2014 Power Broker: Under 40

Young Talent Pushing Forward

Many insurance professionals say they “fell into” the industry. Our Power Broker® winners and finalists under age 40 are no different, crediting their introduction to the business largely to family members who got them an “in.” Their experiences entering and working their way up through the ranks demonstrate both the strengths and weaknesses of the industry, and paint a picture of what the future may hold.

2014 Under-40 rankings sponsored by:

The Institues

Denton Christner, 36, a Power Broker® in the Gaming and Hospitality category, started working as a file clerk in his father’s Allstate agency as a high school student. He stayed with Allstate through college and eventually became an agent at the age of 21.

After agency consolidation left him and other brokers with smaller books looking for other options, he took a tip from another family member and went the independent route, joining BayRisk Insurance Brokers at 24.

Eleven years later, Christner is vice president and has helped BayRisk build its biggest new business source: a program for food truck insurance. Taking advantage of social media and online marketing, he has used the Internet as a primary sales driver, bringing InsureMyFoodTruck.com to the top of search engine results lists.

“Trying to sell commercial insurance to business owners who are oftentimes 10, 20 or 30 years my senior was very difficult. That was a big obstacle as a young agent, trying to prove my professionalism.”
— Denton Christner, vice president, Bay Risk Insurance Brokers

“It was an amazing experience; totally life-changing,” Christner said. “I pretty much ate, slept and breathed food trucks for 18 months getting it launched.”

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Lindsay Roos, 30, and a Power Broker® in the Pharmaceutical category, secured an internship with Marsh as a college junior with the help of a family member. In fact, internships and early training programs are a common thread among our young success stories.

“I interned in our Morristown, N.J., office for two years,” said Roos, a vice president and excess casualty placement broker at Bowring Marsh. “It was my first real work experience, and I really liked the work and the company. Most importantly, I really liked the people.” Marsh hired Roos into a graduate training program that gave her a well-rounded and formalized immersion in the industry alongside her peers.

Kate Simons, a 28-year-old Power Broker® finalist in the Retail category, took a summer internship with Aon as a college student “without really knowing what it was at first.” But the program drew her in, opening up the world of learning opportunities that the insurance industry has to offer.

“In this job, the thing I like is that you ultimately get to learn about all the industries your clients are in, whether it’s retail, real estate, manufacturing, food, and the list goes on and on,” she said.

Like Roos, Simons participated in an early career development program at the company. The 18-month training helped her home in on what aspects of insurance most appealed to her and exposed her to key mentors, leading her to her current position as senior broker.

“I also felt that the industry had a really good focus on developing young talent and investing in the future,” Simons said.

Attracting Graduates

Indeed, internships and intensive training programs continue to be key tools in bringing new grads into the fold.

Big brokers like Aon, Marsh and Beecher Carlson reach out to colleges to find prospective talent and introduce them to the industry. If all goes according to plan, those interns become full-time hires.

A year or two of initial training for new employees gets their feet wet in every aspect of the business. Those onboarding programs help young brokers find what niche appeals to them, and in what function they can excel.

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For many, that process helps young professionals move on from simply “falling into” insurance to really embracing it as a rewarding and exciting career.

As evidence of these programs’ successes, notice that this year’s “Under 40” class of winners and finalists includes 60 brokers, as opposed to last year’s 40. More young brokers are thriving in the business.

“The best experience comes from clinging onto some good people who are willing to teach you.”

— Lindsay Roos, vice president, Bowring Marsh

Yet, for an industry that invests considerable time and resources in developing new talent, the concern remains that not enough young people realize the benefits of working in insurance. In spite of a wealth of opportunity, the influx of new grads remains troublingly low.

“There are not enough young people getting into insurance, unfortunately,” Christner said. “It takes a lot of convincing and hand-holding and mentorship to get new producers settled into their career.”

Roos echoed that thought, noting that most college students aren’t necessarily looking for a professional career in insurance, but end up there via a tangential skill or interest.

