84 Insurance Brokers You Haven’t Heard the Last Of
Every year, Risk & Insurance® recognizes the best of the best in insurance brokering.
These Power Brokers exemplify creative risk solutions, exceptional customer service and a profound knowledge of the industry across 29 sectors. This year, 190 brokers were named as 2020 Power Broker® winners and finalists.
Of these, 84 winners and finalists were under the age of 40, making them Risk & Insurance Rising Stars.
In an industry ripe with possibility, Rising Stars have carved out a place for themselves early in their careers. They are recognized for their passion for the industry and doing the right thing for their clients.
“I enjoy solving complex issues for my clients,” said Will Wilson, Jr., age 27, risk adviser and partner, McNeal, Sports & Wilson Risk Advisers.
In Wilson’s view, the general public tends to have a negative perception of what insurance actually does. So, for Wilson, an At-Large Power Broker, finding clients with problems to solve and then solving them in a way that shows the value of the industry motivates him: “It’s the gas to my engine,” he said.
For other Rising Stars, the drive to perform well for their clients comes from an inherent desire to help others succeed. Emily Weiss Schaffer, age 34, said, “I want to be good at the job I do. I take pride in the work I do, and to have clients value what I do for them is invaluable.”
Schaffer, a Fine Arts Power Broker and senior account executive at DeWitt Stern, a division of Risk Strategies, doesn’t want insurance to ever be the obstacle in her clients’ way.
“I never want insurance to hold something up or prevent a piece from getting into an exhibition,” she said.
“In the art world, there are a lot of moving pieces, and insurance tends to be the last thing on the clients’ minds.”
The Road to Becoming a Power Broker
What really sets these Power Broker Rising Stars apart is their need to build relationships that last.
“Brokering requires a number of skills — a mixing of people skills with analytical thinking — particularly when dealing with high-profile clients in C-suites at large companies,” said Clare McCarrick, senior associate at Willis Towers Watson.
In 2019, McCarrick was instrumental in placing coverages related to one of the largest IPOs in U.S. history. At just 29 years old, this Finance Power Broker worked tirelessly to get the coverage her clients needed, utilizing analytics and communicating her findings with her clients.
She built trust with her clientele, letting the data she collected illuminate areas in need of improvement and demonstrating the potential advantages of alternative program structures.
“The fun part [of the job] is meeting the people, seeing the support systems in place and developing a unique relationship with those in the industry,” she said.
For Wilson, his clients see exactly what a good relationship can bring: the best results. He became a Power Broker by going the extra mile to secure improved coverage and save his clients thousands of dollars in premiums.
Digging down deep into four years’ worth of historical payroll and claims data, Wilson was able to immediately reduce overall premium spend by 16% and future term premium spend by 27% for one client.
“I saw what they wanted to achieve, and I wanted to show I could get that for them,” he said. “I try to go above and beyond, because I want my clients to view me as an investment, rather than an expense.”
Schaffer, too, builds relationships that last. Her proactive nature is what keeps her clients ahead of growing risks in the fine arts industry. Last year, she noticed several ADA claims were coming in against shop owners and other retail venues as the public demanded accessibility for those with disabilities.
“Galleries could be hit hard with a claim if they didn’t have ramps leading into the main entrance,” she explained. So, she sent an email to her clients and discussed the ways in which each could be better compliant with ADA regulations. EPLI coverage or updating their websites were just two items they discussed.
Entering into insurance, “I learned that I could carve out a space for myself in art and advocate for these clients,” Schaffer added. “The longer one works in the industry, the stronger relationships grow.”
Always Staying Proactive
Although they have great accomplishments already under their belts, these young professionals are just getting started. McCarrick, Schaffer and Wilson all attest to the benefit of keeping themselves up-do-date on the latest goings-on in their respective industries.
McCarrick said that she tries to read as many insurance publications as she can to keep up on the macro-economic trends impacting financial lines.
Schaffer, likewise, likes to read the news and share articles with her internal team as well as her clients on insights that might be relevant to the art world.
“Staying active in a client’s industry is a team effort,” she explained. “We ask each other questions, and we share our information.”
“I had a mentor tell me once, ‘Don’t tell your client you’re in the insurance industry, tell them you’re in their industry,’ ” Wilson said of his approach.
With that in mind, Wilson has made it a mission to join the associations that his clients are in, alongside getting active in those organizations.
“We keep current of the lobbyists who are trying to improve statutes for the industries our clients work in. We try to stay in front of legislation that could impact them,” he said.
Combating a Rising Talent Gap
Staying ahead of emerging risks doesn’t stop with clients, however. With 84 Rising Stars this year, it’s hard to believe that the insurance industry is facing the risk of a talent shortage in the coming years.
Yet, this is the unfortunate truth.
The RIMS’ Risk Management Talent 2025 report released in September 2019 found that only 16% of respondents think there will be enough graduates to fill open positions in the risk and insurance space by 2025. Couple this with the vast majority of baby boomers retiring in the next five to ten years — it’s a recipe for a huge workforce shortage.
Or, perhaps, a recipe for success.
“Between the current group of leadership in brokerages, agencies and even the carrier space, there is a huge gap in age. And that’s ripe with so much opportunity for young people to come in,” Wilson explained. “There’s a need for young folks in, arguably, every silo of the industry.”
Wilson’s connection to insurance is in his blood, having been born into a family that operates its own smaller insurance firm. Although he has since moved on from that firm, the advantage of seeing the industry from the inside at such a young age enabled him to recognize the opportunity awaiting a young professional looking to make a place for themselves.
And getting students interested in insurance starts with awareness.
“I love my job and am excited to come in every day,” said Wilson. Young insurance professionals, he said, need to get involved early. “A lot of those who are successful worked under the guidance of someone else.”
This is why Wilson makes a concerted effort to mentor a risk management and insurance student each semester at the University of Georgia. He makes himself available for speaking as well as mentoring and talking to individual students pursuing a risk management and insurance degree.
“We have to be the ambassadors for our industry, because a lot of young folks don’t understand what we do. Insurance isn’t going away, so it’s crucial for us to help others understand what we do.”
McCarrick echoed Wilson. “Creating mentor groups and seeing organizations help people thrive is an encouraging sight,” she said.
Schaffer has also spoken during lectures at colleges, particularly with art history and studio students, as well as those in the business track.
Part of why Schaffer loves what she does is that it keeps her in tune with the art world. Formerly an art history/studio major herself, insurance has enabled her to advance her career while keeping her involved in the industry she loves.
“I get to meet fascinating people in the field. I’ve met major living artists and talked about how to protect their life’s work. I’ve seen their art studios and galleries and the projects they’re working on, and I get to help make them come to life.”
That is the best part of insurance for her; being able to take her passion and make it a reality. She believes that is what young professionals need to know: “It’s important for us already in the industry to educate students on their potential career path. Especially students who aren’t an obvious ‘choice’ for the industry, like art majors.” &
Rising Stars are winners and finalists in Risk & Insurance®’s Power Broker® award competition, all of whom were under the age of 40 as of the Power Broker® publication date of Feb. 24. Since the launch of this designation in 2014, more than 450 brokers have been so recognized.
Risk & Insurance® celebrates these Rising Stars, as sponsored by The Hartford, for their achievements and for their emerging role as leaders of the commercial insurance industry. The recognition honors their creativity, exceptional customer service and industry knowledge in finding solutions for their clients.
To view the full list of 2020 Power Broker Rising Stars, visit here.