TOP FIVE QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO ASK ABOUT YOUR CULTURE AND YOUR BEHAVIOR
Finding success in an age that demands collaboration
Complacency is hazardous. You, your attitude,
your work ethic … everything about you and
how you approach your
clients is being observed.
By Michael Wayne
For the last year and a half, the wholesale marketplace has seen a massive uptick in business. Obviously, that marketplace’s flexibility to deal with rising challenges such as cyber, supply chain, casualty market social inflation, ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance)-related risks, and climate change is tremendous. This provides us as brokers, agents, loss control, and risk management specialists new opportunities.
Many of us have witnessed market swings. Presently, the swing is a volatile one. This volatility has thrust us into an age that demands collaboration to move forward. We need to be guiding our partners to ensure working with them produces the solutions that the market requires. The question you need to ask at this point is, “Are my—and our—collaborative efforts bringing about positive change?” To thrive in the wholesale space, or anywhere else really, you have to continuously examine what defines you and how you are operating. Here are the Top 5 questions you need to ask about your culture, your personal behavior, and your organizational behavior.
Are my relationships true partnerships?
If your clients feel like they are simply a regular payment to you, eventually a competing agent or agency is going to come in and lure them away. It is human nature for us to put things on autopilot, and that tends to lead to our greatest foe—laziness. If you aren’t bringing your clients the latest and greatest and providing them with data they can use to improve their operations, someone else will. Objectives and plans on how to reach them have to be as concrete and transparent as possible.
Should you go big or should you go home?
For many, the attitude “go big or go home” is a defining mantra. We want the most clients and the biggest book of business. But what’s the use if you can’t properly serve that book and all you are really doing is working to repeatedly replace lost clients with new ones and working to replace lost revenue? Most of us have heard that the definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on select clients and working to retain them instead? There will always be exceptions, but if your client truly understands the value you provide for them, and that value is invaluable, aren’t they more likely to rebuff a shiny new agent?
Are you continuing to learn?
This applies not just to you but to everyone in your organization. What are you, those who report to you, and your colleagues doing to get better every day? What training are you looking into? What courses are you taking focused on coverage in general, the technology that is driving other industries, and, in particular, the organizations that you want to retain or gain as clients? All of us have witnessed a teammate so set in their ways that they ultimately fall by the wayside. This descent isn’t necessarily an instant drop. Sometimes it’s someone who is only a few years away from retiring. Their book simply dwindles to a shell of what it was before they have the opportunity to transition clients to someone else. Stagnation is a killer.
Who’s coming after you?
This could be taken to mean “What is your competition doing?”, but in this context I’m referring to succession plans. In addition to the face that is going to replace you as a client contact, you also need to concern yourself with adding to your agency in ways you never thought about previously. Whether it’s data analysts, loss control, accountants, account managers, marketers—whatever the position is, you need to strive for the top and for bringing in the best specialists and experts available. What points of excellence can you point to that you head yourself or that your agency houses? What aspects of the industry would others consider you to be the leader of today? What will you be considered the leader of tomorrow?
Do you really want this?
I alluded to it before: Complacency is hazardous. You, your attitude, your work ethic … everything about you and how you approach your clients is being observed. Your colleagues, your competition, your clients, your prospects, and underwriters you work with are all taking stock of your routine on a daily basis. Not all of them all at once, mind you, but over time each of these groups and others have and are continuously piecing together your profile. If you aren’t making the investments necessary to champion your clients, lift up those around you and continue to improve the industry for all to continue setting higher standards. Are you really in a position to take advantage of and create future opportunities?
Michael Wayne is a freelance insurance writer.