About The Burnham System


Our Mission

Maximize our contribution to our nation by providing the most efficient and most effective insurance learning system and tools, available anywhere, from anybody, at any price.


About The Authors

The Burnham System is authored and maintained by Ray Burnham with the extraordinary help of co-authors Jean O’Reilly, PhD, CPCU, ARM, AINS, AIS, API, AIC, SPPA, AIM, AIC-M, ARM-E, AU, AU-M, AAI, APA, AMIM, ARe, AIDA, ARC, PRC, ARM-P, AIAF and Lisa Tobey, JD, CPCU, CLU, AINS, AIS, API, AIC, SPPA, AIM, AIC-M, ARM, ARM-E, AU, AU-M, AAI, AAI-M, ARe, ASLI, AIDA, PRC, RHU, REBC, CASL, ChFC.

Ray combined his love of teaching with his love of insurance to become our nation's leading insurance educator.

He has earned 35 insurance designations, passed over 100 consecutive professional-level insurance exams, and authored, with Jean and Lisa's help, well over 100 professional insurance course executive summaries, maybe over 200.

For nine years Ray served as the Education Chairman of the Central Massachusetts Chapter of CPCUs. He has served as President of the Massachusetts Society of Licensed Insurance Advisors. Ray also served as a school committee member in Southbridge for five years, including as Chairman in his last year.

On March 5, 1984, Ray partnered with Nancy Nale and opened Burnham and Nale Insurance Agency. Ray stepped down and transferred full ownership of Burnham and Nale Insurance Agency to Nancy in 1997.

Ray has been licensed as an all-lines broker and advisor for over 25 years.

To date Ray has earned the following 39 insurance industry designations: CPCU, CLU, ChFC, CIC, AINS, AIS, API, AIC, SPPA, AIM, AIC-M, ARM, ARM-P, ARM-E, AU, AU-M, ALCM, AAI, AAI-M, APA, ARP, AIAF, AMIM, AAM, AIT, ARe, AFSB, ASLI, AIDA, ARC, ASF, PRC, LIA, CPIA, CISR, RHU, REBC, CASL, and CRM.

Among practicing insurance professionals, Ray, Jean, and Lisa rank #1, #2, and #3 in the world in designations earned.


History of The Burnham System

On August 18, 1976, at 1:47 in the morning, Ray Burnham woke suddenly from a deep sleep. Sitting bolt upright he exclaimed, "With my help, any CPCU candidate can pass any CPCU exam.".

With that thought, The Burnham System was born.

With no savings and only $10,000 in annual earnings, Ray knew he needed funding. So, he sought the aid of his favorite venture capitalist.

"Dad, I've got an idea.", he explained to his potential investor. "Here's the deal: If you front me $250, I'll be able to get it off the ground. If I make money at it, I'll repay you 100% of the first year's profit up to $500. If I don't make money, you'll lose your investment.".

Ray's Dad ventured the $250.

In May of 1977, Ray told his Dad, "Dad, the taxman would say I lost money, but since I'm going to continue, here's your $500.".

That first year, from August 18, 1976 till the end of May 1977, Ray worked over 100 hours every week, writing the entire Burnham System for CPCU. In his spare time, Ray also studied for and passed three more CLU exams. His work included over 40 hours a week at Burnham Insurance Agency.

In the summer of 1977, Ray took a break from writing The Burnham System but continued to work at his 'full-time' job at Burnham Insurance Agency.

As the summer of 1977 closed, Ray quickly resumed his efforts to expand and improve The Burnham System. His hard work was rewarded when he achieved slightly higher revenue in his second year.

Then disaster struck!

The Institutes scrapped the entire CPCU curriculum and started again from scratch with a much improved ten-part program. Due to those drastic changes, in Ray's third year producing and selling The Burnham System, his sales declined significantly. He was only able to write 5 of the 10 new parts, including the then impossibly difficult Part 8 (accounting and finance).

