November 11, 2022

Bill Pieroni

Broker Buddha CEO Jason Keck is joined by Bill Pieroni, President & CEO of ACORD. In this episode, Bill talks about how ACORD, after 50 years, is more relevant than ever in the Insurance industry.

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Broker Buddha CEO Jason Keck is joined by Bill Pieroni, President & CEO of ACORD.  Listen to both CEOs talk about InsureTech and culture.

You can also hear the interview on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other podcasting applications.

Find more about Bill Pieroni

Jason Keck: I just wrapped up another really fun conversation with Bill Pieroni. Bill is the CEO of ACORD. This is the company that makes ACORD Forms but also does a lot more. They're essentially the data model for the insurance industry, and Bill is the second guest in a row who talked about culture as a critical part of the company and the organization, and part of what makes them enlightened.

If you're interested in any of that, have a listen. Here it is.

Hi, and welcome to another episode of The Enlightened Agent - a podcast that brings you conversations with top insurance professionals and industry leaders. My name is Jason Keck, and I'm joined today by Bill Pieroni, CEO of ACORD. Bill, welcome to The Enlightened.

Bill Pieroni: Jason, thank you for hosting me today, and thank you for the podcast.

JK: My pleasure. To kick things off. Bill, I mentioned earlier, I've been following you and ACORD since I entered the industry a little over four years ago now, but our listeners may not know you and who you are. So, if you wouldn't mind, could you let everybody know who Bill Pieroni is, and what do you do today?

BP: Sure. Thanks, Jason. I'm Bill Pieroni, president and CEO of ACORD. I've been here five years. ACORD is celebrating its 50th anniversary. What struck me this year is that, in its 50th year, I think ACORD is more relevant than it's ever been. It's a unique situation to be in that organizations increase in relevance over time, but it's my pleasure to join ACORD and to become the CEO. 

Prior to this, I was the chief operating officer at Marsh. I had senior operating roles at State Farm, partner at Accenture, head of insurance at IBM, and a 30-year career in insurance. 

I can honestly tell you, Jason, I did not mean to pick insurance, but I feel very fortunate to have come into the insurance industry. I've never worked in any other industry. Again, I didn't mean it. I'm a bit envious of people who knew they wanted to be in the insurance industry and started early. They tend to be actuarial students and things like that or people who have family members in the insurance industry.

I did not mean to do it, but I feel incredibly fortunate and privileged to serve our industry. And in particular, the agents who this podcast is directed toward. 

JK: I feel the same way. I stumbled into the industry. Never expected to be here, but I feel very fortunate to be here as well. I think people who land here realize it's a fascinating place; interesting problems to solve, real true value for the people you're serving, and a thriving, thriving ecosystem, right? Insurance is a trillion-dollar industry in the US, and there's a lot of opportunities here. 

You mentioned a little bit of your history, your professional history. You were the global COO of one of the largest agencies in the world, right? So, I'm curious why you left Marsh five years ago to become the CEO of ACORD. What was the inspiration?

BP: I had been involved with ACORD for decades, and the previous CEO, Greg Maciag, was really a statesman in the industry and did tremendous things on behalf of and for the industry. He was working beyond what he would like to have worked. 

He was saying he wanted to give the role up. And I said, can you last a little longer? He says, Billy, I’ve got to spend time with my family and my grandchildren. And so I said, okay, fine. 

I would've liked a bit more time in the industry and particularly at Marsh, which is a great organization, but it was really a matter of opportunity.

Greg was one of only a handful of CEOs that ACORD has had since it started. These roles don't come up very often. If I didn't accept the role then, I might've missed it. They tend to be long-tenured because it's a very important role and one where you can have a great deal of impact and relevance for the industry on a global basis.

That's what drew me to it. And it really was, again, I don't want to sound like I'm waiting for luck to occur because we in the insurance industry don't like luck and don't like risk. But I was fortunate that the timing worked out. 

