The Last Word
A Song in His Heart
RenaissanceRe founder Jim Stanard pursues his lifelong passion while continuing his insurance career.
- Lori Chordas
- January 2021
Photo courtesy of Andres Martinez.
RenaissanceRe founder Jim Stanard has always been passionate about music.
As a young man, he frequented the legendary Main Point coffeehouse in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, where he heard up-and-comers Bruce Springsteen and Doc Watson. He cashed in his childhood coin collection for a Martin D-28 guitar. He played at coffeehouses and open mic nights near Lehigh University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics. And, of course, he attended Woodstock in 1969.
But music soon took a back seat to his day job, what would become a more than 35-year career that included the founding of several insurance intermediaries and reinsurance companies, including RenaissanceRe in 1993.
During that time, however, Stanard's yearning to get back into music never waned. “I always felt that music was my unfinished business,” he said.
In 2018, he took the first step toward finishing that business, releasing his debut album, Bucket List—a compilation of folk and classic rock songs that critics said showcase Stanard's gift for poetry and narrative.
Two years later, his second album, Color Outside the Lines, debuted at No. 12 on the Euro Americana chart in October 2020. Stanard said the 11 tracks on Color Outside the Lines reflect “how I see people and the world.” Two songs feature friend Peter Yarrow of the Grammy Award-winning folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, and Yarrow's daughter, Bethany.
The skills required to become a creative artist and write songs that share a message and touch audiences, Stanard said, are similar to those needed in business.“Two of the things I learned during my career in insurance and reinsurance are the importance of setting specific goals and being committed to doing the work. I'm doing the same in music,” Stanard said. “I set goals such as to how many times a year I want to perform live, and the time I want to devote to writing songs. Repetition, practice. ... It's all very important to achieving those objectives.”
Also important is having mentors and role models to help inspire and guide you toward those goals, he said.
Stanard began his insurance career in underwriting and actuarial positions at Chubb and Prudential. He was an executive vice president at USF&G in the early 1990s, before founding RenaissanceRe. In the mid-2000s, Stanard and former Praetorian CEO Rod Fox founded several managing general agencies, along with broker/adviser TigerRisk and private equity investor firm Pelican Ventures. Last summer, Stanard stepped down as chairman of TigerRisk to pursue other insurance ventures with Pelican, including its recent purchase of Ariel Re from Argo Group.
“When I look back over the years, I'm so grateful for all the wonderful opportunities I've had in both insurance/reinsurance and music,” noted Stanard. He said he's excited to see where both paths lead and to use what he's learned as a catalyst for future songs.