Though, as fate would have it, in The Burnham System's fourth year, The Institutes opted to use much simpler, clearer textbooks for CPCU Part 8.

In order to focus on The Burnham System, Ray left work at Burnham Insurance Agency on December 31, 1979. However, even with his heart set on making The Burnham System the best insurance study guide system in the world, Ray still wanted to pursue his second passion: providing insureds with great insurance opportunities. So, Ray partnered with Nancy Nale, an insurance professional now with over 45 years' experience (as of 2019), his father's #1 CSR at Burnham Insurance Agency. On March 5, 1984, they opened Burnham and Nale Insurance Agency, just months before his Dad died in December of 1984.

After 10 years (from 1976 to 1986), The Burnham System's annual revenue had only doubled. Then starting in 1987… sales took off!

By the late '80s Ray expanded his course offerings tenfold. First, he added ARM 54, 55, and 56. Then AIC 33, 34, 35, and 36. He just kept adding more courses!

In 1991, Ray advertised for ghost writers. All told, over 100 PhDs, over 100 JDs, and over 100 others applied via written samples. So Ray could compare easily, he had every applicant write the same sample assignment. Based solely on their extraordinary samples, Ray hired Jean O’Reilly and Lisa Tobey, neither of whom had then ever earned an insurance designation. Since then, Jean O’Reilly, has earned her PhD and the CPCU, ARM, AINS, AIS, API, AIM, ARM-E, ARM-P, AU, AU-M, AAI, APA, AMIM, AIT, ARe, ARC, and AIAF. Since then, Lisa Tobey, JD, has earned the CPCU, CLU, ChFC, CASL, RHU, REBC, AINS, AIS, API, AIC, AIM, ARM, ARe, and ASLI. As you might guess, since neither had ever earned any insurance designation before they joined The Burnham System, they are also Ray’s two favorite students. Ray, Jean, and Lisa have now passed over two hundred insurance exams without failing once!

The Bunham System grew and grew magnificently.

In the late '90s, after long and careful consideration, Ray decided to step down from Burnham and Nale Insurance Agency and instead focus his full attention on creating, maintaining, and selling The Burnham System. Burnham and Nale Insurance Agency changed ownership in 1997 and is currently owned and operated solely by Nancy Nale. Also, during that period, Ray launched the BurnhamSystem.com website. The homepage's design never changed until 2013, and can still been seen if you click here.

Finally in the fall of 1998, Ray with Jean and Lisa had prepared The Burnham System for all 60 of the Institutes' courses and all five of the National Alliance's CIC courses. Then in 1999 Ray started offering The Burnham System for courses offered by The American College. To his amazement, his students taking courses created by The American College averaged about 1% higher pass rates than his students taking courses offered by The Institutes.

In the early 2000s Ray made significant changes to The Burnham System's email system with the aid of Tom Loretz from Computer Engineering Service.

To this day Tom still serves as The Burnham System's computer guru, helping Jean, Lisa, and Ray maintain laptops and course documents.

In February 2013, Ray came to a stark realization, 'The Burnham System needs to be sold online in digitally readable format, digital audio format, and as bound books.'.

After that revelation, Ray contracted Appfunction to build The Burnham System a modern, streamlined eCommerce website.

On July 30, 2013, The Burnham System re-launched a drastically modernized BurnhamSystem.com eCommerce website. Through this iteration of BurnhamSystem.com, customers can place their orders securely over the Internet. Further, with a credit card, they can instantly buy and download their study guides directly to their smartphones, tablets, and computers from BurnhamSystem.com.

Since that golden day in 1976, when Ray exclaimed, "With my help, any [designation] candidate can pass any [designation] exam.", Ray has dedicated his life to offering the most accessible and up-to-date insurance course study materials of any insurance study guide provider.

Today, from his mobile command center (his trusted laptop that goes everywhere he goes, and his 888-Burnham phone number), Ray communicates with his patrons every day, providing them with the highest level of personal attention.