Welcome to the 2018 HCB SKO. This year’s theme is Momentum 2020. During this meeting, you will learn valuable skills, explore new business opportunities, network and idea-share with your peers, and build upon momentum for 2020 and beyond.


This meeting is for Sales Vice Presidents (VPs). Internal Sales associates responsible for working proactively with FA/Brokers directly and are responsible for revenue should be invited.

For Highland VPs, scholarships provide single occupancy room for program nights, meals noted on the agenda, and airfare (up to $500) for participants. Airfare should be a reasonable cost with fares over $500 being approved by corporate to qualify for reimbursement. Scholarships are based upon full participation in all meeting sessions through meeting end time.

  • Incidentals incurred while at the meeting (phone, mini-bar, etc.)


Click here to register. Online registration should be completed no later than Wednesday, December 13. Late registrations will be accepted based on hotel availability and your principal’s approval.


Business casual attire is appropriate for daytime sessions. Dinners are casual (jeans appropriate) with the exception of the Awards Dinner on Tuesday evening. On Tuesday night, gentlemen should wear a jacket or sport coat at minimum and ladies should wear business or cocktail attire.


Each meeting participant is responsible for securing airfare or alternative travel arrangements. You may make arrangements through any service you choose. Attendee scholarships reimburse up to $500 for airfare.


In case of an emergency, contact Wilma Turner (707) 494-5686 or Missy Kos (480) 239-9171.


If you register but are unable to attend, contact Wilma Turner at (205) 263-9266 or (707) 494-5686, email wturner@highland.com, as soon as possible.


The meeting will be held at the Westin, Denver International Airport. Highland Capital Brokerage has secured a block of rooms and is responsible for making room reservations once your registration is received. Please do not contact the hotel directly.

Westin Denver International Airport
8300 Peña Boulevard
Denver, CO 80249

get directions


Click here to view the agenda.


Lindsay Becker

VP, HCB Heartland–Milwaukee

Lindsay specializes in advanced planning strategies for individual and business clients through life, disability, and long-term care insurance, as well as annuities. Prior to this role, Lindsay served as Manager of Advanced Case Design at Highland Capital Brokerage-Milwaukee. In this position, she developed extensive experience with life insurance quoting, advanced market illustrations, and client presentations.

Philip S. Blancato

President & CEO, Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management

Philip Blancato is the President and CEO of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management and Chairman of the Ladenburg Investment Policy Committee. Philip is a twenty-five year veteran of the financial services industry with a specialized knowledge of portfolio and risk management, asset allocation, and macro-economic theory as well as constructing and implementing seamlessly integrated platforms of fee-based solutions.

Greg Bronico

VP, HCB Mid-Atlantic

With more than 15 years of experience in the financial services industry, Greg specializes in working with independent producers to help them identify sales opportunities and deliver the best possible solutions to their clients. He strives to provide creative, value-added solutions by keeping abreast of product changes throughout the marketplace.

J. Craig Collins

Sr. VP, Head of HighCap Financial

J. Craig Collins serves as Senior Vice President for Highland Capital Brokerage. He is responsible for national leadership of HighCap Financial, an elite group of producers within the financial services and life insurance industries that value their independence yet desire to affiliate with like-minded professionals to enhance their practice. Members are selected based on their dedication to excellence and they primarily focus on the insurance needs of high-end clientele in the areas of wealth transfer, estate, and business planning.

Kevin J. Donnelly, CLU®

VP, HCB New York Metro

Since joining HCB in 1994, Kevin’s responsibilities have focused on the development and implementation of advanced insurance concepts focusing on estate, executive compensation, and business planning. Kevin’s clients include institutional advisors, as well as independent financial planners, insurance advisors, CPAs, attorneys, and trust companies. He has expertise in the design and implementation of large life insurance portfolios and has successfully advised affluent clients including members of the Forbes 400 list.

Marty Dooley

VP, HCB Heartland–Milwaukee

Marty has been in the insurance brokerage business since 1985 when he began his career with UNUM as Disability Sales Consultant in the Chicago Regional Sales office. In 1992, Marty formed Great Midwest Brokerage Corp. (GMB) as an independent Brokerage General Agency. He was also a Founding Member of, and a shareholder in, the Advantage Insurance Network (AIN). Marty merged GMB Corp. with Highland Capital Brokerage in January 2002.

Crystal Duco

Director, Annuity Operations, Ladenburg Annuity (LTAIS)

Crystal joined Highland in 2011 and transitioned to LTAIS in May of 2017. She serves as the Director of Annuity Operations and assisted with the launch of the new enterprise FMO and transition of advisors to the new annuity platform. She oversees the daily operations of the New Business and Licensing team while maintaining and growing relationships with the Ladenburg “sister” companies, carrier sponsors, vendors, and advisors.

Robert Finnegan, J.D., CLU®

Sr. VP, Advanced Planning Attorney

Bob Finnegan, J.D., CLU® is responsible for providing advanced sales support across the company, supporting distribution in all channels and working with principals, sales vice presidents, independent producers, and financial institutions to develop business opportunities and enhanced advanced marketing solutions for clients.

Jim Gelder, CLU®


Jim Gelder, CLU®, has served as Chief Executive Officer for Highland Capital Brokerage since 2013. From 2007 until 2012, he served as Chief Executive Officer of NFP Insurance Services, Inc. (“NFPISI”) and executive vice president of National Financial Partners. In 2011, Mr. Gelder was named president of the NFP Individual Client Group. Prior to joining NFP, he served as head of the life insurance business distribution organization for ING U.S. Financial Services, where he was responsible for all individual retail life insurance distribution.