That’s how a career in insurance brokering developed for Blythe O’Brien Hogan, a director in the Global Fine Arts Practice at Aon. O’Brien Hogan majored in art history as an undergraduate, then pursued a master’s degree in art business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. That got her interested in art protection, both for personal collections as well as in transit or on display in a gallery or museum. She eventually wrote her master’s thesis on the development of insurance and risk management for fine art.

“From there I segued into the very dynamic, but a little bit niche, risk management insurance industry for fine art collections,” she said.

Aon’s Global Fine Arts Practice, launched in 2005, allowed O’Brien Hogan, a Power Broker® in the Fine Arts category, to work more closely with all players in the art industry, from handlers, shippers, storage facilities, and conservators to appraisers and tax attorneys.

Growing Pains

Despite being given opportunities and responsibilities early in their careers, many young brokers have had to overcome ageism in order to move ahead.

“Trying to sell commercial insurance to business owners who are oftentimes 10, 20 or 30 years my senior was very difficult,” Christner said. “That was a big obstacle as a young agent, trying to prove my professionalism.”

“It is challenging at times to get people to look past your age,” Simons said. “Being younger and still successful; sometimes, people tend to look for a little gray hair.”

Ultimately, though, a sound working knowledge of clients’ industries wins out, gaining their trust and building a positive reputation.

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Seth Cohen, 30, and an Entertainment Power Broker®, worked around the challenges of youth and inexperience by focusing on educational opportunities and industry training.

“I realized I could really accelerate my experience beyond my years,” said Cohen, an entertainment area vice president with Arthur J. Gallagher. “I got my ARM and CPCU as quickly as I could. I took a UCLA filmmaking and production course that was very intensive. I continue to attend media law conferences. Staying on top of current affairs helps to stay ahead of your inexperience.”

A little persistence never hurt either.

“Hard work and perseverance, being creative and asking questions has been the way to work through all that,” Simons said.

Younger brokers also have the advantage of greater familiarity with changing technologies, which shape industry best practices in a number of ways. Social media and online marketing are becoming increasingly common and important ways to reach clients, as Christner proved with the success of his food truck program. Sophisticated data analysis and modeling are now equally invaluable items in the broker’s toolbox.

“The younger generation probably embraces it more and adapts better,” Simons said. “They have more innovative thoughts as far as asking, ‘What else can I do with this technology and data to look at things a different way?’ ”

Tips for Success

So what can entry-level brokers learn from our Under 40 winners and finalists? First and foremost: Pounce on every new venture.

“I would say take advantage of every single opportunity, meaning every chance to be involved with other professionals [in the industry],” O’Brien Hogan said.

Simons echoed that advice. “Jump on every opportunity, and there are many in the industry, but you have to make the most of them,” she said. “Work hard. Be confident.”

And that uncle, sister or cousin with experience in the field? Tap into their knowledge base, and pick mentors’ brains as often as possible.

“The best experience comes from clinging onto some good people who are willing to teach you,” Roos said.

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Finally, the best brokers — no matter what their age — always have an in-depth knowledge of their customers’ industries. Specializing in areas of interest helps develop expertise that clients covet.

“Knowing the industry is key,” O’Brien Hogan said. “From all different angles — not just insurance, but all the little components that go into risk management.”

While challenges remain for the industry’s stability and growth potential, the growing number of Under 40 Power Broker® winners and finalists offers hope that the industry will remain dynamic for the future.

Listing of Power Broker Winners and Finalists Under 40:

Sarah Allison Senior Vice President Marsh, New York

Sarah Allison
Senior Vice President
Marsh, New York

James Bernstein, 34 Mercer, Cincinnati Employee Benefits

James Bernstein, 34
Mercer, Cincinnati
Employee Benefits

Morgan Anderson, 36 Arthur J. Gallagher, Irvine, Calif. Real Estate

Morgan Anderson, 36 Gallagher, Irvine, Calif.
Real Estate

Charles Blackmon, 34 Krauter & Co., Chicago Private Equity

Charles Blackmon, 34
Krauter & Co., Chicago
Private Equity

Joseph Braunstein, 37 Marsh, New York Aviation

Joseph Braunstein, 37
Marsh, New York
Aviation

Denton Christner, 35 BayRisk Insurance Brokers, Inc., Alameda, Calif. Gaming/Hospitality

