Christina Kelley, Chief Operating Officer at Indianapolis-based Gregory & Appel, joins Broker Buddha CEO Jason Keck  and host Dean Gemmell for a candid conversation about the state of the industry, the changes that are needed, and how the pandemic has affected agency operations.

You can hear the interview on Apple Podcasts, or Spotify.

Learn more about Gregory & Appel and their podcast here.

Dean Gemmell: Hey, we're back with another episode of The Enlightened Agent. Jason Keck, CEO of Broker Buddha, it's good to see you again. We just wrapped up a really interesting interview with Christina Kelly from Gregory & Appel, out in Indianapolis. There was lots of good insight, and she was not afraid to be refreshingly candid.


Jason Keck: Yeah, ever since I met Christina, she's been very direct, honest, and opinionated. She was kind enough to share some great stories with us about some of the things that she thinks the industry needs to change, which I thought was awesome. She also talked about some of her experiences implementing Salesforce within the agency. It was a great episode today.


DG: What I really loved was that she has opinions, but she was also quite willing to share where they've fallen short at times or what things have been harder than they imagined. 


JK: Exactly. 


DG: Yeah. Well, with that, let's get right to our conversation with Christina Kelly.


Hi, and welcome to The Enlightened Agent, the podcast that brings you conversations with insurance professionals and industry leaders. I'm Dean Gemmell, and I'm joined again by broker Buddha CEO Jason Keck. Hey there, Jason. 


JK: What's up, Dean? 


DG: It looks like you're in your scrappy startup office again, during the pandemic. 


JK: Always. I live here and love it. 


DG: Let's introduce our guest. She's the Chief Operating Officer at Indianapolis-based Gregory & Appel. Christina Kelly, welcome to the show.


Christina Kelly: Thank you for having me.


DG: It's great to have you here. Christina. Let's start with what you do most days. We all make certain assumptions when we hear the title of Chief Operating Officer. But tell me what your role involves on most days at Gregory & Appel.


CK: Well, during the pandemic, it has definitely changed a little bit. But, for the majority of the day, I spend time looking at what my service staff is up to, workload balancing, looking at new opportunities to help improve their work. I clean kitchens; I empty the dishwasher then I look at budgets and make sure that we're not spending more money than we're bringing in. I look at how we save money, especially from last year to this year going forward. Then I save plants around the office, and I clean out the refrigerators in addition to the dishwashers, so it's really a mixed bag on a day-to-day basis. 


DG: It's as most of us assume - Chief Operating Officer means everything. 


CK: People say, 'Go into operations - it'll be fun!'


JK You are, and you're loving it! How did things change last year? I'm curious. What did you guys have to do? How did you adjust?


CK: We had to pivot on a dime. We got a notification that the city was shutting down on March 11, when the World Health Organization said, Guys, this is serious. So, on Friday, we thought we should probably stress test our system because we were not a remote working environment at all. We sent half of our staff home on Thursday and tried to test the system. Then, on Friday afternoon, we let everyone know they weren't coming back on Monday. Over the weekend, we hustled internally, trying to figure out what's the best way to support our colleagues in a remote environment that they're not used to. We came in the next week - just a few of us, our IT manager and myself - and we reconfigured the office completely because we thought this would be over in April. 


DG: It's incredible how naive we all were.


CK: It's mid-April; we're all coming back. There is this new thing called social distancing, so how do we accommodate for that? I had to pick up a whole different skill set along with our CEO, IT manager, CFO, and human resources manager, just to figure out how we would keep this boat floating going forward. We learned about social distancing, understanding mask requirements, and how to respond to our employees in a remote environment - trying to make sure that they continued to stay engaged and productive. We came up with all sorts of fun things to do, different metrics to track them by-


JK: I want to know about that because that's interesting. That's a new thing. You're trying to measure performance, and people are remote. I've heard about people starting to look at their IT logs to see things like logins and email sent. Where did you guys go with that? I'm curious.


