Francine D. Fetyko, B.A., FLMI
President and Senior Consultant
Employed Insurance Industry 1966
First Consulting 1969
Founded in 1969, First Consulting & Administration Inc., has provided regulatory and compliance consulting since before such issues were a major concern for all insurance executives and managers. Today, First Consulting, led by Francine Fetyko, President and CEO, is uniquely positioned to respond to the increasingly complex regulatory environment faced by insurance companies. First Consulting has assembled a team of professionals, and is supplementing them with carefully selected First Corporate Alliance Partners.
Fetyko has an extensive accounting, actuarial, systems and management background with experience in all aspects of administration of life and health, casualty and TPA operations. This experience has proven extremely valuable both to First Consulting's clients and the firm itself, as we position ourselves for the new millennium.
"Today, First Consulting is uniquely positioned to assist insurance companies as they redefine their response to regulators and customers alike," Francine says. "We are focusing our energy on an orderly and planned pattern of growth and partnerships while continually emphasizing responsive, quality service to our clients."
Joe Bieniek, CPCU, AIE, CRM, CCP, CIC, ARC, MCM, AIS, AU, AINS
Vice President and Senior Consultant
Employed Insurance Industry 1976
First Consulting 2012
As a business strategist, Joe is focused on the compliance and regulatory needs of the insurance industry working for insurance companies and agents. His insurance industry experience and background combine to fashion a professional who has established effective compliance procedures; developed successful relationships nationwide; implemented software products and introduced process changes that improved efficiencies and streamlined communication.
“The positive reputation of First Consulting & Administration coupled with my previous insurance company, vendor and NAIC experiences makes me proud working in the core activities as an industry leader” says Bieniek.
Joe currently serves on the Board of Directors of IRES. Within the CPCU Society, Joe serves as an elected Board of Director of the Kansas City Chapter and as Co-Chair of the Regulatory and Legislative Interest Group Committee. Joe is the recipient of the 2002 Robert W. Lennon Award presented by the Association of Insurance Compliance Professionals (AICP) and the 2001 President's Award from the AICP in recognition of his service and dedication to the AICP.
John B. Palmer, III, B.B.A., J.D., CLU, FLMI, ChFC, AIRC, ACS
Vice President and Senior Consultant
Employed Insurance Industry 1967
First Consulting 1986
To assist today's insurance executives and managers, more than just narrowly focused knowledge is needed. A balance between the big picture and details is essential. Palmer's wide range of experience, from agent to company vice president to attorney, allows him to apply that type of balance to benefit First Consulting's clients and to supplement First Consulting's team with FCA Partners.
Palmer's areas of expertise include policy and contract drafting, clients' regulatory filing and approvals, advertising compliance and other regulatory issues, particularly life, annuities, long-term care and critical illness. He has provided legal advice to policyowner service and claims operations. He has assisted in the development of life and annuity products from term to equity-indexed, as well as long term care, critical illness and specialty property and casualty products.
"At First Consulting," John says, "we have a team that can combine new and innovative ideas with proven principles and methodology to get results. Our FCA Partners each have the same type of innovative team."
Jerry L. Wickersham, B.S., J.D., AIRC
Vice President and Senior Consultant
Employed Insurance Industry 1976
First Consulting 1987
The job of insurance regulation has become more difficult and the number of form filings that First Consulting processes each month has increased dramatically. Today, more than ever, it is important to understand what Insurance Departments expect in the way of new product filings. With experience as a former regulator and compliance manager for national insurance companies, Wickersham is able to bring the proper perspective to the table when dealing with insurance regulators.
"When creating new or innovative products, or when dealing with problem disapprovals, you must be able to pick up the phone and talk with the regulators to find out their views on the issue at hand." says Jerry. Being a former regulator with an insurance compliance background helps open the door to find solutions to problems encountered during product development or when handling department disapprovals.
