David A. Jordan's professional career spans more than four decades, and he’s spent each and every one of those years in the insurance industry. At this point, you’d think the day he began working in insurance would be a distant memory, but that’s defi-nitely not the case.
“I always remember the date I started working in the industry. It was Monday, March 17, 1980,” Jordan says, adding that it helps that his first day as a management trainee for an AIG subsidiary called New Hampshire Insurance Company happened to fall on St. Patrick’s Day. Even now, he says, “that day has always stayed with me.”
Forty-one years later, Jordan has had only three employers. He was with AIG for 21 years in two different stints, including New Hampshire Insurance Company and Lexington Insurance Company, and then spent eight years at Atlantic Mutual Insur-ance Company. Afterwards, he worked for W.R. Berkley Corporation, stepping into the leadership role at Vela Insurance Services in 2009, before taking on his latest challenge as CEO of Breckenridge Group in 2019.
“I consider it a terrific way to build a career – to have had that kind of stability with employers, but also to have had the constant opportunity to upgrade my skills, take on new responsibilities and challenges, and have the chance to advance my career without having to go somewhere else to do that,” he says.
And while Jordan got his start in insur-ance on a whim – after answering an adver-tisement in the Sunday paper about a trainee program – he’s since developed a real passion for the industry.
“The ability of our industry to innovate and create new products and services to answer challenges that the economy pres-ents has been a fascinating one to participate in over all these years,” he says. “I constantly have the ability to learn new things, engage with the marketplace and solve problems for business owners around the country.”
“[I’m] a firm believer that all the technology in the world doesn’t replace the human interactions that a wholesale broker brings to the retail agent communities they serve and the carrier partners that are so integral to delivering those solutions” -David A. Jordan
Jordan’s time as president and CEO of Vela was critical to him landing his current position at Breckenridge. A casualty under-writing organization focused on the E&S lines industry, Vela distributed its products exclusively through wholesale brokers. One of the key lessons Jordan took away from his 10-year run at the company was that whole-sale brokers are some of the smartest, hardest-working people in the industry.
“I had dealings with wholesalers previ-ously, but this was an intense experience, and it really renewed and increased my apprecia-tion for them,” he says. “When the opportunity came up to join Breckenridge as the leader, to me, it just felt like a very natural evolution of my career.”
It was also an exciting time to move over to the distribution side of the business, as the commercial property & casualty marketplace was at the beginning of a transition. After some poor results, companies were rethinking their exposures, pricing and coverages.
“The timing was especially propitious for wholesale brokers,” Jordan says, “because they act as the safety valve between the retail agents, who are going to find themselves scrambling to identify solutions for their busi-ness owner customers, and then on the other side, the insurance carriers, who are trying to deliver more attractive results.”
“We have to compete based on expertise and relationships, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how our folks have responded to a rapidly changing marketplace”
The CEO job at Breckenridge put Jordan firmly in the gatekeeper role of satisfying the needs of retail agents while also ensuring that the company was doing a good job for its carrier partners.
Taking the wheel
Once Jordan was in the driver’s seat at Breck-enridge, things really got interesting. Between a hardening market and the global pandemic, there have been more than enough changes over the past two years to keep him busy, but Breckenridge’s teams have shown their true strength during this turbulent time.
“We’re a mid-size firm, so we have to compete based on expertise and relation-ships,” Jordan says, “and I couldn’t be more pleased with how our folks have responded to a rapidly changing marketplace.”
Since 2019, Breckenridge has added experts to its team around the country, which has helped its three practice areas (comprising several different businesses) enter new product lines and classes of business. The group has also invested in technology initia-tives to help make its business more efficient and its people more successful.
However, Jordan says the most exciting development has been Breckenridge’s ability to foster an atmosphere of collabora-tion between its various business units. “It’s been very gratifying to see the fruits of that effort, in terms of cross-marketing products and services, building new relationships, recruiting, and all kinds of investments that we’ve been able to make,” he says.
Over the past year, Breckenridge’s employee retention numbers have gone up, demonstrating that its employees feel valued and want to stay with the company to build their careers. Jordan says he’s particularly excited about this achievement because he’s “a firm believer that all the technology in the world doesn’t replace the human interactions that a wholesale broker brings to the retail agent communities that they serve and the carrier partners that are so integral to delivering those solutions.”
As Jordan looks out onto the future of the marketplace, he sees more challenges – but also more opportunities for Breckenridge to set itself apart from competitors and keep delivering critical solutions to retail agents and their insureds.
“The challenge for every intermediary – and we’re no exception – is to make sure that we are knowledgeable about what’s happening and that we are educating our customers so that they understand that the game is different today ... and then help them work with business owners in their commu-nities to get the appropriate coverages placed,” he says. “Our longstanding relation-ships in the marketplace enable us to nego-tiate on an equitable basis with carriers, so our responsibility is to strike the appropriate balance and do the best possible job for all the parties in the transaction.”