CK: Well, we've never been a clipboard organization. Andrew, myself, and the rest of our senior leadership staff, really pride ourselves on empowering all of our colleagues and saying, we hired you as adults; we expect you to act like an adult throughout the day. We're not going to monitor every minute of your day. A lot of those logs are unreliable because you can be logged into VPN all day long, but that doesn't mean you're working. You can be on Skype all day long, and just every once in every 15 minutes, walk by, and you're green. 


We asked clients - how's it going out there? Are you getting feedback and response from your account manager and producer at a satisfactory level? We really had to reflect and say, are we asking our clients the right questions in this moment? We weren't the only ones dealing with the pandemic; our clients were too. To ask them, how are we doing right now? Are we doing all right? It seemed ingenuous. So instead, we asked the question, how are you doing? What can we do to help? Then we turned that around and said, is that a measure of effectiveness for our staff as well? How are you doing? How can I help you? What do you need today? Our colleagues have always been really forthcoming with feedback on that front.


JK: Good. That's what you want. It doesn't mean you can address them all, but at least you know where the pain is.


CK: They were quite honest and let us know that they felt stressed, anxious, and needed more resources at home. We reconfigured our tech stack to say, you don't just have a laptop; we're going to figure out how to get you two monitors and how to get you a better Wi-Fi connection. If we need to give you a jetpack, we'll give you a jetpack. Us getting on the forefront of that allowed our colleagues to be the best that they could be in that moment. As the summer wore on and we got into the fall, we really started to see that there was fatigue; people weren't taking their PTO.


JK: Yeah, there's nothing to do with it. You couldn't go anywhere! 


CK: Take a vacation in my kitchen. We tried to encourage our colleagues they needed to take time off. Our HR manager Jamie, was absolutely brilliant in this time, compiling resources to say we have an EAP program, take advantage of that, Call me if you need me, and even though the open door was virtual, it was wide open, like, if you need groceries, let's help you with that. If you need childcare, let's help you with that. We're all in it together. This sucked for everyone and still does. 


JK: And everybody's circumstances were different. So some people might have needed childcare help and some landscaping help. Who knows what they needed? All of a sudden, you're at home and seeing all the things that need to be fixed in your house.


CK: That's why I decided to come to the office in the first place and stay here.


JK: Well, yes, you made all those changes, and now it looks like you guys are back! Congratulations! You get to adjust again!


CK: I think empowering our colleagues to let us know how they were doing helped on the efficiency front. We got very few complaints from our clients. I think our overall retention was actually up last year over the year before and that's due to our staff because they started understanding the same thing. We're all in this together; I need to reach out and ask the question, how are you doing?


DG: If we talk silver linings, do you think there's anything you're going to do better after the pandemic because of it? Are there things you think that you'll improve as an agency?


CK: We got rid of our dress code.


DG: Oh, there you go. That's a big improvement.


CK: It's a small rock, but I think it'll make a difference. We've been talking quite a bit about it, and we've just recently released a video to our employees saying it's time to come back. I think our last cohort in the office gets vaccinated at the end of April/beginning of May, so we're going to slowly transition back. We've never been a work-from-home company. It's so strange. Work from home - why? Why would we let them do that? Now, all of a sudden, we're back in the office? Why would we want to do that? We're changing our policy on that. For the first time ever, we've said we will start recruiting fully remote talent - whatever state you live in.


JK: That opens a talent pool big time for you. Good for you. Yeah, we're thinking through that quite a bit - the hybrid, the remote-first strategy. We listened to some people who have been remote from day one. I talked to a couple of people in that world, and they basically said if you have anybody remote, you have to treat everybody as remote; otherwise, they feel like they're not part of the mothership. That starts to create an interesting dynamic. You have two-thirds of the people in the office, and a third are remote, but you have to find a way that everybody feels equal. That'll be a new challenge for you.


