Brokerage Ops the June 2012 issue

Pull Up a Chair

Is your competition comfortable with you speaking up for them?
By Ken Crerar

My guess is you wouldn’t, which is why you are among the best and most profitable insurance agencies and brokerages in the world, also known as The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers.

The Council’s strength as an organization comes from the relationships formed and the sharing of knowledge and insights among our members. You understand that the investment is about being part of a community where we tackle issues together to make our businesses stronger. And to keep the community strong, the best people and the best firms need to be in the room.

So why are some of your direct competitors not part of The Council? Have you ever asked them?

Think about it. You’re likely very often in the company of the dozens of prospective members on our target list. These are the key leaders in market regions who have the revenue size and industry reputation that befits The Council badge. These are the firms you should want at The Council table—as peers and competitors—to help shape the agenda, drive change and amplify our voice in Washington. But right now, they aren’t here, and you are carrying their water.

Why? At this level, money isn’t the issue. You all may be competing for the same business, but you all still face the exact same internal issues and challenges, and legislative and regulatory obstacles. So what gives?

If perspective and experience have taught me anything, it’s that if you “do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten.” Maybe those other guys are fine with that, but you, The Council members, understand the risk involved in working that way.

Every business operates differently, and some prefer to work in a silo, keeping their cards close to the chest. There are benefits to that but not to the point of missing out on at least being an active listener and knowing the temperature of what’s happening in the market and how to leverage it. This is about more than just the future of an individual brokerage or of today’s revenues; it’s about the future of our industry, and the traditional ways of charting our course may no longer be valid.

That’s why it’s not about doing what you’ve always done—it’s about bringing together really smart people and engaging new leadership in a forum that allows ideas to flourish and business partnerships to thrive. It’s about looking at what’s coming down the pike and getting out in front of marketplace changes to make sure things happen for this great industry in a positive way. This is the atmosphere and the community that has been very good to them, fending off industry attacks over the years. It’s time to call them out to participate because at the end of the day we are stronger as a group than we are alone.

The industry is moving full speed ahead, and those riding solo are going to be able to hold on for only so long. As the market changes and the industry turns, it’s more important than ever that the top thinkers and leaders remain at the table and new ones pull up a chair. It’s the only way to move the industry forward.

So the next time you see one of those other guys at a meeting or a conference where the future of the industry is at hand, inquire about how comfortable they are having you speak for them. Come right out and ask, “Are you OK with that?”

Ken Crerar President & CEO, The Council Read More

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