By DAN REYNOLDS, senior editor of Risk & Insurance®
It's one thing to create synchronicity among your various business units. It's quite another to have been gifted with some of that synchronicity in the genesis of your business.
Such is the happy circumstance that Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA Inc.'s CEO and President Neal R. Aton finds himself in.
Sure, there is always work to do to marry company cultures in the cases of mergers and acquisitions. Or to make business units work together better once you've formed them. But as the CEO of an insurance brokerage that is celebrating 10 years of being owned by a bank, Aton already finds himself in a corporate culture that is predicated on sharing resources.
"I like to quote our leader John Stumpf (president and CEO of Wells Fargo), who says our culture is: We share our toys," Aton told Risk & Insurance® during a sit-down interview on the clamoring conference exhibition floor at the annual meeting of the Risk and Insurance Management Society Inc. (RIMS) in Vancouver this week.
Being the largest insurance broker that is owned by a bank also means that Wells Fargo's business growth goals are defined by the universe of the parent company, to a degree.
"We have a stated aim of becoming the insurance distributor for one in five of Wells Fargo's customers from the retail customer to the Fortune 500 customer to everyone in between," Aton said.
Currently, he estimates that ratio at about one in 13 or 14. Among domestic brokerages, Wells Fargo is either the fourth largest or fifth largest, depending on how you look at the numbers. But in keeping with that focus on being a brokerage owned by a bank, Aton said, he doesn't want to measure himself against the Aons and Marshes of the world--rather on how the insurance brokerage he runs functions within the organism that is the bank and the brokerage.
"My aspiration for growth is tied to how well we can penetrate and serve the Wells Fargo base of customers across all of our businesses and how well I can bring those businesses into serving them," Aton said.
Spoken like a company man, or someone who knows from whence his strength derives?
Probably a little of both. Aton pointed to a Wells Fargo culture that celebrates talent, is decentralized (with around 1 percent of its workforce in its Chicago headquarters), and which works very hard at breaking down silos and getting people to work together.
The company won a top ranking from industry research firm Greenwich Associates for work in the middle market in 2010, so all of that must be paying off.
May 4, 2011
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