CK: Yeah, it opened up a completely different set of things to think about. How do you onboard a fully remote employee? How do you keep that person engaged? Do you have them fly in once a quarter, and then there's a stranger walking around the office? You're right. We've had a cast of our colleagues that come in every single day, the way that I do, and we have a different relationship than I now have with fully remote employees. Can I continue that? That was born out of the need and the moment. 


JK: There's definitely something special about the remote employee coming in. When I was at Tumblr, we had an LA office, and I did a lot of advertising there. Once a quarter, one of the senior people from that office would come to New York for a week. It was exciting and fun. In the beginning, there'll be strangers, but if you're meeting with them and talking to them every day, those are going to be interesting dynamics that I think you'll really enjoy. I hope it all adds up.


CK: Through 2020 and 2021, we hired six or seven employees. It's been interesting, to say the least, now that people are starting to come back to the office. I think, who's that? I know you've been on a Zoom call - I only know you from here up! I didn't recognize the rest of you! 


JK: You're taller than I thought you were! We've had a few of those. 


CK: We're changing that, and that's a pretty significant shift for us, culturally. We're moving to two days in the office; three days work from home, we dropped our dress code - it's now dress for your day. We're still not unlocking the office again. We've always had a locked floor because we have an Employee Benefits Division, where a lot of sensitive data is floating around. When the pandemic hit, we locked all floors, except for the common one that we share with another tenant. We're not changing that. 


The other thing I think that's been a pretty big shift for us is we used to have a front desk and a receptionist. You don't need it if you don't have anybody coming in. She does a lot more than just sitting at the front desk, so we changed her role, and I think it's opened up some opportunities. The other thing that has shifted for us as a company is that we're looking at non-traditional insurance roles inside the office. We created a learning and development talent acquisition department - we created two new roles for that. We've expanded our IT staff that is going to help us with our Salesforce implementation. 


We wanted to get a little bit more creative and, instead of always hiring someone from the outside, we've looked at our own colleagues and said, what makes you passionate about this? Now that I know that, do I have a need I can fit to that passion, or do I create something? That's been exciting for us to do because it's made us look differently. It used to be that you had an agency with producers, account managers, a long-suffering accounting department that had to deal with all the mistakes. And that was it. About five, six, or seven years ago, we formalized the HR function. We had these sort of shadowy, Nike, guys-


JK: Yeah - they kept your laptops and desktops running. 


CK: Yeah, they were always in a closet somewhere working and redoing network cables. Nobody ever really knew what they did. We've shifted to getting the entire organization to understand that they're a business partner, they're here to support you, and they're actually helping you develop things. Our IT department is right in the throes of making life easier for everyone. That, for an agency, is a pretty significant mind shift. When I walked in three almost four years ago, Andrew hired me just to say, look at what the client experience is here and how do we improve it? 


DG: Hey, you guys have really been treading water during this pandemic, hardly doing anything, it sounds like! You mentioned that you came in relatively recently to insurance, and it's obvious that one of the things you were hired for was to bring a fresh perspective. If you look at insurance right now, what are some things that you think need to change?


CK: I need a three-part episode. 


DG: You can go three.


JK: Start at the top, work your way down, and we'll cut you off when we run out of time.


CK: Carriers. If you want me to start at the top, carriers. The way that they interact with insurance - with brokers and agencies - has to change. As a producer, you have a good relationship with a particular underwriter, financial underwriter, property, and you have a good relationship with their field rep. Account managers typically have that same relationship, more with the field rep, because they used to come in and walk around and hand out food, and that was great. You had your go-to underwriter. 


But that channel is changing, because I think the carriers are too - the volume of the transactional relationship that's coming across to them. And there's such turnover now - not just on the carrier side, it's on our side too. Those relationships, they're not as tight-knit and as deep as they used to be. They used to be with Hartford; now they're with Hanover. But you have to restart all of that because it's a different product line; it's a different company culture for them that they're getting to be a part of. It's about how they're interacting with us. 


In some cases, we want to have the conversations with you; it's great because we need to tell the story. I have this client that has this program that needs this, that, and the other thing. You're gonna decline it, but let me tell you this story because you need the context. That part is always going to have to be there. But a lot of this business has turned transactional. Push it through - it's a vanilla risk. It's a property; it's an auto - just give me the yes. How much premium do you want? 


