Creating an entrepreneurial culture is an important advantage for any business striving to succeed in today’s ultra-competitive landscape. For an insurance broker particularly, working at a nimble, ambitious firm is often the driver that enables them to achieve their full potential.
A big part of creating an organizational culture of success is fostering an environment where brokers can empower themselves to think (and act) like entrepreneurs as they carry out their day-to-day activities.
Brett Klymochko, Partner, Senior Advisor, Navacord, says that an entrepreneurial culture matters in today’s business landscape because it enables brokers to adapt in turbulent conditions.
Navacord is an example of an organization that cultivates a highly entrepreneurial culture. Initiated by independent insurance brokers, the firm is committed to being majority employee-owned, and preserving each broker partner’s unique local identity and culture is at the heart of the Navacord’s philosophy. It allows its broker partners to retain ownership and control over operations and, at the same time, contribute to and leverage its success.
Klymochko says that the entrepreneurial culture was one of the main things that attracted him to the organization.
“It was trying to get back to the entrepreneurial spirit of building a company, being part of building a company, rather than just being a number at a company that has thousands of employees,” he says. “Being able to lead the growth of the company is a huge thing.”
Meanwhile, Aaron Hinks, Account Executive, Navacord, says that he left his prior shop because he wanted more control over how he operated and serviced his clients.
“Navacord is very much hands off unless, of course, we need help from management, that’s when they get involved, but they let me do my day-to-day without any hassle,” Hinks says. “You’re growing your own business; you’re not looked at as an employee per se; you’re growing your own practice and your standard operating procedures the way you want.”
From an operational standpoint, Hinks says that Navacord provides excellent customer service. There’s a hierarchy of support staff, which include dedicated account managers and account assistants. Moreover, when called upon, the management can handle things on a diplomatic level.
“From time to time, when we have core exceptions or anything like that from the insurers, that’s when our management team gets involved, and they’re well renowned in the industry for face-to-face conversations with the insurers,” Hinks says.
For him, being part of Navacord has also meant enjoying an immediate respect and understanding from underwriters.
“I think the way the insurers look at you is a lot different when they say, ‘Oh, you’re from Navacord!’ Hinks says. “Since I’ve joined Navacord, every year, I’ve written at least in excess of a million dollars in premium.”
Meanwhile, for Klymochko, being part of Navacord gives him access to resources across every industry sector. Although he focuses primarily on the energy sector, he is able to leverage resources in other sectors such as management and liabilities.
“We have all the resources that a big multinational firm would have, but we have the ability to be more nimble than a company like that in order to use and effect change as we need to,” Klymochko says. “Being with Navacord is also resonating well with our clients.”
Navacord’s business model enables firms to remain competitive and diverse while focusing on growth and healthy profit production. Its broker partners maintain their regional focus – giving customers a local, boutique experience – yet still benefit from its large network.
“I think the business model is important because people still want to deal with the people who know their name – they want to deal with a local broker – but, obviously, in the market that we’re heading into, we need economies of scale as well,” Hinks says. “We need to be part of a larger organization but still have that hometown kind of feel.”
Hailey Taskey, Partner, Senior Advisor, Navacord, describes the ‘owners serving owners’ model, in which partners are made shareholders, as being a “big deal”. It’s not something that many companies offer to brokers and she believes there is a definite correlation with increased client satisfaction.
“It trickles down when you work with clients; they do feel like you have more of a buy in, a bigger commitment to the company,” Taskey says. “People move around a lot in the broker world and I think with the owner serving owner model there is a lot more security from the client’s perspective. Security makes them feel more comfortable and happier with their choice in brokerage. I have had clients say that knowing I am here to stay makes them feel comfortable.”
Given the changing nature of the insurance industry and the increased level of competitiveness, Taskey is certain that more brokers will be attracted the business model offered at companies like Navacord. Having the ability to operate relatively independently but with the backing of a national brand is an attractive recipe for most ambitious brokers.
“My goals are now across the organizations and people are not just focused on their personal goals. Everyone wants the best for the company, because, with this model, everyone succeeds when the business is doing well,” Taskey says.
“With all of the mergers and acquisitions in the industry, brokers are often moved into large groups where their names are taken away and they are blended in as another office of the same brand. We are lucky enough to still keep our own identity while having that strength behind us.”