Robert I. Kauffman
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Robert I. Kauffman has served as our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since January 2021. Mr. Kauffman was a co-founder, principal and member of the board of directors of Fortress Investment Group LLC from its founding in 1998 until 2012. During his tenure at the firm, Mr. Kauffman served as a member of Fortress’s management committee and was responsible for the management of Fortress’s European private equity investment operations. While at Fortress Mr. Kauffman was primarily focused on distressed debt restructurings, real estate and other asset based and financial services businesses. In the course of his career, he has been involved in a wide variety of investment activities, including private fund raising, initial public offerings, primary and secondary public share offerings in multiple jurisdictions, take private transactions, as well as billions of dollars of bank and capital market debt financings and securitizations.
Prior to co-founding Fortress, Mr. Kauffman served as a managing director at UBS, from 1997 to 1998 in its Principal Finance area. Prior to that he was a principal at BlackRock Financial Management Inc., from 1993 to 1997 playing a key role in raising and investing their first Private Equity Fund, BlackRock Asset Investors. Previously, Mr. Kauffman worked at Lehman Brothers from 1986 to 1993 primarily focused on the mortgage and securitization markets both in the U.S. and Europe.
Since his departure from Fortress in 2012, Mr. Kauffman has brought his extensive business experience to a variety of private investments, including a non-controlling stake in University Bancorp Inc., a mortgage focused community bank based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Mr. Kauffman serves on the board of directors of University Bancorp Inc., Hagerty Insurance, and an advisory board member of McLaren Racing LTD., a leading UK based Formula1 racing team. Mr. Kauffman is currently the chairman of the Race Team Alliance, an association of NASCAR Cup Series teams; a co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing, a professional American racing team active in IndyCar and NASCAR racing; and the owner of RK Motors, a leading restorer and reseller of classic cars; and Speed Digital, a SaaS business focused on the collector car market.
Mr. Kauffman is also an investor and advisory board member of Off The Chain Capital, a cryptocurrency focused hedge fund.
Mr. Kauffman earned a degree in Business Administration from Northeastern University in 1986.
Hassan R. Baqar
Chief Financial Officer
Hassan R. Baqar has served as our Chief Financial Officer since January 2021. Mr. Baqar has over 20 years of experience within financial services focused on corporate development, mergers & acquisitions, capital raising, investments and real estate transactions. Mr. Baqar has served as the founder and managing member of Sequoia Financial LLC, a financial services and advisory firm, since January 2019. Mr. Baqar has also served as Chief Financial Officer of Insurance Income Strategies Ltd., a Bermuda based reinsurance company since October 2017, as a director of GreenFirst Forest Products Inc. (TSXV: GFP) (formerly Itasca Capital Ltd.), a publicly-traded investment firm since August 2019 and as Chief Financial Officer of GreenFirst Forest Products Inc. from June 2016 to December 2020, as a director of Fundamental Global Reinsurance Ltd., a Cayman Islands reinsurance company since June 2020, and as a director and Chief Financial Officer of Unbounded Media Corporation since June 2019.
In July 2020, Mr. Baqar began serving as Chief Financial Officer of FG New America Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: FGNA), a special purpose acquisition company focused on merging with a company in the InsureTech, FinTech, broader financial services and insurance sectors. Previously, he served as Vice President of Kingsway Financial Services Inc. (NYSE: KFS) (“Kingsway”) from January 2014 to January 2019 and as a Vice President of Kingsway’s subsidiary Kingsway America Inc. from January 2010 to January 2019. Mr. Baqar also served as Chief Financial Officer and director of 1347 Capital Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, from April 2014 to July 2016 when the company completed its initial business combination to form Limbach Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: LMB). Mr. Baqar served as a member of the board of directors of FG Financial Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: FGF) from October 2012 to May 2015. By virtue of a management services agreement between 1347 Advisors LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kingsway, and United Insurance Management, L.C., he also served as the Chief Financial Officer of United Insurance Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq: UIHC), a publicly held property and casualty insurance holding company, from August 2011 to April 2012.
His previous experience also includes director of finance at Itasca Financial, LLC from 2008 to 2009 and positions held at Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Company (a Kemper Insurance company), a diversified mutual property-casualty insurance provider, from June 2000 to April 2008, where he most recently served as a senior analyst. Mr. Baqar earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Northeastern Illinois University in 2009 and a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and Business Administration from Monmouth College in 2000. He also holds a Certified Public Accountant designation.
