2014 Power Broker: Under 40

Young Talent Pushing Forward

Many insurance professionals say they “fell into” the industry. Our Power Broker® winners and finalists under age 40 are no different, crediting their introduction to the business largely to family members who got them an “in.” Their experiences entering and working their way up through the ranks demonstrate both the strengths and weaknesses of the industry, and paint a picture of what the future may hold.

2014 Under-40 rankings sponsored by:

The Institues

Denton Christner, 36, a Power Broker® in the Gaming and Hospitality category, started working as a file clerk in his father’s Allstate agency as a high school student. He stayed with Allstate through college and eventually became an agent at the age of 21.

After agency consolidation left him and other brokers with smaller books looking for other options, he took a tip from another family member and went the independent route, joining BayRisk Insurance Brokers at 24.

Eleven years later, Christner is vice president and has helped BayRisk build its biggest new business source: a program for food truck insurance. Taking advantage of social media and online marketing, he has used the Internet as a primary sales driver, bringing InsureMyFoodTruck.com to the top of search engine results lists.

“Trying to sell commercial insurance to business owners who are oftentimes 10, 20 or 30 years my senior was very difficult. That was a big obstacle as a young agent, trying to prove my professionalism.”
— Denton Christner, vice president, Bay Risk Insurance Brokers

“It was an amazing experience; totally life-changing,” Christner said. “I pretty much ate, slept and breathed food trucks for 18 months getting it launched.”

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Lindsay Roos, 30, and a Power Broker® in the Pharmaceutical category, secured an internship with Marsh as a college junior with the help of a family member. In fact, internships and early training programs are a common thread among our young success stories.

“I interned in our Morristown, N.J., office for two years,” said Roos, a vice president and excess casualty placement broker at Bowring Marsh. “It was my first real work experience, and I really liked the work and the company. Most importantly, I really liked the people.” Marsh hired Roos into a graduate training program that gave her a well-rounded and formalized immersion in the industry alongside her peers.

Kate Simons, a 28-year-old Power Broker® finalist in the Retail category, took a summer internship with Aon as a college student “without really knowing what it was at first.” But the program drew her in, opening up the world of learning opportunities that the insurance industry has to offer.

“In this job, the thing I like is that you ultimately get to learn about all the industries your clients are in, whether it’s retail, real estate, manufacturing, food, and the list goes on and on,” she said.

Like Roos, Simons participated in an early career development program at the company. The 18-month training helped her home in on what aspects of insurance most appealed to her and exposed her to key mentors, leading her to her current position as senior broker.

“I also felt that the industry had a really good focus on developing young talent and investing in the future,” Simons said.

Attracting Graduates

Indeed, internships and intensive training programs continue to be key tools in bringing new grads into the fold.

Big brokers like Aon, Marsh and Beecher Carlson reach out to colleges to find prospective talent and introduce them to the industry. If all goes according to plan, those interns become full-time hires.

A year or two of initial training for new employees gets their feet wet in every aspect of the business. Those onboarding programs help young brokers find what niche appeals to them, and in what function they can excel.

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For many, that process helps young professionals move on from simply “falling into” insurance to really embracing it as a rewarding and exciting career.

As evidence of these programs’ successes, notice that this year’s “Under 40” class of winners and finalists includes 60 brokers, as opposed to last year’s 40. More young brokers are thriving in the business.

“The best experience comes from clinging onto some good people who are willing to teach you.”

— Lindsay Roos, vice president, Bowring Marsh

Yet, for an industry that invests considerable time and resources in developing new talent, the concern remains that not enough young people realize the benefits of working in insurance. In spite of a wealth of opportunity, the influx of new grads remains troublingly low.

“There are not enough young people getting into insurance, unfortunately,” Christner said. “It takes a lot of convincing and hand-holding and mentorship to get new producers settled into their career.”

Roos echoed that thought, noting that most college students aren’t necessarily looking for a professional career in insurance, but end up there via a tangential skill or interest.