Denton Christner, 35
BayRisk, Calif.
Gaming/Hospitality

Krista Cinotti, 35 Willis, New York Financial Services - Banking

Krista Cinotti, 35
Willis, New York
Financial Services

Seth Cohen, 30 Arthur J. Gallagher, Glendale, Calif. Entertainment

Seth Cohen, 30
Gallagher, California
Entertainment

Anne Corona, 36 Aon, Los Angeles Gaming/ Hospitality

Anne Corona, 36
Aon, Los Angeles
Gaming/ Hospitality

Bryan Eure, 34 Willis, New York Real Estate

Bryan Eure, 34
Willis, New York
Real Estate

Lindy Connery, 29 Marsh, New York Technology

Lindy Connery, 29
Marsh, New York
Technology

Ariel Duris, 38 Aon, Denver Aviation, Financial Services - Banking

Ariel Duris, 38
Aon, Denver
Financial Services

Larissa Gallagher, 26 Aon, Southfield, Mich. Chemicals & Refining

Larissa Gallagher, 26
Aon, Southfield, Mich.
Chemicals & Refining

Elisa Black, 28 Aon, Chicago Automotive

Elisa Black, 28
Aon, Chicago
Automotive

David Garrett, 37 John L. Wortham & Son, Houston Private Equity

David Garrett, 37
Wortham Ins., Houston
Private Equity

Jim Gillette, 34 EPIC, Los Angeles Retailing/ Wholesaling

Jim Gillette, 34
EPIC, Los Angeles
Retail

Mike Gingrich, 38 Neace Lukens, Dayton, Ohio Workers' Comp

Mike Gingrich, 38
Neace Lukens, Ohio
Workers’ Comp

Angela Giunto, 37 Aon, Denver Gaming/ Hospitality

Angela Giunto, 37
Aon, Denver
Gaming/ Hospitality

Meaghan Haney, 27 Aon, Washington Education

Meaghan Haney, 27
Aon, Washington
Education

Chris Heinicke, 38 Aon, Hamilton, Bermuda Automotive

Chris Heinicke, 38
Aon, Bermuda
Automotive

Matthew Heinz, 37 Aon, New York Private Equity

Matthew Heinz, 37
Aon, New York
Private Equity

Drew Johnston, 38 Aon, Wichita, Kan, Aviation

Drew Johnston, 38
Aon, Wichita, Kan,
Aviation

Jared McElroy, 33 Aon, Cincinnati Chemicals & Refining

Jared McElroy, 33
Aon, Cincinnati
Chemicals & Refining

Brian Lu, 32 Aon, New York Environmental

Brian Lu, 32
Aon, New York
Environmental

Matt Mautz, 33 Beecher Carlson, Atlanta Workers' Comp

Matt Mautz, 33
Beecher Carlson, 
Workers’ Comp

Tyler LaMantia, 27 Arthur J. Gallagher, Itasca, Ill. Public Sector

Tyler LaMantia, 27
Gallagher, Itasca, Ill.
Public Sector

Lorrie McNaught, 39 Aon/ Albert G. Ruben, Sherman Oaks, Calif. Entertainment

Lorrie McNaught, 39
Aon, California
Entertainment

Keith Montone, 31 Willis, Radnor, Pa. Environmental

Keith Montone, 31
Willis, Radnor, Pa.
Environmental

Anthony Moraes, 36 Integro Insurance Brokers, San Francisco Technology

Anthony Moraes, 36
Integro, San Francisco
Technology

Sean Murphy, 34 Arthur J. Gallagher, Houston Gaming/ Hospitality

Sean Murphy, 34
Gallagher, Houston
Gaming/ Hospitality

Lee Newmark, 26 Arthur J. Gallagher, Itasca, Ill. Health Care

Lee Newmark, 26
Gallagher, Itasca, Ill.
Health Care

Tandis M. H. Nili, 33 Aon, New York Real Estate

Tandis M. H. Nili, 33
Aon, New York
Real Estate

Blythe O'Brien, 29 Aon, New York Real Estate

Blythe O’Brien, 29
Aon, New York
Real Estate

Dennis O'Neill Jr., 33 Aon, Philadelphia Retailing/ Wholesaling

