A Day in the Life Series, brought to you by FuturePLUS, dives into different roles in the Professional Liability industry to give readers an idea of what a typical day for the role looks like.
In this edition of A Day In The Life, we explore the role of Senior Broker. Cooper O’Connor from Burns & Wilcox has generously volunteered to provide readers with a glimpse into his typical work day and discusses his favorite parts of being a broker, the soft skills that make for a successful broker, tips for holding meetings and advice for newer brokers.
Insurance Brokers are responsible for facilitating insurance transactions. Typically, this involves assisting with the purchase of insurance coverage. Insurance Brokers commonly work for retail insurance agencies or wholesale brokerage companies. Brokers aim to find and negotiate coverage that appropriately matches the needs of each insured, based on that insured’s exposure. Wholesale Brokers work with retail insurance agents rather than working directly with individual insureds. Wholesale brokers are most often utilized by retail agents to help them place tough business, or business they do not have experience and expertise in.
What is your current position? What was your major in college?
I am a Senior Broker of Professional, Management, and Cyber Liability at Burns & Wilcox Brokerage. I went to Hobart College in Geneva, NY and graduated with dual majors in Economics & History.
What positions have you held to date? Why did you get into the insurance industry?
I began my insurance career in 2016 as a Broker Assistant at a wholesale brokerage. From there I worked my way up to being a Producer and later a Vice President. Like almost everyone, I fell into the insurance industry. I was brought in on a temporary contract. At the end of that contract, I was offered a full-time position.
What do you love most about your position?
I love the freedom my position provides. No day is ever the same. Some days I’ll be on a plane to meet with a retail agency and other days I will be at my desk working on placing accounts.
What is one misconception about your position?
Many people believe wholesale brokers only go to surplus lines carriers. We have the ability to approach the same markets as retail agents as well as surplus lines carriers. This allows us to give market access to retail agencies who do not have access to certain admitted carriers.
What professional designations do you hold (if any)?
I am in the process of getting my RPLU designation.
What skills make someone successful in your position?
It is important to be able to connect with people and understand the pain points they are currently experiencing. Most wholesale brokers have access to the same carriers, so the way to differentiate yourself is based on your knowledge and service.
What does your morning routine consist of?
I wake up and start every morning with a coffee while I read through the D&O Diary and Insurance Journal for any news. I usually make any calls to London early in the morning so I can have a few hours to get things done before their workday ends. Following those calls, I follow up on anything that has not been responded on yet from the day before.
What tips do you have for hosting meetings effectively?
I find taking meetings over an activity or food is the best way to get business. Meetings in a conference room do not feel like you are getting to know someone. Going out to lunch or golfing is when I find you learn the most about someone and can connect with them more.
What do you do to ensure you are progressing in your career and continuously learning?
I am constantly reading policy forms and trying to keep up on the latest industry news. Reading policy forms is the best way to learn a product and make sure you know the intricacies of them. Additionally, I try to attend seminars whenever they are available.
How do you approach mundane or administrative tasks?
I like to log in on the weekend to do administrative tasks. When you can work without new emails coming in it is the best time to get organized and complete administrative tasks.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t stress over the small things. There is so much business out there and you can’t win every account. All you can do is offer up the best terms you can.
What is one of your goals you are working towards and have not yet accomplished?
I would like to eventually manage a territory or a product group within a wholesale brokerage. It would be great to lend my experience to people after I have more experience in the industry.
What can the insurance industry do to attract and retain talent?
It is important to show people that insurance can be interesting. Most people only think of insurance as homeowners or their auto insurance. Commercial insurance is much more diverse and many of the companies you work with are innovative.