Wickersham's areas of expertise include policy and contract drafting, with a particular emphasis on health insurance and mandated benefits, policy form filings, market conduct and general compliance issues. He has also assisted in the development of life and annuity products, stop-loss insurance and other special risk policies.
C.J. Rathbun, BFA, FLMI, HIA, CCEP, AIRC
Employed Insurance Industry 1992
First Consulting 1995-2000, 2010
C. J. Rathbun is the Senior Consultant for the First Consulting Operational Compliance and enterprise risk management consulting practice. “The breadth of operational compliance and the necessary 'stepping up' of compliance risk management is more challenging than ever. First Consulting offers services to meet these challenges,” says C.J., “Compliance program assessments as well as outside assistance for external reviews have become more critical with changes to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations (FSGO)."
This practice provides companies assistance to:
- Assess consistency with the 7 elements of compliance in the FSGO,
- Determine compliance requirements in new markets,
- Assess non-financial operational risks, and
- Measure market-conduct uniformity with company and regulatory standards.
Previously, C. J. spent two years in the Market Regulation department of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Prior to that time, she established a 10-year proven track record as a Qualified Assessor for the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association (IMSA). She led internal and independent company reviews, and helped companies address operational and market conduct challenges.
Her IMSA assessments included life insurance, annuities and long-term care insurance. Additionally, her mock market conduct exams for health and property/casualty companies expanded her skills to include relative risk assessment of any company’s functions. Today she continues to track the focus of regulators to help clients identify and address such issues.
Rathbun is a graduate of the University of Missouri, Kansas City. She is currently working toward her Master's in Adult Education and Training at Park University.
She helped establish the industry’s only advertising compliance training vehicles: the annual First Consulting Advertising Seminar beginning in 1999 and the Insurance Advertising Compliance Association (IAdCA) founded in 2001, where she currently serves on the Board of Directors. She is a member of the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, from whom she earned her Certified Compliance & Ethics Professional (CCEP) designation in 2011. In addition to presenting and training in these three venues, she has also presented sessions at other industry and regulator meetings.
Carol S. Stern, B.A, FLMI, AIRC, ACS
Employed Insurance Industry 1983
First Consulting 2013
Carol Stern is the newest addition to the First Consulting Operational Compliance and enterprise risk management (ERM) consulting practice. With 30 years of experience in the industry, she brings a Chief Compliance Officer perspective to the practice for insurance, annuity, retirement and wholesale broker dealers. For the past 10 years, she coordinated the compliance risk management function in implementation of policies, procedures and reporting to establish and ERM program including development of key risk indicators and a formal risk assessment process.
As Head of Corporate Compliance & Ethics, she helped draft and implement a new Code of Conduct and related policies with a suite of new Corporate Compliance training courses for employees. She helped establish a corporate compliance program in accordance with Federal Sentencing Guidelines and to implement a new Whistleblower policy in response to the Dodd Frank Whistleblower Rule.
As Chief Money Laundering Officer, she implemented the USA Patriot Act requirements for multiple insurance companies and broker dealers and coordinated an IRS audit of the program.
Carol was formerly the Director of Legislative and Regulatory Services at the ACLI where she implemented the online version of the law and compliance services. She has been a frequent industry speaker at the compliance meetings for the ACLI, ALI-ABA, and the Canadian Life and Health Compliance Association.
As a graduate of Montclair State University and a former teacher, Carol has a passion for developing and delivering targeted compliance training to all areas of insurance company and broker dealer staff. In the past few years, she has developed and delivered training on complaint handling, ethics, building a culture of compliance, stranger-owned life insurance, suspicious activity report writing, and red flags for money laundering.
Susan Sulfaro, B.A, J.D., FLMI
Employed Insurance Industry 1990
First Consulting & Administration, Inc. 2013
Former Director of Compliance and Assistant Counsel for nationwide life and health insurers. Responsible for policy development and drafting with focus on accident and health and life products.