JK: I mean, Marsh has a global reach but a limited client base, right? Obviously, Marsh has competitors, and you can't have every client out there. I've got to imagine ACORD touches almost every insurance opportunity or project in some way.

BP: Yeah, Jason, the scale of ACORD: 36,000 members across a hundred countries, 1200 standardized transaction types, 90% of the world's addressable market for what we do. They tend to be domestic business that occurs in other countries where there are localized standards. There might be a personal lines business in one country where there's an association that’s been in existence for a similar timeframe to ACORD. But by and large, for the vast majority of premiums and the PNC in Lifespace, it's ACORD standards and annually, over a quarter of a billion transactions are supported and enabled by thousands of core policy admin systems. It's a great privilege to have that scale and scope. 

JK: I love that you know where the missing 10% is. That's pretty interesting. 

BP: Oh, I know exactly what countries they are. I know, Jason, I know. By the way, I know where they're at. I know who's doing it. But you know, they're having an impact, and they're making a difference, and they're very localized and customized, and that's okay. I visit them every once in a while. Are they tired? Do they want to just give up? So I know who they are: who the organizations are and many of the leaders. 

JK: Good. You mentioned early on that you came into the company and, 50 years in, it's becoming more relevant. It’s curious if you could expand on that a little bit because the ACORD brand's been around for a while. People expect, people want it to be better, and clearly, it sounds like it is getting better. Tell us more. 

BP: So, you know, I'm a student of the industry. I love the insurance industry; I love the history of how we started, literally thousands of years ago, and the concept of bottomry, which is insuring sea-going vessels prior to Roman times as an industry.

But ACORD started 50 years ago, and the challenge was every individual carrier had the equivalent of a desktop sitting on an agent's desk for their apply quote bind-type of technology. So, you can imagine “dumb terminals,” and they really were running out of real estate on the desktop of an agent.

And the idea behind [ACORD] was to support the independent agents by developing a consistent set of standards to help with that apply quote bind process and then post-bind servicing. And, it was a number of very large, independent agency care-based carriers who came together to form that. 

Then since that time, adding more detailed data standards. I believe the last time I looked, we had 400,000 defined data elements around insurance companies. Everything you can imagine has been defined and has labels and specifications and standards and dictionaries around it. 

Technology's impact on the industry and the opportunity for leverage has grown steadily. When you look at some of the newer technologies: mobile, internet - even distributed ledger technologies - and the Application Program Interfaces (from what started as SOAP to RESTful APIs today), increasingly, the insurance industry has a number of stakeholders. 

There are carriers, primary and reinsurers and brokers and agents, regulators, vendors, and all the rest. Increasingly, they understand the value of technology, but they also understand the fact that it's much better to compete based on relationships. Brand, balance sheet, experience: all of these capabilities. Not on the uniqueness of the data standard that you're using within your application or how you communicate to other stakeholders. 

And I think understanding the fundamental basis, regardless of who you are as a stakeholder - even if you're a software vendor. Let it not be by your logical and physical data model, but let it be by the features and functionality, the service levels, or the solutions that you're providing the brokers and agents and carriers and reinsurers and all the other stakeholders.

Now I think it's got to the point where the industry understands the future inevitability of technology and what it can do. We do an annual digital study where we rank carriers from digital laggards of digital competitors. And increasingly, we're finding much fewer laggards behind because either they're being bought or they're being deselected from the gene pool, they're investing in technology.

And there's - I've seen in the last five years - much stronger pull-demand for the solutions and the members. For an organization as old as we are, since coming to ACORD five years ago, we've added thousands of new members. And not just because they're new startups, but many of these organizations some of them were centuries old: we really looked at some of the London-based carriers. But we're continuing to grow thousands of members annually. 

JK: That’s incredible.

BP: That helps me and encourages all of us at ACORD to understand that, again, it's increasing levels of relevance. They're not struggling for membership. We're literally adding thousands a year.

