Rising Star and Avid Outdoorsman Mike Summers Is Blazing a Trail in Private Client Property Coverage

Here's our conversation with 2023 Private Client Power Broker Mike Summers, who was recently hired as strategic account executive with HUBPrivate Client group.
By: | May 11, 2024


Come see the Stars! As part of our ongoing coverage of the best brokers in the commercial insurance space, Risk & Insurance®, with the sponsorship of Philadelphia Insurance, is expanding its coverage of the Rising Stars, those brokers who represent the next wave of insurance brokering talent.

Look for these expanded profiles on the Risk & Insurance website and in your social media feeds throughout the year.

Here’s our conversation with 2023 Private Client Power Broker Mike Summers, who was recently hired as strategic account executive with HUB Private Client group.

Risk & Insurance: You were recognized as a Power Broker for 2023 in the private client category, and not long after that a new opportunity came calling. Can you share what that was?

Mike Summers: HUB was building a relationship with a wealth-management firm, and they needed someone to run that relationship. I was very happy at Aon, and was not looking to make a move, at least not professionally. But I’ve always considered myself a mentor and educator, for other brokers as well as for clients, and the opportunity to work on that type of relationship was compelling. That, along with a greater focus on building workflows and training for newer associates.

HUB starts everyone as an associate before they move them up into management. They learn the ropes in sales and service. I was in underwriting for several years [and from that perspective] I did not see a lot of that in the industry. It goes back to workflow improvement and mentality. It means knowing the industry and getting to know clients.

R&I: Did the new job mean that you had to relocate?

MS: I moved to Denver to be outdoors prior to joining HUB. They allowed me to work remotely, and I continue to do so. I am an avid outdoorsman, so Denver was always on my list of places to settle down when I was ready to leave Chicago, which I did last year. The new position has proven to be an excellent fit both professionally and personally.

R&I: Please tell us more about your professional approach.

MS:  I’ve never considered myself a salesman. I’ve always considered myself a mentor and a team leader. That goes all the way back to my first job at McDonald’s in high school. There is a difference between being a manager and being a leader. I never want to manage people. I want to give them the tools and the guidance to manage themselves.

R&I: Did you have any mentors in your youth, or early in your career?

MS: I’m originally from Excelsior Springs, Missouri northeast of Kansas City. I was very into transportation when I was young. I had train sets and so many Hot Wheels cars. I would build towns with extra plywood that my father would bring home. I came from a working-class family, but I did not want to build houses like my father.

Instead, I wanted to go into business. In my sophomore year of high school, I took an accounting class and found that I had an aptitude for numbers. My first foray into business practice was at ADT. My mentor there was Jordan Heche. I got into the insurance business when I started in billing and processing at Farmers. My mentor there was Geri White who was my supervisor at the time. She instilled the importance of understanding what we are actually trying to do, building core knowledge of insurance. I worked in underwriting at Chubb for eight years, then started at Aon in 2019.

R&I: Having worked in several different aspects of the insurance sector, what do you believe is the main concern for the industry?

MS: We are losing a lot of knowledge to retirement every year, and the industry is not attracting enough talent, especially in the private client end, which is very different from general personal lines. My job takes three times as long to place the non-admitted parts. So having more talent to back-fill the retirements and creating additional roles to fill the need for the more complex roles is paramount.

R&I: Now that you are in the private client sector, how is it dealing with wealthy insured?

Image courtesy of Mike Summers

MS: When I first came in I did not know how working with very wealthy individuals would work. But I found that most clients just want to know you are helping them. When I deal directly with clients, rather than with a risk manager [for a family office, or foundation] I find that the clients are mostly down-to-earth.

Placement, however, can be complicated. There are enough markets, and there is plenty of capacity, but they want perfect risks: no claims, brand new roofs on the houses. That’s not realistic. Most clients at this level switch because they have had a bad experience with a previous claim. So the challenge is presenting the exposures and claims record to the market in a way that meets their risk appetite.

A common placement is a primary residence and a few cars, which can easily be handled by one insurer. For five houses and a $50-million umbrella, 95% of the time that can be placed with one carrier. The main four carriers we work with can do a $50-million umbrella. Some can go to $100 million. Above that we have to start building layers. But mostly my clients are business owners, not celebrities with more exotic exposures.

R&I: Speaking of exotic exposures, where are you favorite places to travel?

MS: [laughing] I don’t really like to travel. I’ve never left the U.S. As I mentioned, I like recreational sports, hiking and biking. I also play softball and flag football; darts and bowling when the weather is bad. I’m the outdoors person, and my husband is the homebody. He is an optician, and we have two Yorkshire terriers. &

Gregory DL Morris is an independent business journalist currently based in New York with 25 years’ experience in industry, energy, finance and transportation. He can be reached at [email protected].

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