Larry G. Swets, Jr.
Larry G. Swets, Jr. has served as our Senior Advisor since March 2021. Mr. Swets has over 25 years of experience within financial services encompassing both non-executive and executive roles. Mr. Swets founded Itasca Financial LLC, an advisory and investment firm, in 2005 and has served as its managing member since inception. Mr. Swets also founded and is the President of Itasca Golf Managers, Inc., a management services and advisory firm focused on the real estate and hospitality industries, in August 2018. Mr. Swets has served as a director and the Chief Executive Officer of GreenFirst Forest Products Inc. (TSXV: GFP) (formerly Itasca Capital Ltd.), a publicly-traded investment firm sinceJune 2016. Mr. Swets has served as Chief Executive Officer of FG Financial Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: FGF) (formerly 1347 Property Insurance Holdings, Inc.), which operates as a diversified reinsurance, investment management and real estate holding company, since November 2020, after having served as Interim CEO beginning in June 2020. In July 2020, Mr. Swets began serving as a director and Chief Executive Officer of FG New America Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: FGNA), a special purpose acquisition company focused on merging with a company in the InsureTech, FinTech, broader financial services and insurance sectors. Previously, he served as the Chief Executive Officer of Kingsway Financial Services Inc. (NYSE: KFS) from July 2010 to September 2018, including as its President from July 2010 to March 2017.
Prior to founding Itasca Financial LLC, Mr. Swets served as an insurance company executive and advisor, including the role of director of investments and fixed income portfolio manager for Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Company, formerly known as Kemper Insurance Companies. Mr. Swets began his career in insurance as an intern in the Kemper Scholar program in 1994. Mr. Swets has also served as a member of the board of directors of FG Financial Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: FGF) since November 2013, Limbach Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: LMB), a company which provides building infrastructure services since July 2016, Insurance Income Strategies Ltd. since October 2017, Harbor Custom Development, Inc. (Nasdaq: HCDI) since February 2020, Alexian Brothers Foundation since March 2018, and Unbounded Media Corporation since June 2019. Previously, he served as a member of the board of directors of Kingsway Financial Services Inc. from September 2013 to December 2018, Atlas Financial Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: AFH) from December 2010 to January 2018, FMG Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: FMGQ) from May 2007 to September 2008, United Insurance Holdings Corp. from 2008 to March 2012, and Risk Enterprise Management Ltd. from November 2007 to May 2012. He is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization. Mr. Swets earned a Master’s Degree in Finance from DePaul University in 1999 and a Bachelor’s Degree from Valparaiso University in 1997. He also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.
Mark H. Love
Mark H. Love has served as our Senior Advisor since March 2021. Mr. Love is an entrepreneur, consultant and venture capitalist focusing on technology. Early-stage technology investments made by Mr. Love include: Limelight Networks and The Facebook. Additional notable investments made by Mr. Love include: Spotify, Lyft, Instacart, LinkedIn, Zynga, Parallels, Proofpoint, Alibaba.com, Acorns, LifeLock, Survey Monkey, Flipkart, Telogis, Soasta, Pinterest, NJOY, Dollar Shave Club, Ripple, and Tenstorrent. Mr. Love is currently a Partner at Goldmark Venture Partners, a growth-stage venture capital fund manager founded in 2007. In addition, Mr. Love has been a Consultant at 17 Capital Partners, LLC, a consultant to wealth advisors of family offices, since 2017.
Previously, Mr. Love served as a Principal at LKL Partners, LLC, a wealth advisor to family offices with a focus in technology investments, from 2005 to 2017, as a Senior Vice President at RBC Daine Rauscher Inc., from 2001 to 2005, and at Sutro & Co. Incorporated, from 1996 to 2001. At both firms he was a wealth advisor to family offices and a technology investing specialist, as Senior Vice President at Merrill Lynch from 1994 to 1996, where the Chief Executive Officer of Merrill Lynch brought Mr. Love on to establish African American banking relationships including the NBA (National Basketball Association), and as a Senior Vice President at PaineWebber Incorporated, from 1987 to 1994.