JK: I love what you said about differentiating your services, not to the data model, but through your offering. And you know, we talk about that in our space where we want agents to stop doing the repetitive tasks and start being more advisory. In a similar way, we don't necessarily want to think about the data model. If there's a standard for that, then let's use the standard, and let's build features and functionality around that. When I first came into the space, people talked about ACORD Forms. As you know, that's what people think about often because that's what they use. But the magic of ACORD is really in the data model. That became really clear to me. 

I noticed that you guys recently launched ADEPT, and I'd be really interested to know what you guys are doing with that to help companies exchange data using your standard. I want to learn more. 

BP: Sure. One of the things that struck me, having run fairly large services and software and technology companies that serve the industry, in addition to being part of large primary carriers and brokers, was the fact that many of the challenges the insurance industry faced - the invisible hand of capital markets, Adam Smith's invisible hand - helped to create a number of solutions for our industry. 

We have great vendors out there that serve this industry, and you have a hundred percent penetration of every vendor, every major vendor serving this industry, so they're wonderful. But there were some areas within the ecosystem where the vendor ecosystem was having some challenges leveraging, using, deploying the ACORD standards. In coming to ACORD, we started the ACORD Solution Group with the intent of lowering the cost, risk, and time of using our standards and deploying them.

The intent was to be a vendor’s vendor. Because it can be expensive for a vendor to be current with an individual form, data standard, transaction type, process, or product innovation and change: it can be expensive. So we developed a number of technologies to serve the vendors who serve our industry. To complement and extend their value proposition. So again, as we stated earlier in the call, they could actually increase their value add. The ADEPT solution - there are a number of solutions, and for those interested in them, please go to - you can see the solutions there. But that’s the one I'm most excited about; I'm glad you picked up on ADEPT. There's a handful of other solutions that we built. 

But I'm embarrassed to tell you I dropped my career. I'd probably served every major primary carrier around the world. I mean, organizations. So I've seen them and certainly been a part of some of the largest-

JK: That’s not embarrassing.

BP: No, but I didn't mean to do it. My role at IBM had a 30% market share; you wind up visiting a great number of these carriers over your time there. In Accenture as well, and McKinsey, where I worked, we used to have a lot of these carriers. They are very good at using technology within their four walls, right. They're world-class at it - they get it. Brokers. Brokers do a very good job, right, at using technology. Yes, there's a continuum - there are some that may be laggards, but the technology is there, and the standards are there to help with the application, with the endorsements, with the billing, with all of the accounting: ACORD has all of those standards.

JK: Right. 

BP: What was interesting - and there were vendors that serve those nodes. Where there was some lacking was, if a vendor serving the broker needed to interact with a vendor serving a primary carrier, and they needed to interact with a reinsurance carrier, that interaction between those vendors to help identify and resolve issues - despite the fact that they were built on ACORD standards - they didn't talk to each other in a consistent way.

Yes, for an application for a policy, of course - the apply quote bind. But I'm talking about pre and post-buying challenges. Let me give you an example. Within the industry, for some large accounts, you don't really know what that binder is going to be. For the non-technical, you don't know what the bill's going to ultimately be for a policy until you get there.

Trying to understand why the carrier thought the premium level was X and the broker agent thought it was Y - resolving that could take months. Why? It's less about the technology; more about the process. Did they use email? Did they only find out when a customer or an insured received a notice from a primary carrier saying we're not renewing you for non-payment? Or, hey, you paid too much. And then the email, phone calls, face to face visits. I mean, if you've seen one broker, you've seen one - or agent - we're all unique, right? 

We do everything at the behest of our members asking for help to solve this. This is us.

We serve the members. We're very lucky to have some outspoken members saying, 'You gonna solve this problem, right?' This is a customer service issue. It's a cost issue. It's an effectiveness issue around these binders. 

So ADEPT, simply - and I don't want to trivialize the IT team who built this on our part, because it was complex, and it's a significant piece of technology - but what it essentially does is say, if you're a stakeholder, you have a node, it's your data. I don't have it. It's your node; leave it. So ACORD doesn't have it. Your counterparty has a node with data. ADEPT, as a platform, takes the ACORD standard information, compares it, real-time, identifies where the discrepancy is and will do a number of things automatically.

