Power Brokers: Now you see them, now you don't; here today, gone tomorrow--in search of more capacity for clients, of course. So, just who are these polished, urbane and often highly educated members of a nomadic tribe of middlemen (and women) roaming the marketplace invisibly tethered to clients through wireless devices?
Who are these intermediaries who toil, risk managers like to believe, so hard for their clients? Who are these men and women of whom so much is expected? There's no question risk executives want an awful lot from a Risk & Insurance® Power Broker in 2007.
Risk executives, for example, say they want from their broker creativity and innovation; a solid, ongoing relationship; superb negotiation skills; absolute ethics; an insider's understanding of the client's industry; strong communication skills; and a big dose of persistence.
Do Power Brokers deliver all these attributes? Is it even possible? Does it even make sense to stereotype a Power Broker? Probably not, but the following bullet points give readers a snapshot of the "typical" Power Broker and the Power Brokers 2007 as a group. The typical Power Broker among this year's winners was likely to be a New Yorker with 21 years of experience in the brokerage business working at one of the four largest firms, who had probably changed jobs at least three or four times in his or her career.
As for some of the overall highlights of the winning brokers this year:
* About 75 percent of the Power Brokers are men: 113 men versus 37 women.
* The median amount of brokerage experience is 21 years--and men, with 23 years of experience, are slightly more experienced than women, with 20 years.
* 63 brokers have some kind of industry educational designation. There are 30 CPCU designations and 26 ARM designations.
* The four largest broker firms account for more than two-thirds of the winners. Marsh has 47 winners, Aon has 33 winners, Arthur J. Gallagher has 15 winners and Willis has 14 winners.
* About one-third of the winners come from the Northeast, including the New York, Philadelphia and Boston metropolitan markets. The balance of the winners are spread all over the United States.
Despite their heavy travel schedules and packed agendas, these brokers lead active lives. They have families, extracurricular commitments to local communities and even love to "loosen up" when the time is right.
Take Craig Bowlus, a Power Broker with Marsh in the gaming sector. In his spare time, he's in a rock band that plays regularly in the San Francisco area. The band is called "The Endorsements." Power Brokers are neither without humor, nor without other talents.
And, of course, as just about every risk manager knows, Power Brokers love to play golf.
When brokers were on the road this year, some worked harder than others.
Brokers with clients in the energy and oil sectors had one of their busiest years ever as they scrambled to find more capacity for clients hit hard by the brutal 2005 hurricane season.
Their creativity and their ability to serve customers were tested, and for perhaps the first time in memory, oil and gas brokers were congratulated for keeping renewal increases to double-digits.
Brokers with gaming and hospitality clients also found themselves doing double-duty in 2006 as a number of their clients on the Gulf Coast--or any CAT-prone area--took a hit.
In addition to the profiles of Power Brokers in each industry practice area, we also interviewed individual brokers who are new to the list this year, and possess relatively less experience in brokerage, to find out how they decided to become brokers.
Those special profiles are interspersed throughout the section, and you can identify them by the special "Rookie Power Broker" logo. They are the ones to watch in the future as they move up through the ranks of the industry and as veterans pass on their responsibilities to another generation.
2007 AND 2006 COMPARED
In the inaugural list of Power Brokers last year, because it was our first effort at this kind of extensive research, the list included many brokers cited, in effect, for a "lifetime achievement award."
Not this year. In 2007, we took more of a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately focus, because risk executives are concerned about what brokers have done for them, not what they've done for someone else 20 years ago.
Brokers and risk managers were asked to cite specific examples of what a broker accomplished during 2006 to deserve recognition. Many of the risk managers gave very specific descriptions of how particular brokers solved difficult claims, coverage or pricing issues for their clients.
If anything, this year's list tends to focus more on brokers' day-to-day, ongoing contact with their clients, rather than on brokers managing other brokers.
Last year, we identified Power Brokers in 21 industry practice groups. This year, we expanded that number to 27 groups. Last year, we listed 106 Power Brokers, but we list 150 Power Brokers this year. The expanded number of brokers comes about because of the increase in the number of practice groups, but we also identified up to six brokers in a category--whereas, we limited recognition last year to no more than five brokers per category, and sometimes only four.
Last year, a number of Power Brokers were cited in more than one category. For example, one broker received the Power Broker designation in both telecommunications and hospitality. This year, brokers could be named a Power Broker in only one category. That also accounted for the expanded number of individual brokers listed this year.
During the past year, we received more than 1,000 nominations. In each of the industry practice groups, we interviewed key risk managers to find out, confidentially, who they thought were the best brokers in their industries based on the brokers' performances during 2006.
Every profile will be available on our Web site, www.riskandinsurance.com, as will forms for the 2008 Power Brokers.
is editor in chief of Risk & Insurance®.
February 1, 2007
Copyright 2007© LRP Publications