That’s how a career in insurance brokering developed for Blythe O’Brien Hogan, a director in the Global Fine Arts Practice at Aon. O’Brien Hogan majored in art history as an undergraduate, then pursued a master’s degree in art business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. That got her interested in art protection, both for personal collections as well as in transit or on display in a gallery or museum. She eventually wrote her master’s thesis on the development of insurance and risk management for fine art.

“From there I segued into the very dynamic, but a little bit niche, risk management insurance industry for fine art collections,” she said.

Aon’s Global Fine Arts Practice, launched in 2005, allowed O’Brien Hogan, a Power Broker® in the Fine Arts category, to work more closely with all players in the art industry, from handlers, shippers, storage facilities, and conservators to appraisers and tax attorneys.

Growing Pains

Despite being given opportunities and responsibilities early in their careers, many young brokers have had to overcome ageism in order to move ahead.

“Trying to sell commercial insurance to business owners who are oftentimes 10, 20 or 30 years my senior was very difficult,” Christner said. “That was a big obstacle as a young agent, trying to prove my professionalism.”

“It is challenging at times to get people to look past your age,” Simons said. “Being younger and still successful; sometimes, people tend to look for a little gray hair.”

Ultimately, though, a sound working knowledge of clients’ industries wins out, gaining their trust and building a positive reputation.

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Seth Cohen, 30, and an Entertainment Power Broker®, worked around the challenges of youth and inexperience by focusing on educational opportunities and industry training.

“I realized I could really accelerate my experience beyond my years,” said Cohen, an entertainment area vice president with Arthur J. Gallagher. “I got my ARM and CPCU as quickly as I could. I took a UCLA filmmaking and production course that was very intensive. I continue to attend media law conferences. Staying on top of current affairs helps to stay ahead of your inexperience.”

A little persistence never hurt either.

“Hard work and perseverance, being creative and asking questions has been the way to work through all that,” Simons said.

Younger brokers also have the advantage of greater familiarity with changing technologies, which shape industry best practices in a number of ways. Social media and online marketing are becoming increasingly common and important ways to reach clients, as Christner proved with the success of his food truck program. Sophisticated data analysis and modeling are now equally invaluable items in the broker’s toolbox.

“The younger generation probably embraces it more and adapts better,” Simons said. “They have more innovative thoughts as far as asking, ‘What else can I do with this technology and data to look at things a different way?’ ”

Tips for Success

So what can entry-level brokers learn from our Under 40 winners and finalists? First and foremost: Pounce on every new venture.

“I would say take advantage of every single opportunity, meaning every chance to be involved with other professionals [in the industry],” O’Brien Hogan said.

Simons echoed that advice. “Jump on every opportunity, and there are many in the industry, but you have to make the most of them,” she said. “Work hard. Be confident.”

And that uncle, sister or cousin with experience in the field? Tap into their knowledge base, and pick mentors’ brains as often as possible.

“The best experience comes from clinging onto some good people who are willing to teach you,” Roos said.

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Finally, the best brokers — no matter what their age — always have an in-depth knowledge of their customers’ industries. Specializing in areas of interest helps develop expertise that clients covet.

“Knowing the industry is key,” O’Brien Hogan said. “From all different angles — not just insurance, but all the little components that go into risk management.”

While challenges remain for the industry’s stability and growth potential, the growing number of Under 40 Power Broker® winners and finalists offers hope that the industry will remain dynamic for the future.

Listing of Power Broker Winners and Finalists Under 40:

Sarah Allison Senior Vice President Marsh, New York

Sarah Allison
Senior Vice President
Marsh, New York

James Bernstein, 34 Mercer, Cincinnati Employee Benefits

James Bernstein, 34
Mercer, Cincinnati
Employee Benefits

Morgan Anderson, 36 Arthur J. Gallagher, Irvine, Calif. Real Estate

Morgan Anderson, 36 Gallagher, Irvine, Calif.
Real Estate

Charles Blackmon, 34 Krauter & Co., Chicago Private Equity

Charles Blackmon, 34
Krauter & Co., Chicago
Private Equity

Joseph Braunstein, 37 Marsh, New York Aviation

Joseph Braunstein, 37
Marsh, New York
Aviation

Denton Christner, 35 BayRisk Insurance Brokers, Inc., Alameda, Calif. Gaming/Hospitality

