Rising Star Rudy Milfort Shares What Excites Him About Being a Commercial Insurance Broker
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 now and continuing into 2022.
We sat down with Rudy Milfort, senior vice president at EPIC Insurance Brokers, and a 2021 At Large Power Broker finalist and Rising Star.
Risk & Insurance: Talk a bit about your journey within the insurance industry.
Rudy Milfort: It’s definitely not considered the most conventional journey into the industry as many other industry colleagues can agree. When I was five years old playing in the sandbox, I didn’t say, “I want to work in insurance.”
When I was in high school, I went to a technical and vocational school, and I was actually headed towards a career in the pharmaceutical industry. I was hellbent on becoming a doctor, and that was my mom’s dream for me. Once I really sat down and looked at it, I realized it may not be for me.
That was a definite watershed moment for me, because I really thought, “Do I actually have a real interest to devote my life to this?” I reversed course at that point and thought that maybe I didn’t want to be a doctor.
I always had an affinity for business and management, so I decided to change course and go towards business. I went to Hofstra University and majored in finance and marketing, and during that time, I worked in the finance industry. I was pretty sure that I would remain in the finance industry when it was time to graduate, but that’s when I had another career pivot.
I was approached by AIG to join its claims management training program right around the time I was graduating, and I thought it was a great opportunity for me to be exposed to such a large organization. At the time, AIG was number 8 on the Fortune 500 and obviously great name recognition, so my strategy was to work for the organization and put in work on the claims management side with plans to transfer into the finance division.
I ended up actually enjoying what I was doing, and I’ve been in insurance ever since.
R&I: What has been your proudest moment in your career thus far?
RM: I’m very big on client service, so when I’m able to deliver for the client and deliver for my organization I feel like that level of fulfillment is why I’m doing this work.
I think every aspect of my career, from working in retail to banking to what I’m doing now, it’s all about the service aspect of it.
The proudest moments for me are wrapped in the delivery of it, to feel like you’re contributing to your organization in meaningful ways. You’re also servicing your clients, because in brokerage, without the client, we don’t really exist. The clients are right at the forefront of what we’re doing.
R&I: What about the work excites you?
RM: What excites me is the abundance of challenges. It’s interesting, because the hardening of the market started right around 2018, and I’ve been a part of the soft market, the hardening market and now part of the hard market.
It’s been really challenging. Everyone in the brokerage community was kind of patting themselves on the back when we were delivering results in a soft market. When things started to get a little difficult, more experienced colleagues were telling me that they hadn’t seen a market environment like this since like the ‘80s.
There are a lot of difficult conversations to have with clients. Preparedness, strategy and communication are really key. I personally feel that the dynamics of the industry itself, and with the COVID overlay, made it important to be thinking about what’s the next thing to introduce to the client to make them aware.
Part of our job is not just delivering the service and working on deals, but also being the eyes and ears for the client and letting them know the risks they should put on their radar.
Being a broker across a number of sectors is giving me a great opportunity to be exposed to other product lines aside from my normal discipline, which is property and casualty. It’s expanded my knowledge base, and I’m constantly excited about risk management at this point. I welcome the challenges when they’re introduced.
R&I: What does it take to be a successful broker in the insurance industry?
RM: I think there are several components.
First, you want to have a purpose in mind. My purpose has always been client service, and that’s motivated me. Servicing my clients is the number one priority for me as well as giving back to EPIC. I just can’t say enough good things about them and the investment that they’ve made in my development, so the least I can do is give them back what they’ve put into me.
Competitiveness also makes a successful broker. I view this [job] as a challenge every single day, so what motivates me is waking up and trying to find solutions. That’s what our objective is: To find solutions for our clients and to put them in the best possible situations.
There are always things that we need to consider, even emerging risks that clients may not be necessarily thinking about. Those are the things that keep me going every single day.
R&I: What advice would you give a young professional who is interested in a career in insurance?
RM: I would absolutely say to keep an open mind. When I look at my own journey, this isn’t something that I pursued, and I felt like insurance and risk management at the time was more of a temporary opportunity.
It’s important for the younger, new generation coming in to keep an open mind to the possibilities and the benefits of this industry.
I know that as several risk management programs within universities continue to evolve, we’re going to see that the industry is worth pursuing. &