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Futurity First's New CIO Looking at Web Services

Futurity First CIO Keith Raymond says shoring up the company's web presence is one of his top goals.

The frenetic world of the start-up isn't for everyone. But Keith Raymond, the first CIO for middle-market brokerage Futurity First, embraces the challenges that go along with joining a company whose initial IT decisions were influenced by a rapid growth strategy - even if some of those early decisions require some untangling to make things right.

"Like any cost-conscious start-up, Futurity First was formed with a number of talented people who wore many hats," Raymond says. "Because the decision-making process was a little disparate and decentralized, and speed to market was critical for a start-up to get off the ground quickly, we've had some good decisions and some decisions we needed to reconsider."

Raymond is responsible for the development of Futurity's technology and e-commerce initiatives, as well as management of the Rocky Hill, Conn.-based company's IT group. He says shoring up the company's web presence is one of his top goals. According to Raymond, Futurity First is looking at many online options to improve distribution of its product, including social media and mobile services, both for the benefit of its agents and its customers. Better web infrastructure, he notes, will also help the company deal with its carrier clients.

"The initial short-term focal point is really an evaluation of our current use of the web," he explains. "How can we optimize the user experience of our agents, our current and future clients, and the integration of our broad portfolio of carriers? Is there an opportunity to be more effective and efficient, and how do we use the web to do that?"

Raymond also hopes to develop a strong collaborative partnership between the business and IT. "The team is very open to a collaboration to developing out the thought process and solutions for how you can improve the business," he says.

A former CIO at Trumbull Services, a subsidiary of The Hartford Financial Services, Raymond comes to Futurity First following a stint at MassMutual, where he was assistant VP of distribution and field technology. At MassMutual, he relates, he worked with a large captive agent population similar to that of Futurity First, which has 15 branches nationwide. That experience, Raymond says, is one of the reasons he's confident about his new role.

"Futurity wanted someone who knows and has the experience of a start-up but also has the experience of the industry and supporting a large agent population," he comments. "Throughout my career I have worked with business models similar to Futurity, with a field population that I supported in a technology leadership role."

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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