Dennis O’Neill Jr., 33
Aon, Philadelphia
Retail

Michael O'Neill, 35 Aon, New York Pharmaceuticals

Michael O’Neill, 35
Aon, New York
Pharmaceuticals

Stefanie Pearl, 33 Marsh, New York Financial Services - Banking

Stefanie Pearl, 33
Marsh, New York
Financial Services

Adrian Pellen, 30 Aon, New York Environmental

Adrian Pellen, 30
Aon, New York
Environmental

Mary Pontillo, 37 DeWitt Stern, New York Fine Arts

Mary Pontillo, 37
DeWitt Stern, New York
Fine Arts

Samuel Pugatch, 31 DeWitt Stern, New York Fine Arts

Samuel Pugatch, 31
DeWitt Stern, New York
Fine Arts

Brendan Quinlan, 34 Arthur J. Gallagher, San Francisco Utilities

Brendan Quinlan, 34
Gallagher, Calif.
Utilities

Chris Rafferty, 34 Aon, Chicago Automotive

Chris Rafferty, 34
Aon, Chicago
Automotive

Lindsay Roos, 30 Marsh, Hamilton, Bermuda Pharmaceuticals

Lindsay Roos, 30
Marsh, Bermuda
Pharmaceuticals

Duncan Ross, 35 Marsh, London Energy - Traditional

Duncan Ross, 35
Marsh, London
Energy – Traditional

James Sallada, 34 Marsh, New York Retailing/ Wholesaling

James Sallada, 34
Marsh, New York
Retail

Scott Schachter, 39 Marsh, New York Entertainment

Scott Schachter, 39
Marsh, New York
Entertainment

Aaron Simpson, 37 Aon, Philadelphia Pharmaceuticals

Aaron Simpson, 37
Aon, Philadelphia
Pharmaceuticals

Sharon Sotelo-Lee, 39 Integro Insurance Brokers, San Francisco Technology

Sharon Sotelo-Lee, 39
Integro, San Francisco
Technology

Stephen Stoicovy, 27 Aon, Houston Chemicals & Refining

Stephen Stoicovy, 27
Aon, Houston
Chemicals & Refining

Marc Toy, 38 Beecher Carlson, San Francisco Energy - Alternative

Marc Toy, 38
Beecher Carlson, Calif.
Energy – Alternative

Andy Vetor, 34 MJ Insurance, Indianapolis Employee Benefits

Andy Vetor, 34
MJ Insurance, Ind.
Employee Benefits

Gina Visor, 35 Marsh, Charlotte, N.C. Utilities

Gina Visor, 35
Marsh, Charlotte, N.C.
Utilities

Michael White, 37 Beecher Carlson, Atlanta Construction

Michael White, 37
Beecher Carlson, 
Construction

Ross Wheeler, 37 Aon, Chicago Retailing/ Wholesaling

Ross Wheeler, 37
Aon, Chicago
Retail

Alexander Zavala, 33 Willis, New York Real Estate

Alexander Zavala, 33
Willis, New York
Real Estate

Clayton Corbett, 29 Aon, Houston Energy - Alternative

Clayton Corbett, 29
Aon, Houston
Energy – Alternative

Neil Cayabyab, 34 Marsh, Irvine, Calif. Utilities

Neil Cayabyab, 34
Marsh, Irvine, Calif.
Utilities

Brandon Cole, 29 Arthur J. Gallagher, Greenwood Village, Colo. Nonprofit

Brandon Cole, 29
Gallagher, Colo.
Nonprofit

Helena Lai, 34 Aon - Huntington T. Block Insurance Agency, Washington Fine Arts

Helena Lai, 34
Aon, Washington DC
Fine Arts

Adam Rekerdres, 35 Rekerdres & Sons Insurance Agency, Dallas Marine

Adam Rekerdres, 35
Rekerdres & Sons, Dallas
Marine

Kate Simons, 28 Aon, Chicago Retailing/ Wholesaling

Kate Simons, 28
Aon, Chicago
Retail

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Insurtech

Kiss Your Annual Renewal Goodbye; On-Demand Insurance Challenges the Traditional Policy