Home office insurance company experience includes management of the product drafting and filing team for exempted accident and health products, life insurance and annuities. Susan was the primary regulatory attorney and handled all market conduct examinations, and managed the advertising review team and the annuity suitability process. She is knowledgeable about eSign laws, the use of electronic applications, and the direct marketing of insurance products through direct mail over the internet.
“I look forward to assisting clients with product development and drafting and helping our clients achieve their goals of bringing new life, annuity, accident and health products to the market.” says Sulfaro.
Susan is a former Certified Independent Assessor for the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association (IMSA) that assessed life insurance companies to validate compliance with the IMSA Principles and Code. She has extensive experience with accident and health products deemed exempt from mandated benefits requirements. Worked with both individual and group accident and health products, using group trusts and associations as policyholders and other types of discretionary groups.
Susan is admitted to the Bar in Michigan and has degrees in English Literature and Language and Law.
Scott D. Sheffer, FLMI, CLU, AIRC, HIA, MHP
Employed Insurance Industry 1980
First Consulting 1997
Starting in the insurance industry as an agent in 1980, Sheffer has a broad range of experience including such functions as policyowner service, product development, product training, advanced sales and marketing support for life and health carriers.
Scott notes: “During this time of change with many assumptions, acquisitions and mergers taking place, knowledge and experience combined with responsiveness and flexibility are imperative. First Consulting can provide these.”
Sheffer has a degree in Marketing. His expertise also includes TPA licensing, Company licensing and corporate amendments via the UCAA, plus policy drafting with an emphasis on health insurance and mandated benefits.
Sean P. Cox, B.A., HIA, MHP
Employed Insurance Industry 1995
First Consulting 1995
Sean feels that First Consulting’s team is uniquely positioned to assist clients with their regulatory and compliance needs. “Our team has the combination of skills and experience to get projects done quickly and efficiently with a high level of accuracy.”
He has worked closely with SERFF since its beginning and participated in numerous SERFF committees, plus focus and testing groups. Cox is experienced with group and individual life, annuity, health, property and casualty filings, workflow management, developing and implementing successful product filing strategies. He also played a key role in the initial development of First Consulting’s On-Line Research Services.
Cox has a degree in History from the University of Missouri. He is a frequent speaker and contributor at regional and national industry and SERFF conferences. Sean has also held numerous officer positions within the Association of Insurance Compliance Professionals (AICP).
Claire Miller, BS, CPCU, AIC
Employed Insurance Industry 1993
First Consulting 2013
Claire Miller is an Associate Consultant for First Consulting. “First Consulting’s Co-Sourcing concepts allows us to meet the specific needs of our clients. We can be as involved as the client wants in order to meet their compliance needs.”
Claire’s background is in Property and Casualty. She began her career as a life and health agent, but quickly moved into the Property and Casualty arena. She has been a personal lines underwriter. In addition to underwriting, Claire was a claims adjuster. She has handled a wide range of claims for both personal and commercial lines including auto and liability claims. Most recently Claire was a claims advocate for a large insurance agency in Central Kansas.
Claire holds a degree in Business Administration. She earned her CPCU designation and is currently an elected Director on the Board of Directors for the Kansas City CPCU Society Chapter. She also holds the AIC designation.
Judy Lucas, B.A., LTCP
Employed Insurance Industry 2000
First Consulting 2013
Sheila K. Lawrence, BBA, CPCU, ACP
Employed Insurance Industry 1969
First Consulting 2008
Lawrence has wide-ranging experience managing filings for commercial property and casualty lines of business including professional liability, inland marine, auto, general liability, property, BOP, aviation and title insurance. She also has extensive experience in resolving filing objections, amendatory endorsement development and research.
"Our team of experienced insurance professionals helps insurers meet their regulatory and compliance goals and obtain unique solutions tailored to specific needs,” says Sheila.
Lawrence previously managed regulatory compliance staff as Vice President/Operations Manager of a major national insurer. Sheila has a degree in Business Administration. She has been active in regional and national industry associations.
To contact other members of our team, please email: