One of the most important responsibilities of any CFO is selecting the right partners to support the needs of a growing business. When it comes to insurance and employee benefits, the task is all the more critical because of the stakes in terms of cost, risk management and ability to attract and retain talent.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
So how do you evaluate a potential broker? It almost goes without saying that any potential partner must have the following core strengths:
• Reputation – A stellar, long-term reputation in your community and the industry, and a proven track record of success.
• Intellectual Capital – Experienced and seasoned colleagues who possess the technical insurance knowledge to help you navigate and mitigate both risk and legislative change.
• Industry Expertise – Depth of knowledge in your specific industry is key. Access to benchmarking data and a keen understanding of where the industry is headed are essential when evaluating your organization’s risk profile.
• Insurer Relationships – Strong and deep relationships with insurance companies to secure the best coverage at the best price. Firms with the capabilities listed above can help a CFO create a shortlist of possible partners. So what to look for next? The following checklist should help a CFO narrow down the field of potential brokers to one or two strategic partners who are as invested in your long-term success as you are.
• Transactional versus Consultative – Most brokers can place your coverage with an insurer. However, few have the ability to be an ongoing strategic partner. You want a broker that has the expertise to evolve with you and help you capitalize on opportunities as they arise.
• Risk and Loss Control Services – Insurance shouldn’t be a reactionary solution, but a proactive strategy. Look for a partner that can provide direction and guidance on how best to control your risks before claims occur.
• Claims Advocacy – When claims occur, you need a strong advocate who can work with insurance companies to settle your claims favorably. This is where the rubber meets the road. What is the value of insurance, if you can’t settle claims in a beneficial and expedient manner?
• Accessibility – Given the nature of risk, you often can’t predict when you’ll need the expertise of your insurance partner. As more providers deliver service online and through automated channels, having a team you can reach whenever you need them is an invaluable resource transactional convenience can’t replace.
• Local, yet global – A local broker understands the local market and the competitive landscape. But you may outgrow your local broker’s capabilities. Make sure your insurance team has the geographical reach and resources that can support your growth for the long term.
• Tools and resources – Today, elite brokers do more than just place insurance. They are developing platforms and solutions to make the process of managing benefits and insurance easier, as well as implementing new strategies to control cost and disrupt upward trends.
A broker that meets and exceeds all of these qualities will not only help manage your operational expenses, but also free up much needed capital to invest in new opportunities, safeguard your colleagues, and save valuable time and resources.
An exceptional broker can be a key strategic partner that creates new opportunities for your company to perform more efficiently now and grow well into the future.
Brian Hegarty is Director at Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC – Los Angeles.