Gig workers' unique insurance needs drive delivery of on-demand coverage.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 6 min read

The gig economy is growing. Nearly six million Americans, or 3.8 percent of the U.S. workforce, now have “contingent” work arrangements, with a further 10.6 million in categories such as independent contractors, on-call workers or temporary help agency staff and for-contract firms, often with well-known names such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb.

Scott Walchek, founding chairman and CEO, Trōv

The number of Americans owning a drone is also increasing — one recent survey suggested as much as one in 12 of the population — sparking vigorous debate on how regulation should apply to where and when the devices operate.

Add to this other 21st century societal changes, such as consumers’ appetite for other electronic gadgets and the advent of autonomous vehicles. It’s clear that the cover offered by the annually renewable traditional insurance policy is often not fit for purpose. Helped by the sophistication of insurance technology, the response has been an expanding range of ‘on-demand’ covers.

The term ‘on-demand’ is open to various interpretations. For Scott Walchek, founding chairman and CEO of pioneering on-demand insurance platform Trōv, it’s about “giving people agency over the items they own and enabling them to turn on insurance cover whenever they want for whatever they want — often for just a single item.”

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“On-demand represents a whole new behavior and attitude towards insurance, which for years has very much been a case of ‘get it and forget it,’ ” said Walchek.

Trōv’s mobile app enables users to insure just a single item, such as a laptop, whenever they wish and to also select the period of cover required. When ready to buy insurance, they then snap a picture of the sales receipt or product code of the item they want covered.

Welcoming Trōv: A New On-Demand Arrival

While Walchek, who set up Trōv in 2012, stressed it’s a technology company and not an insurance company, it has attracted industry giants such as AXA and Munich Re as partners. Trōv began the U.S. roll-out of its on-demand personal property products this summer by launching in Arizona, having already established itself in Australia and the United Kingdom.

“Australia and the UK were great testing grounds, thanks to their single regulatory authorities,” said Walchek. “Trōv is already approved in 45 states, and we expect to complete the process in all by November.

“On-demand products have a particular appeal to millennials who love the idea of having control via their smart devices and have embraced the concept of an unbundling of experiences: 75 percent of our users are in the 18 to 35 age group.” – Scott Walchek, founding chairman and CEO, Trōv

“On-demand products have a particular appeal to millennials who love the idea of having control via their smart devices and have embraced the concept of an unbundling of experiences: 75 percent of our users are in the 18 to 35 age group,” he added.

“But a mass of tectonic societal shifts is also impacting older generations — on-demand cover fits the new ways in which they work, particularly the ‘untethered’ who aren’t always in the same workplace or using the same device. So we see on-demand going into societal lifestyle changes.”

Wooing Baby Boomers

In addition to its backing for Trōv, across the Atlantic, AXA has partnered with Insurtech start-up By Miles, launching a pay-as-you-go car insurance policy in the UK. The product is promoted as low-cost car insurance for drivers who travel no more than 140 miles per week, or 7,000 miles annually.

“Due to the growing need for these products, companies such as Marmalade — cover for learner drivers — and Cuvva — cover for part-time drivers — have also increased in popularity, and we expect to see more enter the market in the near future,” said AXA UK’s head of telematics, Katy Simpson.

Simpson confirmed that the new products’ initial appeal is to younger motorists, who are more regular users of new technology, while older drivers are warier about sharing too much personal information. However, she expects this to change as on-demand products become more prevalent.