Those transactions require a different mechanism for us to get them done. If every agency looks at their book and says, that's over 50% of what I do, why are you making that channel impossible to navigate? Come up with a different way. Direct carrier submission, that's one thing I know you guys are looking at, too. That would be a game-changer for agencies. I mean, it would be tremendous for us because we would be able to carve out so many other minutes to then pivot to that client and say, Tell me your story. Let me talk to you about your risk program. Let me tell you why this is important. Let me help you understand how this coverage is going to work when you need to call it. 


Because we're over here doing data entry, we don't have time to connect with our clients in that way. And that's where you build those relationships. That's where you build the business - when they start talking about you and saying, I don't really know anything about general liability coverage. But you know what, I've got a guy, or I have a great contact at G&A, and she's amazing. She will sit down with you, and you will want to work in insurance when she's done talking to you because it's exciting. That's what we want because that's where this creativity and the need for insurance should live on. How do I develop a program that's meaningful? Hold on. I got ten more pages to fill out.


JK: I'll make sure I mention all of our carrier friends when we post this podcast on LinkedIn; tag, tag, tag - minute number 12:43, listen to Christina. 


CK: Change it. That's one of the big things. It's coming - I can see it.

JK: Yeah, there are carriers with APIs out there. Some of them are taking longer to get there than others and starting to work with companies like us. Yes, it's coming.


CK: Data. That needs to change. We need better access to the stuff that we don't have. We have a shedload of data that we sit on - a mountain of it. And we do nothing with it, because our agency management system-


JK: Doesn't help you with that. 


CK: Thank you. 


JK: It stores it for you. In a closet. It's locked.


CK: I was not going to use the words evil empire, but I just did.


JK: You have to pay to get the key.


CK: Having access, either figuring out some cost-share with our carriers or with other entities such as yours to figure out all of this publicly available data. How do I scrape it? How do I get it? How do I make it easier for me to finish my process? When I'm sitting down with an insured, the last thing I want to ask them is, 'When did you replace that roof? Was it 2007 or 2008?' Because that's going to make a really big difference. Or how many square feet do you think are in that unused storage? If those things are publicly available someplace else, help us figure out how to scrape that over into our applications and our system to do some analysis on it. It creates a much meatier submission. The more information you can give to your underwriter, they're top of the pile or bottom of the pile.


JK: One of the questions I have around that is, people have asked us, can you use third-party data in the platform? Does it make sense? The thing I'm still trying to understand - is that a carrier's responsibility to pull that, is that the agent's responsibility to pull that? Does the agent need it? Are you doing the underwriter a favor by giving it to them? Does it actually help you make decisions? How is that helping other than you're not annoying the client with the questions? Are you doing pre-underwriting on your end before you're sending things in?


CK: Yes. And I, in operations, also have selfish designs on data like that. I want to know what our demographics are. Where are we hitting? Eastside? Okay, Westside, Boomtown, Northside. Let's go there. 


JK: Customer segmentation allows you to segment your base in a certain way and analyze where it's doing well and where it's not.


CK: Quit barking up that tree. We talk about having 135 years of experience in this space, plus however many people are sitting in our chairs at any given time, but we're asking the same question over and over again. There are better things to spend our time on. With data, we have to figure out what's a good balance. Is this the carrier's responsibility? Is it my responsibility? The better underwriting information I give to a carrier, the easier that submission is going to be, the easier the renewal is going to be, and so on. 


The biggest thing that has to change is how we treat our service staff. I have these account managers that have been doing this; they've seen almost everything walk across their desk. They're brilliant. They will look at a piece of new business and say, this is where this needs to go. I only get 10% of that out of every single day because they don't have time. They just don't have the time because they're mired in these systems that require so many keystrokes. It all hangs together: better carrier interaction, a better way to access data and process it.


