Rising Star Tony Katz Shares Why He’s Passionate About Brokering, His Biggest Win This Year and More
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.
R&I: What was your biggest win as a broker in the past year?
Tony Katz: We helped one of our large golf/hospitality clients win a piece of new business which is a well-known golf resort based in Central Florida.
This was an important win not only for our client, but also for Aon. A lot of very specific efforts went into that deal and probably four or five months of focused broking work.
R&I: What do you think the most pressing issue for your clients will be for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022?
TK: I will say a couple things. The cyber marketplace is incredibly challenging right now. From a couple different angles actually with what’s going on out in the world. Forget about insurance for a minute, but just consider the various forms of cyber attacks.
There’s naturally a lot of attention paid to, and work that goes into, the high profile breaches and ransomware events. What’s almost more concerning are the incidents occurring right now that no one is aware of.
Those incidents that might not be discovered for weeks or months will of course end up being much larger, more expensive matters than they otherwise could have been with proper incident detection and controls in place.
The other issue, which everyone is sort of experiencing is the cyber marketplace, which has been very challenging over the last 18-24 months.
Not only has pricing increased dramatically for many clients, but we’re seeing mandatory retention increases, more restrictive coverage and increased scrutiny on the underwriting process including requirements for certain cyber controls like multi-factor authentication. I suspect that sort of hard market trend will continue.
Frankly, I don’t know where it’s going to go. I think the path that [it] is on right now is not sustainable. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of clients start to consider various forms of self-insurance or even begin allocating capital they would normally spend on insurance premiums towards improved cyber hygiene and other critical controls.
I think the other challenge that’s pretty obvious is COVID and, for certain industries, return to work and how to go about that in the right way. We’ve all learned over the past year and a half that remote work is possible and, in many cases, more efficient.
How do we think about a hybrid work environment that makes sense for the majority of the workforce including new hires, colleagues just getting started in their careers and those that rely on relationship building.
R&I: How did you get your start as an insurance broker? When did you realize this career path was for you?
TK: I, like so many others in this industry, just kind of fell into it. I joined Aon directly from undergrad at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Aon was one of the companies that came to the business school for on-campus interviews.
I wasn’t a risk management major like some folks. I just kind of signed up for an interview because I knew Aon’s HQ was in downtown Chicago, then started going through the process and received an offer to join the Risk business as a relationship specialist.
Risk management is not something that I think a lot of people grow up saying they want to get into unless they have family or friends in the business. So, I think gradually over maybe four or five years, I started to teach myself, to train myself to become passionate about it.
The reason why I like it and why it’s interesting to me is I sort of treat myself like an extension of my client’s team or their outsourced risk manager. A lot of my clients don’t necessarily have a formal risk management department or even a risk manager, so that’s the role that I take on for them.
I just kind of immerse myself in their business, try and look at everything from their perspective and really get in there, get my hands dirty and think about some things that they’re not necessarily thinking about because they’re not focused on risk or insurance all day like me.
Learning my clients’ businesses, that’s what makes it interesting.
R&I: What about this work excites and challenges you?
TK: I like that my clients trust me and rely on me. I like learning about the business and industries that my clients are in. Technology is one, hospitality is another, real estate is another one. I have a number of private equity clients or family office clients as well.
Over the last year, it’s been fascinating to watch clients adapt to remote working if they have to, or adapt their physical locations if they have manufacturing operations. Watching them kind of adapt to that in the midst of COVID, that’s been really interesting to observe.
Everything’s constantly changing and that keeps me on my toes. Nothing’s ever going to be the same. Every day is a little bit different and that keeps me motivated.
R&I: Who has been a mentor to you in your career? What advice did they give that stuck with you?
TK: One person that’s been a great mentor is Jason Caya. He’s been at Aon for 21 years. He worked in Chicago when I started and then he moved to San Francisco and recruited me to join that office as an account executive.
He’s since moved into a leadership role in the Aon Los Angeles office and I’ve moved back to Chicago, but he’s someone I’ve been close with and keep in touch with since I started my career.
I’ve learned from so many colleagues and clients that there are a ton of opportunities in this industry, whether that be in different geographies or different niches within the industry. &