By CYRIL TUOHY, managing editor of Risk & Insurance®
Mark Rothert, incoming president of the American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA), believes in unidentified flying objects, not the extraterrestrial spaceships in the movie "ET," of course, but what he and the AAMGA internally call the "Under-40 Organization," or "UFOs" for short.
Those are the AAMGA's younger managing general agents who will be expected to carry out the organization's vision as the AAMGA begins a number of technology initiatives.
Rothert, who will become the new president at the AAMGA's annual conference scheduled for May 23-26 in Palm Desert, Calif., said he's been pleasantly surprised by the interest he's received from younger members in taking the initiative with regard to the latest technology.
"The UFOs really want to get into the nuts and bolts of how the whole operation works, not just the committee meetings," said Rothert, president of the Ron Rothert Insurance Services Inc. agency in Portland, Ore. "They've been very involved in the automation committee and with the marketing committee."
Rothert, who is taking over from outgoing President Curtis Anderson, said the AAMGA's marketing and automation committees were working hard to make the AAMGA Web page more viable and far more interactive.
Social networking sites LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are at the top of the list when it comes to recruiting new members and alerting older members of the goings-on within the AAMGA, said Rothert. He also said that the AAMGA had endowed a professorship at Georgia State University ? the AAMGA Distinguished Chair for Insurance and Risk Management ? with the goal of educating and eliciting interest in the distribution of excess and surplus lines coverage among a new generation of students.
"The insurance programs at other universities are not good at explaining the E&S market to students and so through different venues we're trying to contact these schools and we want to let them know that E&S is a viable marketplace any way you look at it," said Rothert.
The more the AAMGA can generate some excitement around the excess and surplus lines marketplace, the more likely it is to attract the interest of the so-called UFOs.
"That's the other side of it," he said. "Letting students coming out of the universities know that it's exciting to be in the excess and surplus lines marketplace, and that it's not just learning a bunch of actuarial information."
Long a club populated by family-run agencies, the managing general agencies are starting to change, according to executives with the King of Prussia-Pa.-based AAMGA.
Anderson, the outgoing president, said he spent hours last year with AAMGA staff to updating the group's bylaws to reflect changes in the marketplace and coming demographic changes to the marketplace.
"The UFO Board stepped it up this year," said Anderson. "They are having successful conference calls and successful meetings. They are proving to their agency owners that the meetings and networking they are doing is beneficial to their future development."
The changes were inevitable, said Rothert, as more people are coming into the AAMGA from the carrier side and the corporate side. Perhaps he put it best: "It's not just a family-run business anymore and we need to adapt the association to meet the needs of the membership."
May 1, 2010
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