It will kick off emails if that's how you want to solve it; it'll go to robotic process automation if you want to do that; it'll actually make an adjustment to a ledger if you want it to do that. Or you can do it, and send it to us. What would have taken months is literally solved near real-time - before an issue has been even identified as being out of sync for a binder or an endorsement processing. It's proactively solving that. 

JK: So it's conflict resolution.

BP: Yeah, and that's just one example. We are now at a number of very large brokers and carriers using the technology for billing certificate management, endorsement processing. Heretofore, there was no vendor saying, how does this talk to that? 

More importantly, we're owned by the industry, so I don't have the data. I don't have access to the data. We set up the infrastructure for you to host your rows. For the non-technical folks, they have a key. We don't have a key; it's yours, but what we do have is the algorithm and the data standards that help to make that comparison.

Then immediately, say there's an issue. Here's where we think the issue is. But again, with talk, operational effectiveness, but most importantly, customer satisfaction and going back to your earlier point, a focus on solving client issues, not doing this. 

JK: Preventing client issues, right? Because (things) like this are going to prevent them from happening.

BP: Yeah, before they manifest themselves. I mean, curing a problem before you know it's a problem is the best physician you can imagine. Not one that brings you back from near death. Never having the issue and resolving it. So that's what ADEPT does. I droned on about it, but I'm very passionate and excited about it. 

I can honestly tell you, Jason, I never knew what all of those professionals were doing at carriers and at brokers. Only now can I say that's what they were doing. They were helping to look at those issues and resolve them. 

You can have new technology and old process. 

You can have new technology, new strategy and old process. 

You can have a new strategy, new process, new technology. 

What we're trying to do is look back to having some foot into the past. We understand you've got the process you have. I got it. But can we make it near-instantaneous? Maybe I can't resolve the issue of a binder not matching the bill exactly. But I can tell you that it doesn't match in real-time - at the moment of value. And the moment of value is as soon as those things are posted: they don't match right then. It doesn't get any better over time. 

JK: You said the words node in key. Is this a distributed ledger blockchain technology, or is it inspired by-?

BP: By the way, I've been working with insurance and technology for 30 years. I've seen everything from thin clients to client-server to large mainframes and cloud computing. I've seen it all. 

It is based on a distributed ledger. However, to be very candid with you, it would work on a relational database as well. I like to think this is one of the very select number of use cases where the distributed ledger actually does make sense. And when you look at use cases around the world for distributed ledger, there are two primary examples, and ACORD is involved in both of them - we're one of the few organizations. 

So yes, it is a distributed ledger - it is based on a node. I'm happy to leverage it, but I would never want any of our members or any of your listeners to think that I have a hammer and I'm searching for a nail. It fit. It fit what we needed. 

JK: Yeah. Well, you know, I'm still learning about blockchain and the technology and distributed ledger, but some people have been searching for a long time for applications for it and insurance. When you talked about this, that actually sounded right. And then, when you started using the language, I thought, oh, I wonder? 

It's great to find good technologies that can solve problems. So that's amazing. And I think what's interesting, and probably relatively laggard in technology adoption. When I came into this space, I saw carrier systems, and I saw broker systems, and they were different.

And that's because it's only relatively recently that we've had cloud technology and the ability to build things in the cloud. 

One of the reasons we've been as successful as we have is because we focus on the exchange of information across client to broker to carrier - not just broker operations, carrier operations, or insured operations. I get that there's a need for communication and speedy communication, and email has been a traditional method. But emails get lost in the data, are unstructured, and there's no real-time response, as much as you're hammering on people to get back to you. 

The need for communication between different parts of the value chain is so critical right now and a huge opportunity for insuretechs in general. 