Denton Christner, 35
BayRisk, Calif.
Gaming/Hospitality

Krista Cinotti, 35 Willis, New York Financial Services - Banking

Krista Cinotti, 35
Willis, New York
Financial Services

Seth Cohen, 30 Arthur J. Gallagher, Glendale, Calif. Entertainment

Seth Cohen, 30
Gallagher, California
Entertainment

Anne Corona, 36 Aon, Los Angeles Gaming/ Hospitality

Anne Corona, 36
Aon, Los Angeles
Gaming/ Hospitality

Bryan Eure, 34 Willis, New York Real Estate

Bryan Eure, 34
Willis, New York
Real Estate

Lindy Connery, 29 Marsh, New York Technology

Lindy Connery, 29
Marsh, New York
Technology

Ariel Duris, 38 Aon, Denver Aviation, Financial Services - Banking

Ariel Duris, 38
Aon, Denver
Financial Services

Larissa Gallagher, 26 Aon, Southfield, Mich. Chemicals & Refining

Larissa Gallagher, 26
Aon, Southfield, Mich.
Chemicals & Refining

Elisa Black, 28 Aon, Chicago Automotive

Elisa Black, 28
Aon, Chicago
Automotive

David Garrett, 37 John L. Wortham & Son, Houston Private Equity

David Garrett, 37
Wortham Ins., Houston
Private Equity

Jim Gillette, 34 EPIC, Los Angeles Retailing/ Wholesaling

Jim Gillette, 34
EPIC, Los Angeles
Retail

Mike Gingrich, 38 Neace Lukens, Dayton, Ohio Workers' Comp

Mike Gingrich, 38
Neace Lukens, Ohio
Workers’ Comp

Angela Giunto, 37 Aon, Denver Gaming/ Hospitality

Angela Giunto, 37
Aon, Denver
Gaming/ Hospitality

Meaghan Haney, 27 Aon, Washington Education

Meaghan Haney, 27
Aon, Washington
Education

Chris Heinicke, 38 Aon, Hamilton, Bermuda Automotive

Chris Heinicke, 38
Aon, Bermuda
Automotive

Matthew Heinz, 37 Aon, New York Private Equity

Matthew Heinz, 37
Aon, New York
Private Equity

Drew Johnston, 38 Aon, Wichita, Kan, Aviation

Drew Johnston, 38
Aon, Wichita, Kan,
Aviation

Jared McElroy, 33 Aon, Cincinnati Chemicals & Refining

Jared McElroy, 33
Aon, Cincinnati
Chemicals & Refining

Brian Lu, 32 Aon, New York Environmental

Brian Lu, 32
Aon, New York
Environmental

Matt Mautz, 33 Beecher Carlson, Atlanta Workers' Comp

Matt Mautz, 33
Beecher Carlson, 
Workers’ Comp

Tyler LaMantia, 27 Arthur J. Gallagher, Itasca, Ill. Public Sector

Tyler LaMantia, 27
Gallagher, Itasca, Ill.
Public Sector

Lorrie McNaught, 39 Aon/ Albert G. Ruben, Sherman Oaks, Calif. Entertainment

Lorrie McNaught, 39
Aon, California
Entertainment

Keith Montone, 31 Willis, Radnor, Pa. Environmental

Keith Montone, 31
Willis, Radnor, Pa.
Environmental

Anthony Moraes, 36 Integro Insurance Brokers, San Francisco Technology

Anthony Moraes, 36
Integro, San Francisco
Technology

Sean Murphy, 34 Arthur J. Gallagher, Houston Gaming/ Hospitality

Sean Murphy, 34
Gallagher, Houston
Gaming/ Hospitality

Lee Newmark, 26 Arthur J. Gallagher, Itasca, Ill. Health Care

Lee Newmark, 26
Gallagher, Itasca, Ill.
Health Care

Tandis M. H. Nili, 33 Aon, New York Real Estate

Tandis M. H. Nili, 33
Aon, New York
Real Estate

Blythe O'Brien, 29 Aon, New York Real Estate

Blythe O’Brien, 29
Aon, New York
Real Estate

Dennis O'Neill Jr., 33 Aon, Philadelphia Retailing/ Wholesaling

Dennis O’Neill Jr., 33
Aon, Philadelphia
Retail

Michael O'Neill, 35 Aon, New York Pharmaceuticals