I once was accused, very early on, of trying to turn everybody into robots. I was saying, 'Insurtech is the way to go. This is amazing.' Then people said, you're just trying to turn us into robots. And I said, guess what? You're a robot today. If you don't want to use your critical thinking skills, you're just doing robotic, repeatable things. Then I dug the hole even deeper and said, I can hire anyone to do your job. 


I regretted words the moment they left my mouth. But there is a certain component of work that doesn't require you to think, so let me take that off your plate. Let me get a robot to do that. Let me have machine learning do that or pre-fillable forms. Let me have dropdowns, radio buttons, and checkmarks. Then, focus again on that relationship piece. That's what insurance - the relationship piece. They got over it after I called them all robots. They decided not to tar and feather me, and they let me go forward with some of my crazy ideas. One of which is to replace our agency management system. It's something that's long overdue. Although, we were recently put into the small business category-


JK: By who? Who knows? Whose job is categorizing people? That's not fair.


CK: It was an epic fail. We decided that our agency may have outgrown the functionality of the system. We can't continue with the philosophy of the more new business I write, I just keep adding more bodies, and I have to feed those more bodies. They require a lot from me on a daily basis; I can't just keep adding stuff. I don't have enough room in my building today for them. How do I change that? 


How do I get them from transactional processing data inputters to automating a lot of the information, making our clients the stewards of their own data, and involving them in the process? Other than I'm gonna send you a form, I need you to look at it, tell me what's wrong with it, and then sign it. Then you're gonna hear from me again in approximately 242 days when I need more information from you. Or maybe sometime in between, because I need more money and you told me that you had ten more cars than you originally said you had. Now all of a sudden, I have to deliver bad news, which is, I want more money, or even worse news, you've been non-renewed. 


That's the only time you'll ever hear from me; you're never going to hear from me to say, Hey, I just read this article in the Indianapolis Business Journal about you expanding to another location. That's really exciting. Congratulations on your success. How can we help you?


JK: That sounds like good customer service. Especially when you deliver it that way. You talked about your IT team, upgrading them, moving on from your management system, and using Salesforce as a platform. We've had that conversation before. What's been your experience with Salesforce so far? Has it been everything you've expected? Has it been harder than you imagine? I think there are a lot of agents out there who are seriously thinking about doing this; they want to know. 


CK: it is a magical unicorn- 


JK: Wow! That's good to hear.


CK: - that needs a lot of training! It's not for the faint of heart. That is my message of caution. It's taken us more time than I would like to admit that it's taken, but I have the pandemic as an excuse. 


JK: We got distracted.


DG: We were changing dress codes! 


CK: What has been great, though, it has allowed my IT team, which is an amazing team, to get passionate about something other than network security and help tickets. It's allowed our account managers to think through - how do I want to spend my day? It's been a hard road to get there, but the minute that they see it, it's amazing. 


JK: It's like a playground! Oh, look what I can do! I can do this, oh, wait, I can do that. All those things I've always wanted to do, I can do it now. I'm not stuck. Well, it's still work, but you can do it.


CK: Except for when I start to call it a shiny pony. We've had to get a few people invested in this journey to understand. Every account has a life cycle; it goes through certain stages. There's the acquisition stage of it, where producers are out there looking for new business, then it goes through this proposal stage, then the bind issue, and it lands into the service stage. In the service stage, you're adding and subtracting things. You're making your client's life better and easier. Then it goes through this pre-renewal stage, and then we land right back in the bind, issue, and service stage. 


If we can automate the connection between acquisition proposing binding and issuing and saying, every time that I move into the next step of this lifecycle, what are the things that I need to do? I can build that in Salesforce because I can create automated workflows, templated documents, and pre-fills. If I have a producer that's out there chasing a piece of new business, when he first puts in that lead as an opportunity, he can say, I'm thinking about proposing these five lines of coverage for them: drop-down, click, click, click. The client says, 'You're amazing; I love this Broker Buddha piece that you put on the front end of it for me with all of the forms. I want to be with you.'