Chris Godsey

Manager, Information Technology, HCB

Chris joined Highland in 2014 as an Operations Business Analyst. Chris assisted with the launch and implementation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ClickDimensions. He also assists the marketing team with video production and editing. His role currently focuses on leveraging new technologies to enhance business processes and efficiencies.

Steve Kampwerth, CFP®

VP, HCB West

One thing Steve particularly loves about financial planning is the opportunity to draw on his entrepreneurial nature and craft his own practice. Through knowledge, information, and professional partnerships, he knows that he can present strategic solutions that are tailored to a client’s needs. One particular area is helping mass affluent families to review their current insurance portfolio to determine its efficiency in their portfolio and crafting a strategy to increase its efficiency.

Anthony Lancaster, MBA, MS-MIS, FLMI, PMP

Sr. VP, COO, HCB and Ladenburg Annuity (LTAIS)

Anthony Lancaster serves as Chief Operating Officer for Highland Capital Brokerage and Ladenburg Thalmann Annuity Insurance Services LLC. He is responsible for executing strategic enterprise roadmaps, managing information technology, and leading the company’s project management team. Anthony’s expertise includes process improvement, project management, and information technology integration strategies.

Adam Malamed

EVP, COO, Ladenburg Thalmann

Mr. Malamed has more than 22 years of experience in the financial services industry. He has served as the Chief Operating Officer of Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc. since January 2012, overseeing Ladenburg’s strategic growth and operational initiatives as well as enterprise wide collaborative projects. Prior to his current role, Mr. Malamed spent five years as the Co-Chief Operating Officer of Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. Inc., involved in overseeing the growth of the firm’s investment banking and asset management businesses, as well as managing the successful integration of Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services, Inc.’s newly acquired independent broker-dealer units.

Jon B. Mendelsohn

Chief Executive Officer, Ashar Group, LLC

Jon B. Mendelsohn serves as CEO of Ashar Group, a nationally licensed firm specializing in the Institutional Secondary Market for Life Insurance. Since launching Ashar Group in 2003, he has been an influential member of the industry, serving as an advocate for best practices and transparency. He has collaborated with members of the insurance and financial services, legal, and trust communities. He obtained years of hands-on experience in all facets of the Secondary Market by working closely with estate and business planning firms.

Paul Pistilli, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®

VP, HCB Mid-Atlantic

Paul has over 25 years of experience in multiple aspects of the financial services industry. Paul started in 1988 as a corporate controller for New England Mutual Life Insurance Company. Beginning in 1994 he built a successful private financial services practice, as well as a successful life brokerage agency. His firm was one of the first firms acquired by Highland Capital Holding Corporation in 1998. Paul remained as one of the Managing Principals of Highland Capital Brokerage until the end of 2013.

Jorge Ramirez

VP, HCB Southeast

Jorge has over 20 years of experience in the insurance and financial services industry. His needs-based approach includes an emphasis on wealth management aspects of insurance, estate planning, and business insurance for deferred compensation and buy/sell agreements. Prior to joining HCB, Jorge worked at SunTrust Bank for eight years with the Wealth Management division. He had also served as a successful regional manager with the MONY Group and had over 10 years of experience as a Northwestern Mutual life insurance specialist.

Michael J. Sapyta, CFP®, CLU®

VP, Advanced Planning, HCB

Michael Sapyta serves as an expert resource for Highland Capital Brokerage producers on customized wealth transfer solutions – from advanced plan design to implementation of sales concepts with integrated life insurance solutions. Michael works closely with financial professionals and Highland Vice Presidents to develop insurance-based planning solutions for estate liquidity, supplemental income, business succession, disability, and long-term care. Michael’s responsibilities also include proactively communicating advanced sales ideas and concepts to producers to educate, inform and provide analysis.

Mark Schubert, CRPC®

Chief Sales Officer, Ladenburg Annuity (LTAIS)

Mark provides leadership and direction for sales and marketing operations at LTAIS. This includes designing strategies for sustainable revenue growth and identify market opportunities to drive sales. With more than 18 years of experience in the financial services industry, Mark has a strong history as a skilled negotiator, prospector, and top producer who commands the full sales cycle. His focus is on developing new relationships with non-affiliated broker-dealers.

Ross Shafer

TV Host, Comedian, Business Motivator, Author and Consultant

Ross Shafer is a six-time Emmy Award winning comedian, writer, and TV Host of such shows as The Match Game on ABC, The Late Show on FOX, and Day’s End on ABC. What Ross gleaned most from show business, was how TV and movies reacted to emerging trends and human behavior shifts. In l994, he began studying how cultural influences and customer emotional connections affected organizational growth (or extinction).

Zachary Turmelle

Internal Sales Consultant, HCB Southwest

Teague Wright

Sr. VP, Distribution, HCB

Teague Wright serves as Senior Vice President of Distribution for Highland Capital Brokerage where she is primarily focused on underwriting excellence, training and mentoring to firm underwriting, consulting on cases, and case advocacy.

John Yocum

VP, HCB Mid-Atlantic

With more than 19 years of experience in the banking and sales industry, John’s primary responsibility is to assist independent financial and institutional advisors grow their business with high-net worth clients. John, together with his team of professionals in the Philadelphia office, serves as a resource for customized life insurance, disability and long term care insurance.

Greg Zahn, MBA

AVP, Institutional Distribution, HCB

Greg Zahn, MBA, serves as Assistant Vice President, Institutional Distribution at Highland Capital Brokerage. He develops, markets, and manages Highland’s straight-through processing (STP) and other industry-leading field technologies for Highland’s national institutional and property & casualty (P&C) relationships. In addition, Greg develops new relationships within the P&C marketplace.


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