Issues & Answers Special Advertising Section:
 July 2022

Issues & Answers: Get With the Program

Rick Grimes, Financial Lines Practice leader and Managing Director, Professional Risk Solutions, a division of One80 Intermediaries, says the company is able to give its employees better options in terms of multiple career paths, which can lead to a more rewarding experience working for a firm that values specialty. “It allows them to focus on building a deeper base of knowledge and making them even more valuable and irreplaceable to our retail partners,” he said. Following are excerpts from an interview.

Rick Grimes
Financial Lines Practice Leader and Managing Director
Professional Risk Solutions, a division of One80 Intermediaries

“In looking at today's environment, it's about investing the upfront time and energy on those classes of business that may be understood and hard to place and addressing the concerns a carrier may have.”

Why are specialized solutions important in today’s program market?

In today’s highly competitive insurance environment, our clients demand deeper knowledge of products to ensure that proper coverage, along with broadest terms and conditions, are applied. With constant new entrants and changing appetites in the marketplace, agents prefer specialization as opposed to a jack-of-all-trades approach to make sure they’re getting the best for their client. What’s more, they help our retail partners differentiate themselves from their competition by enabling them to provide unique solutions and increase branding opportunities, which would lead to traditionally higher retention ratios for those types of accounts. The third point I’d like to make is many agencies we work with simply don’t have the scale or the financial resources to hire multiple specialists, so we act as their outsourced center of expertise.

How is One80 working to meet the needs of your broker partners?

We listen to our broker partners. I learned this at an early stage in my career as an underwriter. We would have dog-and-pony shows with all departments pitching their capabilities to an agency in a conference room. Eventually, the agents’ eyes would glaze over due to information overload. I found the more fruitful conversations were the ones in which a good deal of pre-work was done prior to the meeting so we could learn about their strengths, weaknesses, and what kept them up at night. Any information that I couldn’t learn about my client on my own was the basis for a conversation where I would ask questions to see where they may struggle competing and their areas of strength. These conversations were much more engaging and helped us align our strengths with their weaknesses to help them compete and retain clients.

Why is culture so important in building and maintaining partnerships?

One of the things that made a lasting impression on the partners at Professional Risk Solutions was when we were talking to One80 about selling. They emphasize putting employees first. They went on to explain that employees are the most valuable assets of a firm. If employees aren’t being valued and treated fairly, how can they expect them to go the extra mile for clients? That exchange resonated with all of us, because as a small, boutique, independent wholesaler, we had the same philosophy. Our brand was our employees. They’re the only ones providing solutions to our clients every day, whether it was our brokers placing coverage, our technical support staff shepherding the workflow process or accounting and compliance departments tying up the back-end details correctly. All of these roles play a critical part of the success of an agency. In our shop, the entire team was a valuable part of the equation, and we wanted to make sure that type of culture was celebrated and continued going forward.