Michael O’Neill, 35
Aon, New York
Pharmaceuticals

Stefanie Pearl, 33 Marsh, New York Financial Services - Banking

Stefanie Pearl, 33
Marsh, New York
Financial Services

Adrian Pellen, 30 Aon, New York Environmental

Adrian Pellen, 30
Aon, New York
Environmental

Mary Pontillo, 37 DeWitt Stern, New York Fine Arts

Mary Pontillo, 37
DeWitt Stern, New York
Fine Arts

Samuel Pugatch, 31 DeWitt Stern, New York Fine Arts

Samuel Pugatch, 31
DeWitt Stern, New York
Fine Arts

Brendan Quinlan, 34 Arthur J. Gallagher, San Francisco Utilities

Brendan Quinlan, 34
Gallagher, Calif.
Utilities

Chris Rafferty, 34 Aon, Chicago Automotive

Chris Rafferty, 34
Aon, Chicago
Automotive

Lindsay Roos, 30 Marsh, Hamilton, Bermuda Pharmaceuticals

Lindsay Roos, 30
Marsh, Bermuda
Pharmaceuticals

Duncan Ross, 35 Marsh, London Energy - Traditional

Duncan Ross, 35
Marsh, London
Energy – Traditional

James Sallada, 34 Marsh, New York Retailing/ Wholesaling

James Sallada, 34
Marsh, New York
Retail

Scott Schachter, 39 Marsh, New York Entertainment

Scott Schachter, 39
Marsh, New York
Entertainment

Aaron Simpson, 37 Aon, Philadelphia Pharmaceuticals

Aaron Simpson, 37
Aon, Philadelphia
Pharmaceuticals

Sharon Sotelo-Lee, 39 Integro Insurance Brokers, San Francisco Technology

Sharon Sotelo-Lee, 39
Integro, San Francisco
Technology

Stephen Stoicovy, 27 Aon, Houston Chemicals & Refining

Stephen Stoicovy, 27
Aon, Houston
Chemicals & Refining

Marc Toy, 38 Beecher Carlson, San Francisco Energy - Alternative

Marc Toy, 38
Beecher Carlson, Calif.
Energy – Alternative

Andy Vetor, 34 MJ Insurance, Indianapolis Employee Benefits

Andy Vetor, 34
MJ Insurance, Ind.
Employee Benefits

Gina Visor, 35 Marsh, Charlotte, N.C. Utilities

Gina Visor, 35
Marsh, Charlotte, N.C.
Utilities

Michael White, 37 Beecher Carlson, Atlanta Construction

Michael White, 37
Beecher Carlson, 
Construction

Ross Wheeler, 37 Aon, Chicago Retailing/ Wholesaling

Ross Wheeler, 37
Aon, Chicago
Retail

Alexander Zavala, 33 Willis, New York Real Estate

Alexander Zavala, 33
Willis, New York
Real Estate

Clayton Corbett, 29 Aon, Houston Energy - Alternative

Clayton Corbett, 29
Aon, Houston
Energy – Alternative

Neil Cayabyab, 34 Marsh, Irvine, Calif. Utilities

Neil Cayabyab, 34
Marsh, Irvine, Calif.
Utilities

Brandon Cole, 29 Arthur J. Gallagher, Greenwood Village, Colo. Nonprofit

Brandon Cole, 29
Gallagher, Colo.
Nonprofit

Helena Lai, 34 Aon - Huntington T. Block Insurance Agency, Washington Fine Arts

Helena Lai, 34
Aon, Washington DC
Fine Arts

Adam Rekerdres, 35 Rekerdres & Sons Insurance Agency, Dallas Marine

Adam Rekerdres, 35
Rekerdres & Sons, Dallas
Marine

Kate Simons, 28 Aon, Chicago Retailing/ Wholesaling

Kate Simons, 28
Aon, Chicago
Retail

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High Net Worth

High Net Worth Insurance Summit Gains Traction

An annual summit focused on educating carriers and brokers for high net worth clients is gaining momentum.
By: | November 28, 2016 • 2 min read
Front elevation of luxury home with fiery sky as backdrop

