Rising Star Natalie Gomez Says That Aspiring Brokers Should Find the Right Mentor — and Not Be Afraid to Ask Questions
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 2023.
Here’s our conversation with Natalie Gomez, account executive at Marsh and a 2023 Health Care Power Broker winner.
Risk & Insurance: How did you get your start in commercial insurance brokering?
Natalie Gomez: I actually started as an executive assistant to the president of a very small insurance brokerage in Northbrook [Illinois]. And like many small brokerages, they were short-staffed, so I was asked to help with many things.
This is when I started getting exposed to what they actually did for their clients, and I appreciated and enjoyed the challenge. I really wanted to be part of a team, and that’s where I started to build a passion to do everything that I could for clients.
R&I: Where did you go to gain your footing as a broker?
NG: I got my license and then was promoted to an associate account manager at the same brokerage. Once I started working with other individuals [at the firm], handling different exposures, I was able to move around to other brokerages.
When those individuals left the company, knowing what I could bring to the table, they shared opportunities that allowed me to move as well.
R&I: What made you decide to specialize in senior residential and health care?
NG: When I was at Willis Towers Watson, our team handled multiple types of clients, not just senior care. But over time, with more than half of our book in senior living, we saw an opportunity to specialize and become a “center of excellence” for senior living.
With all non-senior living accounts given to other teams, this opened space for our team to take on more senior living accounts.
My mentors, John Atkinson and Mike Pokora, whom I have been able to continue working with at Marsh, are the best in this industry — they know their stuff. They’re very passionate when it comes to their clients, and they set the bar high for all of us. I want to continue learning from them.
We’ve really become like family with our clients as well.
R&I: Your clients have expressed how much they appreciate the way you immerse yourself in their businesses — your level of knowledge about their risks. Why is it important to you to take deep dives into your clients’ work?
NG: From my perspective, if you don’t take a deep dive into a client’s work, then how are you able to really help them and service them appropriately?
As a broker, you have the best of all worlds: You’re working with other brokers, you’re working with other insurers, you’re working with clients, you’re working with lenders. So you’ve got to make sure that you actually understand your clients’ needs in order to have productive conversations.
Understanding their risk also allows us to holistically look at everything. Oftentimes, we’re not the broker who handles every line of business for our clients; we only handle a few lines of business, and then there could be another broker.
So, you’re always on your toes to make sure that you’re doing your absolute best. In this industry, it’s all about reputation. Ultimately, it’s about your work product and the different spice you bring to your service to be able to retain your clients.
R&I: So far this year, what are the most pressing issues that your clients in senior housing have been reaching out to you to help them resolve?
NG: The issues that I face are more from a servicing perspective. It’s the transactions, so timing is everything. The minute that we’re notified of a transaction, we need to be able to get it out into the market or reach out to our markets to obtain pricing and get all the certificates. There’s a whole package that goes along with that.
In this market, due to the interest rates, closings are just getting pushed out, and we’re spending a lot more time on these transactions than we typically would have in the past, because it’s just the numbers are not what they want it to be to be able to then go ahead and sell the asset, or even purchase the asset.
So the issues that I face are mainly making sure that we are on top of our timelines for getting the lenders what they need in a timely manner, addressing any questions that they have so that the clients can continue doing what they’re doing. We’re taking this completely off their plate so that they don’t have to focus on it, and just know when it’s done.
R&I: What advice would you give to another person who might work adjacent to brokers, as you did when you started out in the industry, and wants to develop their career in the brokerage field?
NG: Know that there is no dumb question. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you may have.
Also, manage expectations. Don’t go in thinking that this is going to be the rest of your life. Those of us who have been in this industry for over 15 years are still learning new things, because this market is always changing. Both our clients and their exposures are changing as well.
Don’t be afraid to find the right person who can be your mentor. We’re all very busy, but there’s always one or two people who you can reach out to to give you the right advice or guide you to the next step, or even take you under their wing and build you to be like them, if not better. &