"We're in an unraveling cycle in the economy and industry"

Amwins executive on a risk he took that the industry quickly followed

"We're in an unraveling cycle in the economy and industry"

Insurance News


The insurance world has been a mix of chance, faith, and a pinch of magic for Brian “BV” Vassallo (pictured), Senior Vice President, Amwins Brokerage.

Despite initial reservations in 2004, he took a “leap of faith” and ventured into the world of wholesale brokerage. Looking back, he said: “It turned out to be one of the greatest decisions I ever made in my life.”

And part of what has made it such a good decision was the creation of the DLAC team. At the time the four friends and future partners combined their books, the industry was sceptical about the approach. But if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the Amwins team ought to feel very flattered. And what was controversial in 2013 is now replicated across the sector.

“There’s a lot of trust when four individual brokers come together and combine their books,” he said. “Trust has been the key to our success.”

BV emphasized that while many doubted their partnership’s longevity, believing it would “end in a divorce”, the reality has been entirely different.

“The partnership is stronger than ever. The book has been growing rapidly every year and our clients are reaping the benefits of our success,” he said.

Relationships are vital

The insurance business is often said to be all about relationships – and for BV that shouldn’t just describe the relationship between wholesalers with their retailers and underwriters. It extends internally as well.

“It’s also a relationship business with our coworkers and partners,” he said. “You’ve got to work on that, just like a marriage. It takes work to be able to communicate with each other, to trust each other. You deeply start to care for each other, your families, your kids, everything – and it becomes a family unto itself.”

This, as BV explained, is really where the balance comes in. Something which is easier said than done.

“We’re all individuals and we all have our individual personalities,” he said. “And you don’t want to squash that at all.”

While the essence of teamwork requires flexibility and compromise, Vassallo believes in preserving one’s individual identity.

“You have to be able to compromise,” he said. “And at the same time have your own identity as well.”

And despite being spread across three different territories in the US, the DLAC team makes it a point to meet frequently.

“We travel together, we see each other all the time,” he explained. “Zoom and Teams makes it a lot easier to see each other. Technology has come a long way.”

What happens next in the insurance market?

Looking ahead to the future, while the market has been hardening for some time now, BV remains very optimistic about the direction they’re heading in.

“Growth is always the goal and Amwins has given us an amazing platform to do that,” he noted. “When I first got into the industry, everybody talked about ‘The Dumbbell Theory’.”

BV describes a glaring age gap in the industry during those days: a lot of veterans on one side, a void in the middle, and then newcomers on the other end. However, that gap seems to have lessened over time. But it’s not just the demographics of the industry that have shifted. Vassallo feels the market, too, has transformed.

“I believe we’re in an unraveling cycle in the economy and industry,” he said. “With the market hardening, market dynamics have shifted.” And for BV, he believes a more pragmatic approach has emerged as the need of the hour. Capacity is tight, carrier risk profiles are changing.

“Delivering ‘hard facts’ is the key and telling people exactly what’s happening even when it may not be what they want to hear is more important than ever,” he said. “I believe clients appreciate a no-nonsense, hard fact, honest approach to brokerage and we are delivering on that.”

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