Sharis began by explaining how many factors are driving growth across all different segments of the insurance business. Today there are a few key themes as the growth in the program space far exceeds that of the standard P&C market, the first being a noticeable increase in the number of MGAs and Program Administrators moving away from what was traditionally the accepted format of a single carrier subscription agreement on a program. As a result, she said, diversification occurs quite organically, and the channel partners sought after by program administrators tend to have more than one option.
“Tracy talked about it,” Marks said when asked about her perspective on the cast side. “We really see tons of opportunities in the distribution space and we’re really trying to strategically bundle them from the big wholesalers… MGAs and MGUs, you know, like a second bucket. The large distribution has affinity practices, associative groups. They also group business from their point of view. And then our reinsurance community has developed MGA and MGU practices where they bring these underwriting experts into the market and try to match them up with the capacity and carrier providers.
As the program market continues to grow and overcrowding becomes an issue, Sharis believes that much of what makes a great program administrator also makes them a great program runner. One of the biggest issues in the industry right now, she explained, is the use of technology, often commonly referred to as insurtech, to conduct business transactions. In her opinion, Sharis thinks that if a company isn’t focused on improving their technology, whether it’s an operator or a personal assistant, then they might be a little behind and have to fall back. focus on that today, with the fear that it will be left behind in such a competitive landscape.
“On our side, we’re getting closer and closer to straight-through processing and we’re getting to a point where business transactions are as smooth as possible. We like to partner with program administrators who also differentiate themselves in this way, and we try to get to a point where, again, there is as little friction as possible on the transaction-to-transaction phases, ”said Sharis. “Not only will this ultimately result in savings for everyone on the expense side, but more importantly it will result in better sightlines and more current sightlines and sightlines at day in the business. This is extremely important when considering which program managers we want to align with, as we are looking for partners focused on long-term growth and sustainable profitability. And without a line of sight to the business, both from the program administrator and the carrier side of the relationship, you won’t have a hugely successful recipe for long-term growth and profitability.
Strongly agree, Marks added that it goes beyond just having underwriting expertise or being a bit of that niche and aggregating a portfolio of activities – it becomes much more sophisticated. According to him, PAs and MGAs increasingly look like insurance companies without the risk on their balance sheets. As such, sophistication is really the factor that sets companies apart and influences market trends.
Retention and acquisition of talent is also of utmost importance during this somewhat turbulent period of pandemic-induced talent turnover rates coupled with concurrent industry growth. When asked about it, Sharis throws in his two cents.
“The first thing we ensure is that we have a clear, forward-looking strategy – and I think it’s very difficult for an industry to attract talent into an area that doesn’t have a clear strategy for the future.” said Sharis. “Our strategy for the future is actually based on four elements: the first is product selection; another is that technological empowerment we just talked about; strategic engagement is the third; and the fourth – and frankly, for my money, the most important – is our people, our talent, our people. Without our people our business does not function at all and without the right people it does not operate in a successful and profitable manner. We’ve been very lucky the last few months… as the group was formed as a program organization not only to retain talent, but to attract new talent. “
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