When I saw that announcement about ADEPT, I thought, okay, there's something interesting here. I'm familiar with the Solutions Group - we talked to them early in our journey, and I learned a lot from them, candidly. Some of the stuff we ended up building on our own, but I know they're out there. We've been encouraged to reach out to them and may do soon. 

I think there are a lot of problems that we can solve that haven't been solved, but I'm not looking to solve the ones that you guys have already solved. And we'll be excited and happy to work in that world when the time comes.

So, speaking of technology like ours, I think I saw a stat that said the amount of insuretechs that have come up in the last year or two, the number of companies in our space is growing exponentially. 

I'm curious, having come from the agent world, seeing technology and standards now, including solutions like ours for applications, how do you see the role of the agent evolving over the next three to five years? What are they going to keep doing? And what can they offload? 

BP: Well, I think many of us have heard the old saw, 'the more things change, the more they stay the same.' So, when I think about an independent agent: relationships, helping educate insureds, solving issues, being there in times of crisis, being a real thought partner and problem solver for a family, those things go unchanged. But how do they get executed? How much of the day gets to be spent on that? Is it now a 24/7 untethered experience? Perhaps. 

The core of what we do as agents and as an industry will not change; if anything, that will be further reinforced. It's my real hope and expectation that, rather than saying the role of the agent will fundamentally change, the role of the agent now can be increasingly focused on the core versus the context. 

For me, the context is running an agency, physical plant, the network infrastructure, the physical devices: that's context. 

The core is understanding the product set and consumer needs, getting to the intersection of needs and solutions, and really educating, problem-solving and helping to solve issues. 

I don't care how far AI machine learning gets pushed, quantum computing, and all the rest. In the end, countless studies at ACORD indicate that customers who seek and buy through independent agents are the best customers for carriers. They have lower loss ratios, higher levels of retention, and higher levels of cross-sell. 

Customers who do not seek out independent agent relationships and seek out more direct channels tend to price shop, have a lower willingness to pay for value, have low levels of cross-sell, and have much higher severity and frequencies of claims.

This is true of studies we've performed in Asia, the Americas, and Europe, and it's born again and again. 

Agents are critically important, and carriers know this. They see the results. For our industry's sake, no one benefits when you're shopping solely based on price. We're not selling a commodity - who cares about saving a dollar? You've got to be kidding me. What we're selling is security, risk management and putting your lives back together after a catastrophe or the death of a loved one. And an earner for a household- 

JK: Or protecting the business you've built- 

BP: What we're doing is incredibly important here. And the truth is, it's well appreciated by key stakeholders in our industry. This isn't some race to the bottom. Agents are here to communicate that value and serve carriers, communities, and the insurance and others. 

JK: I think you're right - what an agent does isn't going to change. How they do it, you know, I hope it will change. Right? And hopefully, solutions will be better; technologies will be better. But to your point, the advisory work, the support around claims, helping somebody protect the business that they spent 40, 60, 80 hours a week on is a critically important role and the choices that they take- 

BP: Now, it is shocking to me, Jason - your point about small business owners or even middle marketing, even large commercial. Really? You're worried about a commission level or a fee? For your worker's comp, BOP cover, commercial auto, multi pero, D&O, E&O? Come on. This is de minimus cost. They're spending more on office supplies. You can't advocate that. Why on earth would you do that? 

It bothers me, which is why it's not surprising for me to say that insureds who use agents have higher lifetime value. Of course, they do. It's a one-question IQ test. Do you really want to do this direct? Or do you want to go through a professional in your community who can understand your needs and the solutions? 

JK: Yeah, I mean, it speaks volumes for the community of independent agencies, right? The 36,000 companies out there - many of your clients, many of our clients as well - I think what they do and the value they create, I think it's sad that they're not better known. 

People ask me - people from outside of the industry - say, 'Hey, who are some of your clients?' And more often than not, they're not named brands. Most mid-market insurance agencies are not. But when you've got companies like Holmes Murphy, the BrokerTech Ventures community, and some of the agencies in that world, such as Lockton's that we work with, it's pretty extraordinary the value they create. 