A summit aimed at increasing awareness for and educating high net worth insurance agents and carriers is quickly gaining traction.

The Private Risk Management Association, which held its third annual summit in Itasca, Ill. the week of Nov. 14, is experiencing double digit attendance growth.

Jim Kane President and Trustee Private Risk Management Association

Jim Kane
President and Trustee
Private Risk Management Association

According to Jim Kane, a Philadelphia-based senior vice president with USI Insurance Services, the conference has its origins in a belief that the consultants offering advice to net worth clients merit their own networking event and education tracks.

“The origins of the association really come from the insurance side,” said Kane, who serves as PRMA’s president and trustee.

He credits Ross Buchmueller, the CEO of high net worth insurer PURE (Privileged Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange), with having the foresight to form the association.

“He believed that although we all compete fiercely, that we have shared interests in creating the path to a successful career,” Kane said.

Buchmueller and other high net worth insurance veterans now sit on PRMA’s board.

“Although the carrier side had the idea, it was the broker side that put it into execution,” Kane said.

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“We felt that on the broker side we had as much interest as anybody and that it might be better received if it were driven by the brokers and not the carriers,” Kane said.

The association held its first meeting in Chicago in 2014. Attendance that year was just under 200.  A meeting last year at Georgia Tech University sold out with 230 attendees. This year’s conference, held at the Eaglewood Resort in Itasca, reached capacity at 255 attendees.

Lisa Lindsay, a former Marsh private client executive and PRMA’s executive director, says PRMA is also seeing eye-opening participation levels in its education track.

“People want to be able to differentiate themselves, they want to be able to continue to provide value.”– Lisa Lindsay, executive director, PRMA.

The association plans to bestow its Chartered Private Risk and Insurance Advisor(CPRIA) certificate to 125 brokers and consultants at next year’s PRMA Summit in Tempe, Ariz.

The first class to begin working toward the certificate launched in May, 2015. It’s fifth segment now has 320 participants.

Lindsay said PRMA is partnering with New Level Partners and the St. John’s University School of Risk Management to develop and quality-check the curriculum.

Lindsay says the strong response to the certificate program indicates that PRMA has tapped a well of interest.

Lisa Lindsay Executive Director Private Risk Management Association

Lisa Lindsay
Executive Director
Private Risk Management Association

“People want to be able to differentiate themselves, they want to be able to continue to provide value,” Lindsay said.

“You can’t just slap private client on your card anymore,” Kane said.

“This is a chance to say you are dedicated to it and educated in it.”

Carriers in attendance at this year’s summit included PURE, AIG, Chubb and Ironshore.

Brokerages in attendance included Arthur J. Gallagher, Aon, HUB, USI Insurance Services and Willis.

In addition to educational sessions and presentations from indusry leaders, the summit featured a roundtable discussion involving the first six Private Client winners of the Risk & Insurance Power Broker award, which recognizes the best brokers in a number of industry sectors.

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]
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Sponsored Content by Nationwide

Hot Hacks That Leave You Cold

Cyber risk managers look at the latest in breaches and the future of cyber liability.
By: | December 1, 2016 • 5 min read

Nationwide_SponsoredContent_1016Thousands of dollars lost at the blink of an eye, and systems shut down for weeks. It might sound like something out of a movie, but it’s becoming more and more of a reality thanks to modern hackers. As technology evolves and becomes more sophisticated, so do the occurrence of cyber breaches.

