By MATTHEW BRODSKY, senior editor/Web editor of Risk & Insurance®
A few common denominators stood out when we anonymously surveyed the 144 winners and 58 finalists from this year's Power Broker® competition (which will be announced here this Thursday, by the way). Good insurance brokers seem to be honest, to have a sense of humor and, perhaps most importantly for their creditors and families, to be doing quite well for themselves, thank you.
Good brokers are in demand, for one thing. When we asked them how many times in the past year that headhunters, former colleagues or other solicitors contacted them with a job offer, 44 percent of the 129 respondents said four or more times. Another 25 percent of the respondents said three times.
A whopping 81 percent--or 103 out of 127 respondents--said that they made more money in 2010 than 2009.
From the rest of us, these kinds of results deserve the clichéd "I picked the wrong business to go into" response.
When asked how many times they dreamed of a hard market in 2010, more than half of the respondents said "none." Who needs a hard market when you're making the loot at the bottom of the cycle?
Then again, you could argue that these Power Broker®respondents missed the joke, or simply said ha-rumph.
Maybe it was just a bad joke, because it does seem that these top brokers are a funny lot. Check out some of these responses from our survey.
When we asked what was their lowest and highest golf scores, one broker shot back, "I call on other brokers' clients while they are out ... playing golf instead of servicing the needs of their clients!!!"
Ouch! (Editor's note: The three exclamation marks were all his (or hers)!!!)
We asked what was the fastest speed they've driven on the road and what was the car. One respondent said they went 90 mph in a Yugo. Either that's a (albeit antiquated) joke or hopefully the riskiest thing that person's ever done in his or her life.
A gaggle of comedians came out for the question about their vote for best actor and actresses for the Academy Awards. Miley Cyrus received a few votes, and a couple of jokesters even nominated Derek Jeter, Brian the dog from the TV show Family Guy, and Keanu Reeves. The cake goes to the respondent, though, who said that best actor and actress should go to him and his wife. Moving right along ...
The humor doesn't stop there. We dared to ask our survey participants what they would rename the Power Broker® awards, and got such responses as "the PoBros," the "Super Power Broker Awards," "Insurance Black Belt Ultimate Broker Champion" and "Insurance Geeks on Steroids." For self-deprecating humor, someone suggested "Ego Broker." My favorite is "Goddess of Risk"--reminiscent of Athena come down to Earth in human form looking for some backside to boot.
Top brokers spend hours, days, weeks of their lives on planes, visiting clients and underwriters across this country and beyond, so it makes sense to ask: What was the best movie or book they took on a plane in the past year? One joker said the "ISO manual" (hopefully a joker, right?).
One respondent mentioned a book called "How to Frustrate Insurance Underwriters and Satisfy Clients." If you happen to have a spare one, please send a copy to Risk & Insurance®, care of this author. Thank you.
When our insurance brokers aren't cracking jokes, they're enjoying others'.
"It always puts me in a good mood when I see Lloyd and Harry riding that mini bike on the freeway to Aspen, Colo.," replied another broker to this question, alluding to the classic comedy Dumb and Dumber, which he or she doesn't mind watching on the plane when he or she doesn't have work to do.
Knowing how top insurance brokers operate, however, it's safe to assume that Lloyd and Harry don't get put into the laptop DVD all too often on the plane. These folks tend to be hard-driving workers and stand-up, service-minded professionals. These are the kind of George Washington-types who, when asked who they'd give Oscars to for best actor and actress, replied that they cannot answer because they haven't seen the movies in question (which multiple respondents did). They admit to golf scores of 122.
These are the type of brokers who explain how diligently they use their smart phones and other mobile technology to serve their clients, quite literally, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
As one respondent said, "My clients have 24/7 access by cell phone, and trust me, they call!"
"Check blackberry all the time. Let clients get used to calling your cell if I am not in the office. Be more efficient and let clients (know) you are at their side even if you are miles away," replied another broker when we asked them to explain their best use of mobile technology for their clients. By the way the broker wrote, we can tell he or she was doing three or four other things at the same time.
Our Power Broker®survey revealed that top brokers use mobile technology for more than just phone calls, texts and e-mails. Multiple respondents mentioned scoring last-minute renewal deals with underwriters (and frustrating them?) thanks to their smart phones. One broker converted into e-books the necessary documents for a captive board of directors so they can be accessed remotely. Another broker set up a client on the cloud to be able to automate certificates of insurance through tweeting or texting. Or how about how one respondent scoured YouTube for witness footage of a client's fire loss at a plant to facilitate recovery?
But maybe our brokers are too honest and work too hard to a fault.
"No time to think ... we live in a world that demands answers yesterday ... there is no technology that allows us to go backward," one broker wrote.
On a lighter note, in case you're wondering what our brokers responded to the aforementioned questions: The winner for best book or movie on the airplane was one or all of the installments of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy (the first being "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo").
The fastest speed ever driven by one of our brokers was 157 mph (in a "racecar") with a few other brave souls recording 155 mph. For the best golf scores of the past year, we had three brokers pencil in 73s.
For best actor and actress for the Academy Awards, Natalie Portman and Colin Firth were run-away winners, for Black Swan and The King's Speech, respectively.
February 17, 2011
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