Unless you're a CEO or a CFO or a general counsel in a company, you probably don't know or appreciate that, which is too bad. 

Within the community, I can tell you there are some fantastic people, and it's a lot different than the tech community. I've been in the tech community, and people in insurance are fantastic.

My wife always jokes with me that I left media, which is where I was earlier - at Shazam, in the music space - and got into insurance. I like the people here more than I did in that world, which is supposed to be a cool, fun place. 

I miss the conferences. I'm excited to go back, and those are kicking off again this fall. And, I miss the people. I'm going to start traveling again in September and see some of the clients we've been zooming with for the last 18 months. I think that the people in the culture in this space are great. 

We had Ed Page from Relation Insurance on our last podcast and they're out buying up agencies left and right. All he could talk about was culture, people, and community, and so, it's a good space. There are good people doing good things, and I'm looking forward to being a part of it for a while. I think you got into it earlier than I did, but I'm excited to be here for some time to come. 

Bill, we often wrap up our podcast with a little bit of a tie back to our brand, which is the concept of enlightenment, right? The title of the podcast is The Enlightened Agent, and enlightenment is defined as the state of having knowledge or understanding. I'm curious if you could share with people in the audience any special knowledge that you or your team has that sets you apart. What makes Bill or ACORD enlightened? What can you share?

BP: That's a great question. When you look to our industry, it has a rich history: hundreds, if not thousands of years of risk transfer and risk management. There's lots of accumulated legacy here, which gives great strength, a balance sheet of organizations, expertise, perspective, knowledge, rules of thumb, wisdom, and things like that.

Then we've got, at the other extreme, relative newcomers who may not be as experienced but have really innovative and new ideas around how to change and transform the industry. One of the things that I've really tried to work hard at ACORD was to establish a culture where we can bring together real industry veterans who have an appreciation for the context of why we do things the way we do things and how it evolved over time - from a technology standpoint, the data applications, infrastructure, and hardware. 

When I first started working on technology, we had vacuum tubes and magnetic memory, and then we had punch cards, so I remember that. Then we were talking about distributed ledgers, right? 

JK: Next level stuff. 

BP: I think, how do you bring together that respect and appreciation for context and what it takes to change it? How do you take the new thinkers? The people who are relatively new to the industry. They don't have to be young, or they could come from other parts of the ecosystem, and they’re trying to bring these new ideas. 

Being pragmatic and practical, how do you get large organizations, who might have 20 or more policy admin systems that have the full continuum of technology? Look from an anthropological standpoint. We have carriers still running assembler-based policy editing systems, some using cloud-based third-party policy admin vendors, and some of them within the same enterprise. Trying to run that, right. 

Then, look to some of the agents who, by the way, are the beating heart of the industry, but all paper. We still print paper forms! Some of the agents want them. 

I think we mentioned it earlier, before the call - I'm owned by my members. I can't say, 'That I don't support anymore.' I need to keep everything we have done over the last 50 years. Not all of it's there, but I still have EDI; I still have encapsulated SNA. You probably don't even know what I'm talking about. 

There was no TCP/IP protocol. It still exists. We have some large stakeholders running a claim system off a Blackberry infrastructure, right? It's out there. I have to keep that, but by the same token, how do I take on new technologies and new perspectives? RESTful APIs, digital standards, on a very granular, atomic level. How do I bridge that gap and bring them along? Because I'm owned by the members. 

I think one of the things that helps us and what makes us different is really being very thoughtful about who we bring into ACORD. Making sure that we've got a culture and obligation of assent, where we have collaboration, cooperation, and where people can push back on each other. They're saying, don't dismiss the past, but don't be mired in it so that you can't innovate and change.

I think we mentioned earlier, Jason, that you and I had an earlier conversation. We did a study of change efforts in the insurance industry, and two-thirds of them fail along at least one dimension: scope, time, and resource. So they didn't deliver the required scope, and/or they were more expensive and/or they were late.