“The more we rely on technology, the more everything becomes interconnected,” said Jackie Lee, associate vice president, Cyber Liability at Nationwide. “We are in an age where our car is a giant computer, and we can turn on our air conditioners with our phones. Everyone holds data. It’s everywhere.”

Phishing Out Fraud

According to Lee, phishing is on the rise as one of the most common forms of cyber attacks. What used to be easy to identify as fraudulent has become harder to distinguish. Gone are the days of the emails from the Nigerian prince, which have been replaced with much more sophisticated—and tricky—techniques that could extort millions.

“A typical phishing email is much more legitimate and plausible,” Lee said. “It could be an email appearing to be from human resources at annual benefits enrollment or it could be a seemingly authentic message from the CFO asking to release an invoice.”

According to Lee, the root of phishing is behavior and analytics. “Hackers can pick out so much from a person’s behavior, whether it’s a key word in an engagement survey or certain times when they are logging onto VPN.”

On the flip side, behavior also helps determine the best course of action to prevent phishing.

“When we send an exercise email to test how associates respond to phishing, we monitor who has clicked the first round, then a second round,” she said. “We look at repeat offenders and also determine if there is one exercise that is more susceptible. Once we understand that, we can take the right steps to make sure employees are trained to be more aware and recognize a potentially fraudulent email.”

Lee stressed that phishing can affect employees at all levels.

“When the exercise is sent out, we find that 20 percent of the opens are from employees at the executive level,” she said. “It’s just as important they are taking the right steps to ensure they are practicing what they are preaching.”

Locking Down Ransomware

Nationwide_SponsoredContent_1016Another hot hacking ploy is ransomware, a type of property-related cyber attack that prevents or limits users from accessing their system unless a ransom is paid. The average ransom request for a business is around $10,000. According to the FBI, there were 2,400 ransomware complaints in 2015, resulting in total estimated losses of more than $24 million. These threats are expected to increase by 300% this year alone.

“These events are happening, and businesses aren’t reporting them,” Lee said.

In the last five years, government entities saw the largest amount of ransomware attacks. Lee added that another popular target is hospitals.

After a recent cyber attack, a hospital in Los Angeles was without its crucial computer programs until it paid the hackers $17,000 to restore its systems.

Lee said there is beginning to be more industry-wide awareness around ransomware, and many healthcare organizations are starting to buy cyber insurance and are taking steps to safeguard their electronic files.

“A hospital holds an enormous amount of data, but there is so much more at stake than just the computer systems,” Lee said. “All their medical systems are technology-based. To lose those would be catastrophic.”

And though not all situations are life-or-death, Lee does emphasize that any kind of property loss could be crippling. “On a granular scale, you look at everything from your car to your security system. All data storage points could be controlled and compromised at some point.”

The Future of Cyber Liability

According to Lee, the Cyber product, which is still in its infancy, is poised to affect every line of business. She foresees underwriting offering more expertise in crime and becoming more segmented into areas of engineering, property, and automotive to address ongoing growing concerns.”

“Cyber coverage will become more than a one-dimensional product,” she said. “I see a large gap in coverage. Consistency is evolving, and as technology evolves, we are beginning to touch other lines. It’s no longer about if a breach will happen. It’s when.”

About Nationwide’s Cyber Solutions

Nationwide’s cyber liability coverage includes a service-based solution that helps mitigate losses. Whether it’s loss prevention resources, breach response and remediation expertise, or an experienced claim team, Nationwide’s comprehensive package of services will complement and enhance an organization’s cyber risk profile.

Nationwide currently offers up to $15 million in limits for Network Security, Data Privacy, Technology E&O, and First Party Business Interruption.

Nationwide_SponsoredContent_1016
Products underwritten by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and Affiliated Companies. Not all Nationwide affiliated companies are mutual companies, and not all Nationwide members are insured by a mutual company. Subject to underwriting guidelines, review, and approval. Products and discounts not available to all persons in all states. Home Office: One Nationwide Plaza, Columbus, OH. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and other marks displayed on this page are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, unless otherwise disclosed. © 2016 Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.

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This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Nationwide. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.




Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s.
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