CYRIL TUOHY, managing editor of Risk & Insurance®
Risk managers would be on the mark if they believed their brokers to be church-going Republican jocks driving foreign cars and whistling Dixie, content with their lot in life. But such beliefs would make risk managers only partly right.
Brokers, according to a Risk & Insurance survey of their personal habits, aren't afraid to reveal their sensitive sides. One broker admits to needlepoint and yoga. Another claims to moonlight as a freelance artist illustrating children's books and writing songs as he or she awaits their big break.
Either way, few are without humor or imagination.
One respondent, when asked about their golf handicap, claims to be a "professional horticulturalist," which means this broker spends a lot more time traipsing through the rough than on the fairways gauging the distance to the next pin.
Another broker claims his handicap is "seven and skyrocketing," and yet another admits to being, simply, "very handicapped," which we assume to mean during golf outings and not during tense or sensitive renewal negotiations.
In case risk managers hadn't noticed, one of the favorite activities of brokers, outside of letting loose at the country club, the ski slopes and the fitness club, is that brokers love to eat, and eat well.
The 23-question survey reveals that during business lunches, brokers are very well-behaved when it comes to ordering food, with many saying they prefer soups, salads and fish to filet mignon and caviar.
It's during dinner that brokers really loosen their belts and their bankrolls, according to the survey.
Some brokers admit to spending more than $5,000 on dinner with clients, though we suspect there was more than one client involved ... or was there? And several brokers say they don't want to remember how much they spent ... and here again, we don't believe them.
Other brokers simply can't recall, and we suspect that the fine wine brokers are used to may have had something to do with it. Risk managers will be happy to know that their brokers' tastes in wines are far from extravagant.
There are, of course, a few middlemen with a penchant for the grape, as there are in every broker crowd--or any crowd.
Ever imbibed from a $50.00 Regusci 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, or how about from a $70 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa's Alexander Valley, or even the d'Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz?
We at Risk & Insurance® have not, but some brokers have, the survey shows. So next time your broker's in town, risk managers ought to give more than a cursory glance at the wine list.
Even the couple of respondents who admitted they don't drink are likely to approve of your selection--risk managers are the client, after all, and the chances are some of you are at RIMS this week, looking to be wined and dined by your broker.
With the exception of respondents who said he or she would, given another chance, have preferred to go to medical school or the one who would have preferred a career as a criminal defense attorney, buyers will be pleased to know that brokers like their jobs, which is a requirement if you're going to be in the service business.
"I've been many things--university dean, foundation CEO, marketing executive with EDS, prep school leader," wrote one respondent, "--none as rewarding Gallagher's Religious & Nonprofit Practice."
And who are we to argue with a convert?
Broker boys and girls like to party on their Harleys, the survey found, but we suspect you won't be seeing these broker-bikers gunning their Hogs at the 69th anniversary of the Sturgis Rally in Sturgis, S.D., in August.
No, the respondents of the survey are a distinctly more subdued crowd, particularly with three, four or even five kids at home, and details of the latest property/casualty contract simmering in the back of their minds.
But who knows, if brokers shed their suits and saddled up with a couple of big-time buyers for a little bonding on the back of a Harley road trip, who knows what inhibitions would be left behind and how steep the discount come renewal time.
"I truly enjoy what I do and it is rewarding on many, many levels," wrote one survey respondent. "Interaction with people, the analysis of forms and options, learning about a myriad of different organizations and what makes them tick. But rock star, beach bum, astrophysicist, international spy all have an appeal."
... our point, exactly.
April 15, 2009
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