We say, bind it; it goes into the next step, and a task list pops up for the account manager that says, here are the things that you have to do while you're binding. It's almost a guided walkthrough that we can then also onboard new talent faster because we're training them as they're doing the work.


JK: They're just following the instructions. 


CK: Yeah, they're not having to rely on their muscle memory and say, I have to add an activity which, depending on the activity I'm adding, I have to remember which screens I can skip, which ones I have to fill out. Then you get into this area of I don't do this every single day, so I don't really know what I'm doing. And because I don't really know what I'm doing, suddenly I'm in a country called E&O. I don't know how to get out of it. 


With all of those things, if I have a guided walkthrough, I can start to avoid some of them. That's been the really great thing about Salesforce; it has allowed us to build it like that.


JK: Love it. 


CK: It's taken a lot longer. 


JK: There's an entire business of Salesforce developers out there. There are some things that the platform can do that are configuration, and some things require engineers; they have a whole marketplace for third-party apps. They've got Zapier and MuleSoft connections to integrate things. It's a beast; it's very powerful. But it requires, as you've learned, quite a lot of investment.

CK: It's been great. I've been getting the question from a few friends as to why change? An AMS does so much more than that. Why change? It's really necessary for us to grow.


JK: What was the hardest thing to let go of? What are people clamoring for that you have to build yourself? Are there things that people say we need to get to that next or first?


CK: Evidences and download. It's interesting because we only use download on the personal line side. 


JK: Even though everybody's still focused on commercial, or heavily focused on commercial, you can't forget. By the way, you still do a lot of personal - it's not gonna be as much, but it's there.


CK: It's interesting because we've really had to fight some mindsets there. Our personal lines are highly transactional; we have a large book of middle-market business, which is great. But it's very transactional, and there's a lot of data that's required. The download for us is, we submit to the carrier, and then download fills in the pieces in our AMS that we didn't capture. The fear is, if I don't have that, I have to do all of this data entry. What we're doing is we look at work. This is going to translate really well on your podcast because I'm using my hands a lot.


DG: Some people will watch on YouTube.


CK: We have spikes where work happens today. What we're trying to do with Salesforce is level out the spikes of work and put the work where it belongs. It comes back to data. If I can scrape in as much data as I possibly can, I don't have to do the data entry on the back end - it comes to me. 


JK: Then you don't need the download to get the data because you're getting it upfront. So the download becomes less critical.


CK: It's important, and it's okay. I recognize that, and I am famous at G&A for stepping into it all the time. I've stepped into the download trap, and it's okay. I get it. I recognize it, and I own it. I have better wording now for it. It's the evidence, and that's the toughest nut for us to crack right now. How do we produce those because we produce them at a pretty significant scale? We're out there in our partner universe, talking to people saying - is there something out there that might be easier for us to use? 


JK: Evidence is certificates. Every agent's favorite topic of conversation - certificates of insurance. I get it. It's a space we're watching closely, as you know, so it's interesting to get your context on that. One of the things that I like to ask all of our guests on the podcast is related a little bit to Broker Buddha, our brand, and the concept of enlightenment. Enlightenment is the state of having knowledge or understanding. I'm curious if there's any special knowledge that you or your team has that sets you apart? Or, if there are any stories you have about Gregory & Appel and how you guys have helped your clients or anybody special in the industry? The point of this podcast is to really humanize the agents who do the great work that you guys do and hear the stories and the companies you've helped. Are there any of those that you have that you could share with us?


CK: I think probably one of the areas where we are coming out ahead, perhaps in a thought-leader position, is around cyber.


JK: Yeah; it's a very hot topic right now.


CK: Yep. So we have a producer, Reid - if I can name names, Reid Putnam, and one of our senior risk engineers, Charlie Vaught; they have gone through the tough program. It is a pretty intensive boot camp to understand exactly how these cyber risk programs need to be built and what to look out for - not just in the immediate term, but what's out on the horizon. They're creating some strategic thinkers there. It's been invaluable for us because we've been able to take that knowledge to our clients. 