Understanding that, we as an industry are probably not the leader in effective change management. How do we do things pragmatically? How do we take the new technology, the new data standards, the new ideas and concepts, and respect the past, but don't be so mired in it that we can't help them along the way? I think that makes us truly unique. And it's very hard. 

I've been fortunate to run organizations with tens of thousands of people - this is much smaller than that, so you really have to curate colleagues. We recruit for skill and will, collaboration and cooperation, and those who think outside the box. Those, by the same token, have an appreciation that that may sound good, but let me tell you what the reality looks like inside many of these carriers or brokers and agents. It's a long-winded answer, but I think it's being able to respect and appreciate the past. Understand it but help the industry and its stakeholders to be positioned for the future.

JK: And I think doing that through people and culture, right? That's what makes the best companies enlightened.

BP: I mentioned that Peter Drucker said, 'Culture eats strategy for breakfast.' For those of you who are early in your career, who dismiss culture as something soft and not really important. And you know, there's hard and soft: the hard, you need to throw money, and you can throw technology at the problem, but in the end, culture determines the strategic and tactical degrees of freedom you've got around process innovation, product innovation, and new technology. 

JK: 100%.

BP: Because if the culture isn't right, it will hold and squeeze and love that technology until it kills it and it's DOA. So you always have to be respectful of that.

JK: While killing your business at the same time.

BP: Yes, it can happen. I've seen the white blood cells show up in organizations that are very happy when you walk in, and then they begin to surround the technology because the culture isn't there. It's funny - in our digital maturity study, one of the variables we look at is culture, and there are a number of ways to define culture. We tend to look at data and values, individual and group.

It turns out when you look at the four different types of cultures in our culture study; there is no right or wrong culture. There isn't. All of those cultures can work and make you effective (growth-share in economics, high customer sat, high employee sat) but what happens is, is your strategic intent aligned with that culture? You have to ask yourself, do you develop a strategy that this organization can execute? Or, do you adapt the organization's execution for a winning strategy? Again, it depends on how you think you can change the culture. There's nothing more perilous, more dangerous, and more difficult to change than culture, so it can't be overstated. 

JK: Culture, that's everything. For early-stage companies, especially. We're in this world where we're losing, you know, four battles a week and winning the fifth. Because of that, we move forward every week. But to be able to handle four out of five days of getting kicked in the teeth, you have to have a really strong team that loves working together.

BP: It's funny, Jason. When I started, it struck me, why are there so many sports players and coaches? I happened to go to school with a Heisman Trophy winner's son, and he was an insurance agent. I never thought about it until just now, because I think in sports, you're not going to win all the time. 

Agents aren't going to win all the time either, but they keep going. It's a very special person who sets up a very special team who then embraces that culture to persevere because you're not going to get it all. I think that maybe for insuretechs and for organizations starting to serve our industry, there's a lesson there. If you have an expectation that you're going to win every one, you're just not. And agents are the best at really understanding that.

JK: Yeah. Team sports, especially baseball, where you get out seven times out of ten, and you're the star of the league. 

BP: The rockstar.

JK: I think that fits. Bill, this has been an amazing, enlightening, dare I say, conversation. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us, with the audience, with our listeners. Is there anything else you want to share before we wrap up the show? 

BP: Thank you for the podcast, and thank you for hosting us. I don't think there are enough media channels like this for agents out there who are interested at the intersection of age that they're valid. So thank you for the time. This is a real investment on your part to do this. You probably aren't thanked enough, but thank you for taking the time for doing this. It's important.

JK: I appreciate it. I enjoy it. I can tell you there's nothing easier than just hopping on a call and just having a live conversation, recording it and putting it out in the world. People are excited to learn and hear what people have to say. And so, thanks again for your time. 

We're looking forward to sharing this out with all of our listeners and hopefully seeing you at a big insurance conference sometime soon.

Thank you. 