“Looking at mileage-based insurance, such as By Miles specifically, it’s actually older generations who are most likely to save money, as the use of their vehicles tends to decline. Our job is therefore to not only create more customer-centric products but also highlight their benefits to everyone.”

Another Insurtech ready to partner with long-established names is New York-based Slice Labs, which in the UK is working with Legal & General to enter the homeshare insurance market, recently announcing that XL Catlin will use its insurance cloud services platform to create the world’s first on-demand cyber insurance solution.

“For our cyber product, we were looking for a partner on the fintech side, which dovetailed perfectly with what Slice was trying to do,” said John Coletti, head of XL Catlin’s cyber insurance team.

“The premise of selling cyber insurance to small businesses needs a platform such as that provided by Slice — we can get to customers in a discrete, seamless manner, and the partnership offers potential to open up other products.”

Slice Labs’ CEO Tim Attia added: “You can roll up on-demand cover in many different areas, ranging from contract workers to vacation rentals.

“The next leap forward will be provided by the new economy, which will create a range of new risks for on-demand insurance to respond to. McKinsey forecasts that by 2025, ecosystems will account for 30 percent of global premium revenue.

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“When you’re a start-up, you can innovate and question long-held assumptions, but you don’t have the scale that an insurer can provide,” said Attia. “Our platform works well in getting new products out to the market and is scalable.”

Slice Labs is now reviewing the emerging markets, which aren’t hampered by “old, outdated infrastructures,” and plans to test the water via a hackathon in southeast Asia.

Collaboration Vs Competition

Insurtech-insurer collaborations suggest that the industry noted the banking sector’s experience, which names the tech disruptors before deciding partnerships, made greater sense commercially.

“It’s an interesting correlation,” said Slice’s managing director for marketing, Emily Kosick.

“I believe the trend worth calling out is that the window for insurers to innovate is much shorter, thanks to the banking sector’s efforts to offer omni-channel banking, incorporating mobile devices and, more recently, intelligent assistants like Alexa for personal banking.

“Banks have bought into the value of these technology partnerships but had the benefit of consumer expectations changing slowly with them. This compares to insurers who are in an ever-increasing on-demand world where the risk is high for laggards to be left behind.”

As with fintechs in banking, Insurtechs initially focused on the retail segment, with 75 percent of business in personal lines and the remainder in the commercial segment.

“Banks have bought into the value of these technology partnerships but had the benefit of consumer expectations changing slowly with them. This compares to insurers who are in an ever-increasing on-demand world where the risk is high for laggards to be left behind.” — Emily Kosick, managing director, marketing, Slice

Those proportions may be set to change, with innovations such as digital commercial insurance brokerage Embroker’s recent launch of the first digital D&O liability insurance policy, designed for venture capital-backed tech start-ups and reinsured by Munich Re.

Embroker said coverage that formerly took weeks to obtain is now available instantly.

“We focus on three main issues in developing new digital business — what is the customer’s pain point, what is the expense ratio and does it lend itself to algorithmic underwriting?” said CEO Matt Miller. “Workers’ compensation is another obvious class of insurance that can benefit from this approach.”

Jason Griswold, co-founder and chief operating officer of Insurtech REIN, highlighted further opportunities: “I’d add a third category to personal and business lines and that’s business-to-business-to-consumer. It’s there we see the biggest opportunities for partnering with major ecosystems generating large numbers of insureds and also big volumes of data.”

For now, insurers are accommodating Insurtech disruption. Will that change?

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“Insurtechs have focused on products that regulators can understand easily and for which there is clear existing legislation, with consumer protection and insurer solvency the two issues of paramount importance,” noted Shawn Hanson, litigation partner at law firm Akin Gump.

“In time, we could see the disruptors partner with reinsurers rather than primary carriers. Another possibility is the likes of Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook and Apple, with their massive balance sheets, deciding to link up with a reinsurer,” he said.

“You can imagine one of them finding a good Insurtech and buying it, much as Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods gave it entry into the retail sector.” &

Graham Buck is a UK-based writer and has contributed to Risk & Insurance® since 1998. He can be reached at riskletters.com.