Over 40? Go Retire.
Never, ever trust a broker over the age of 40. The shameful display of arrogance, the wanton disregard for the interests of clients, the magnitude of the irresponsibility committed on behalf of senior executives in the price-fixing scandals that have consumed headlines over the past 18 months should give every buyer, young and old, the chills.
For such venality and corruption there is but only one answer: Throw the bums out! The embarrassing events in the insurance and the insurance brokerage world of the past two years are a case study of how the "older, wiser" men and women who run the shop are actually the wisenheimers who nearly wrecked it.
When Eliot Spitzer finally blazed away at brokers like Marsh, Aon and Willis, and at carriers like AIG, Zurich and ACE, who'd he have his sights on? Who was to blame for all that contingent-commission, price-fixing client ramrodding? Was it a recently promoted college graduate looking to impress his first buyer and seller alike? A young broker on the make? A merry band of carefree upstarts? No, none of these.
Spitzer had in his sights the veterans of veterans, older men (mostly)--leaders of billion-dollar companies--folks with 20, 30, 40 years of experience under their belts. He had in his sights folks with graduate degrees framed in their corner offices, men and women considered the industry's "elder statesmen," folks armed with professional designations galore.
These scoundrels at the top--of which there were admittedly few--were all older than 40, I guarantee it.
As a member of the under-40 generation, I can't trust the over-40 set, let alone ask their help with a commercial insurance renewal.
And, cynics, I hear you. Every generation has its financial scandal, you say, every generation will be corrupt. But that's true only because of the corrupting influence of the previous generation, which teaches us that this is the way we've always done it, and this is the way it'll always been done. That's why, here and now, everyone in the broking business over 40 ought to file for retirement. Leave while we of the fresh face and lively step are still na´ve, still optimistic, still ethical. Leave now before you pass on your wicked ways. Leave today so we can fix the system you wrecked.
Now if corruption isn't enough reason to work only with brokers under 40, I've got a few other arrows in my quiver. Technological know-how . . . now that's too easy.
How about experience? The over-40 set have it all, and the youngsters need to get some, right?
Nope. In this case long experience can sometimes get in the way of success, especially in brave, new worlds like insurance post-2005. Nowadays, flexibility and ingenuity are what do the trick. Let's talk only about electronic transactions, and let's make time only for virtual meetings. Let's start anew, but this time in the world of cyberspace.
Nimble youth, unencumbered by habit, has the quick intellect to act on all the options available. The old guard, on the other hand, has its thinking trapped in the box of what's worked for them in the past.
And let's not forget energy. Viagra can only go so far. When you look at most brokers over 40, they've got wives or husbands, second wives or husbands, or even third wives or husbands; and they've got kids, their kids' college educations, and first, second and third mortgages compounding the work worries on their brains.
Generation X brokers have none of these chains holding them back. They've got as close to an 18-year-old's metabolism as you'll find, which is saying something in this conservative business. And they've got everything to prove. Young brokers are like guns. Point them at a problem and let them loose. As we learned earlier, the problems in the broker and insurance universe were caused by the old guard at the top.
So, you of the deepening wrinkles, the crinkled stares, the bulging middles, you have no choice but to step aside and let my generation take over. Point us youngsters at the problem--your mess--and pull the trigger.
is the under-40 associate editor of
Risk & Insurance«.
June 1, 2006
Copyright 2006© LRP Publications