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Featured Articles

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Mar 3, 2022
Caribou Honig

Broker Buddha CEO, Jason Keck, is joined by Caribou Honig, Co-Founder of InsureTech Connect and Partner at SemperVirens

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Dec 17, 2021
Mike Volk

Broker Buddha CEO, Jason Keck is joined by Mike Volk, Sr. Manager of Cyber Insurance at Optiv

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Dec 7, 2021
John Darr

Broker Buddha CEO, Jason Keck, is joined by John Darr, CEO and Agent at Darr Schackow Insurance

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Nov 29, 2021
Andrew Krantz

Broker Buddha CEO, Jason Keck, is joined by Sr. Vice President and Principal at York International, Andrew Krantz

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Nov 16, 2021
Tim Gaspar

Broker Buddha CEO, Jason Keck, is joined by Tim Gaspar, Founder and CEO of Gaspar Insurance Services

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Oct 21, 2021
Scott Henman

Broker Buddha CEO Jason Keck is joined by Scott Henman, commercial insurance agent at Michigan Insurance & Financial Services. Scott talks about his love for the trumpet and joy of being a dad in addition to his career in insurance that started 2 days after graduating from college. Scott talks about his longevity in the industry and the growth he has seen over the course of his career. His advice to other agents is to lead with authenticity when engaging with potential and existing clients.

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Aug 9, 2021
Toan Huynh

In this Podcast Episode, Toan Huynh talks about building and scaling companies

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Jul 5, 2021
Ed Page

Ed Page is an agency president who prioritized culture above all else.

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Jun 21, 2021
Jeremy Perlman

Jeremy Perlman is a Vice President at CBIZ Borden Perlman and talks on this podcast about how he used a layup endorsement to help a transportation company stay in business during the pandemic.

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May 24, 2021
Brad Hosket

Brad Hosket of Columbus-based Hosket Ulen talks about entering the insurance industry after a career in real estate and why the pandemic offered an opportunity to upgrade agency operations.

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May 18, 2021
Jason Angus

Jason Angus of VA-based The Hilb Group believes that when people grow, companies grow. Providing the resources that help teams do great work leads to success, and using technology to reduce the administrative workload is essential.

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May 9, 2021
Christina Kelley

Christina Kelley is a process improvement guru who unabashedly believes there is always a better way to do things. With a professional career that includes previous roles with the Indianapolis Museum of Art and KPMG, she wants to keep improving the customer experience for G&A clients.

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May 3, 2021
Greg Gamble

Greg Gamble is the Vice President for Client, Brokerage & Data Operations at Alliant Insurance Services. During his time in the industry, he has worked across the entire spectrum—agency, underwriter, carrier—and gives us his candid New Yorker take on all of it.

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Apr 25, 2021
Mike Shanahan

Mike Shanahan is the Chairman, President and CEO of St. Louis-based HM Risk. An industry veteran with an entrepreneurial streak, Mike shares his thoughts on how the business has changed and some of the critical moments in his career.

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Apr 19, 2021
Patrick Kinney

Patrick Kinney is the Executive Vice President, Enterprise Distribution Management, at Travelers. He combines decades of experience with a passion for finding ways to make the insurance process seamless for agents, customers, and carriers.

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Apr 12, 2021
Jeffrey Gallimore

Jeff Gallimore is the Chief Operating Officer, US National Accounts, at Zurich North America. He has a track record of building successful teams by empowering people and providing the tools that help them succeed. He shares his thoughts on how the industry has changed, and what changes still need to happen.

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Apr 5, 2021
David Carpentier

Enlightened agents are innovative. In this episode, we talk to David Carpentier of Assurely. His company is introducing new insurance products to meet the challenges of emerging and next-gen business models.

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Mar 25, 2021
Benji Markoff

In the debut episode of The Enlightened Agent podcast, Broker Buddha CEO Jason Keck is joined by the CEO of Founder Shield, Benji Markoff. Listen to find out why Markoff and his company try to make insurance fun—seriously—and how they leverage technology to improve the customer experience.

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