We have a pretty significant book in the hospital space and in higher education, and it is to talk to them about data security. It's not just data security; it's network security. It's not just contracting with a third party; it's really understanding what the vulnerabilities are. In these large organizations, if you have a really good CTO or a CIO in position, they're right there with you. But then you drop down just a level, where you perhaps just have a network administrator who's very good at network security but not great at all of the other things - that social engineering piece, the phishing. 


The vulnerabilities that you have in a company are your people, unfortunately. Especially now that we all move to a remote working environment, we have, instead of just two points of access, we have 147 because everybody is sitting at home and on the side streaming Netflix, which is great. But it creates this whole different level of vulnerability. How do we talk to our clients about security assessments? And what do those mean today? When your carrier that has written your cyber for the last five years comes to you and says, your premium's going up by 500% or non-renew. How do you explain that to a client? And how do you say we can probably get the premium increase down to 280%, but you're going to have to spend a million-plus dollars on security upgrades. It's a hard sell all the way around, but I think what-


JK: So your agents are advising CIOs and IT managers on how to get how to upgrade their security. That's not a simple lift. I'm doubting that your agents have computer science degrees and networking backgrounds. That's pretty extraordinary. 


CK: It brings me back to the very beginning where I said that we shifted our mindset, and our IT department is a business partner. Our producers come and ask the questions. In this assessment, there are all these acronyms - what do they mean? What is a preferred vendor in this space? Who can we bring to the table? Because Chris has talked to over 200 different vendors just in the last six months about this. We know that we're vulnerable; the wall keeps getting higher and thicker, and they're at us every single day. It helps us. 


We can use ourselves as a case study, and we're okay doing that. We're really transparent about some of the incidents that we've had. We've put together an outstanding tabletop exercise for our clients that we took ourselves through and failed miserably. 


JK: You've got to eat your own dog food. You've got to understand what you're selling.


CK: We sat and patted ourselves on the back and said, 'We've got this under control.' Reid flipped the slide, and he said, 'By the way, this bad actor has been in your system for the last seven months.' That's what our clients are facing today. They all know there's a bad actor; they just don't know where it's coming from and how long it's been there. If we can start having those conversations with our clients, it's easier to say - here's why your premium has increased, why I'm changing carriers, and why we're endorsing this coverage in all sorts of ways to add these layers of protection.

We use ourselves as a case study. When we started working from home, I crossed my fingers for three months because we had to beef up our own infrastructure. Everything was suddenly backwatered. Every night I went to bed, and I said, please don't let it crash! Please don't let someone break-in. Every day I got lucky! 


JK: It's good that you did the analysis. You went through the exercise on yourself. You identified the gaps, and then you got a plan to adjust them. With all good security programs, you do regular assessments, start working through the issues. Every year, the assessments will probably change as the risks change. I don't think there's an expectation that you have them all solved on day one. But if you don't have a systematic approach or program in place to identify the risks, evaluate how you're dealing with them and put a plan in place to address them, it's going to get worse and be more costly - either to insure yourself or to put a solution in place. Good for you guys.


CK: That's why I'm in operations! 


DG: I'd say you made me terrified about cyber security but excited if I could work at your firm. That seems like an exciting place, even if the cyber security discussion has me completely unnerved. I want to thank you for your time today, and your candor is refreshing - I'll say that. I know that Jason appreciates it as well. 


CK: Thank you for the time. This was a lot of fun. 


JK: Thanks for coming on, Christina. I really enjoyed the conversation. I'm looking forward to more of these - maybe on another podcast one day, in-person, or Zoom calls, as and when we get the opportunity.


CK: We should invite you to join our podcast with Andrew, The Growth Adventure. I'll shamelessly plug that for us. It's exciting! 


DG: Yeah, The Growth Adventure - you can find the link to that on your website - Gregory & Appel.


JK: Count me in - I'd love to do it, thank you! 


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Published on:

Sunday, May 9, 2021