred and Ginger and a 5-year-old dog named Georgie.

• If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money? 
Buy new premises for the Cayman Islands Humane Society
Buy my parents a condo in Cayman
Buy a huge piece of land to open an animal sanctuary for all the animals that never manage to tug on people’s heartstrings enough to be taken to their forever homes

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