Why finding a good mentor is key for insurance brokers

Why finding a good mentor is key for insurance brokers | Insurance Business

Why finding a good mentor is key for insurance brokers
While many insurance professionals start their careers with a sudden interest or an epiphany, it was love at first sight for 32-year-old Derek Crumpler, managing director of Burns & Wilcox’s Denver office.

Crumpler is one of those who started their insurance journey right after finishing university. After graduating with a degree in Applied Economics at the East California University, he immediately jumped aboard one of the country’s largest wholesale broker and underwriting managers, Burns & Wilcox. In less than a year, he was promoted to become a commercial lines associate underwriter in the Greater New Orleans Area.

Even at a young age, Crumpler rose to the challenge and quickly became the managing director of the Greater Denver Area office of Burns & Wilcox. For him, the secret to succeeding in such a competitive space is continual learning and making sure that the wisdom one acquires is imparted to the next generation of insurance professionals.
Check out this Q&A with Crumpler, where he gives his thoughts about the most pressing issues challenging the insurance space today. He also shares his involvement with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Colorado and several other volunteer organizations.

Tell us how you got into the insurance industry, what led you to this career?

Right before graduation from East Carolina University, a friend of mine was just finishing his internship with Burns & Wilcox, and he introduced me to the company. Once I started an internship in North Carolina, I saw a side of insurance that I really enjoyed and never knew existed. In the eight years that have followed, through hard work and loyalty, I have gained experience working in multiple Burns & Wilcox offices, including in North Carolina, in New Orleans, and in the Denver office.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your work in the insurance space?

Wholesale insurance presents a challenge and a level of competition that are rarely matched. I thrive on finding solutions to the most difficult risks and thinking outside the box. In my position, you never know what is going to come in on a daily basis, and that excites me.

Tell us about your company and its role in the insurance industry. What makes it different from other companies in the same space?

As the leading wholesale insurance broker and underwriting manager, what stands out most to me about our firm is its private ownership and unique focus on people. I have never seen a company more committed to continuing education overall than within Burns & Wilcox.

One of the internal initiatives is called the Kaufman Emerging Leaders Program (KELP), of which I was an early graduate. The program is designed specifically for young insurance professionals with leadership potential. Additionally, I was fortunate to be a part of the Kaufman Advanced Management Program (KAMP), a prestigious 18-month program designed for distinguished leaders to grow their managerial skills. Now, I serve as a mentor and coach for current KELP and KAMP program participants.

What do you think are the most challenging issues facing the insurance industry today?

At this very moment, the most challenging issue facing the industry is on the cusp of changing – a hardening market. As the market firms and rates increase, this will create a number of issues for younger professionals who have only worked in a soft market. While there are individuals that have made a reputation for years to sell on price alone, there will be now be a greater focus on expertise as we move into 2018.

What are your hopes for the insurance industry moving forward?

It is my hope that we, as an industry, will continue to innovate and bring in young talent with innovative ideas into the industry. Fresh talent gives the industry a great chance to create change, as the majority of millennials have never lived without the use of the internet.

What advice can you share for those wanting to join the insurance industry?

For me, it is all about continual learning. Finding a good mentor is key, and I have been very fortunate to find great mentors when I have worked throughout different offices across the country at Burns & Wilcox. A second piece of advice I would give is to challenge the current way of thinking, respectfully. If you are a person that wants to see change in the industry, start with yourself. In other words, don’t just talk about it, do it.

If you were not working in the insurance space, what would you be doing now?

I love insurance and it is hard to imagine not working in this industry. However, after thinking about it, I could see myself having gone to law school to work as a professional sports agent. My passion for sports would have more than likely led me in that direction. Now that Burns & Wilcox has begun sponsoring PGA golfers Jimmy Walker and Webb Simpson, and the legendary Detroit Red Wings, my two passions have met in the middle.

What are your passions or hobbies outside insurance?

Outside of work, I am actively involved in Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Colorado to be a positive male role model to a younger generation of men. I currently mentor a little brother as part of the program. Additionally, I volunteer for Multiple Sclerosis events and charity fundraisers in the community. Furthermore, I am an avid athlete and I play in various recreational sports leagues. I also manage the Colorado Chapter of the Roaring Riot – the Carolina Panthers National Fan Club from my home state.


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