By Matt Stadler, Executive Vice President
A company’s success hinges on more than profitability. Consider Abbott Downing Company, which built a thriving enterprise in the 1800s as a leading manufacturer of carriages and wagons, including the famed Concord stagecoaches used by Wells Fargo to deliver important business to customers nationwide. Today, the latter enterprise lives on, having adapted to changing technologies, markets and customer needs, while the stagecoach maker is no more.
Profits result from an organization doing many things right. In addition to creating a quality product or service that meets market demands, a business needs to have the right people and processes in place to drive its success. At Marsh & McLennan Agency, keeping these three factors in mind has helped us get to where we are, and shapes our vision for the future. We are setting ourselves apart by investing in new technologies to increase efficiency and offer clients valuable data that gives them a competitive advantage in the marketplace. More importantly, we are recruiting and training top talent to carry forward our legacy of excellence by developing the next generation of quality advisors and consultants to serve our customers.
The Best Tools
From ubiquitous laptops and smartphones to sophisticated manufacturing, fleet management and point-of-sale systems, technology plays a critical role across all industries. In addition to tools that improve operations, our clients are seeking more analytical data to make strategic business decisions. The better they understand the markets and their competitors, the better they can prepare for what the future holds, or get a head start on new initiatives. MMA is investing in big data warehousing and financial analytic tools for claim analytics, risk matching, benchmarking reports, and actuarial studies, so we can be more effective in how we advise our clients in their decision-making.
These investments also will enable us to provide critical data in real time. The days of heading back to the office to run some reports and scheduling a follow-up meeting are soon to fade. Instead, our advisors will be able to say, “Let me pull up that information right now and show you how you compare, and why we’re making this recommendation.” Having real-time analyses and benchmarks available at the touch of a button lets companies react faster and be more astute in putting together business strategies and engaging their populations.
From an internal standpoint, MMA also has invested in robust cyber protections. We hold a significant amount of private customer data, and making sure we protect that information through rigorous cyber policies and procedures is a critical part of how we partner with our clients. News reports of data breaches have become commonplace, and organizations large and small are at risk. If the partners that you rely on aren’t making sure that their own data security protocols are air tight, they’re not doing you any favors talking to you about the cyber policies for your business.
The Best Talent
Of course, having the best technology in the world doesn’t do any good if you don’t have quality people to manage and deliver the information. We aim to increase our effectiveness with our partners and in the market by combining the most useful current technologies with exceptional employees, who are highly motivated, well-trained and customer-focused.
Attracting and retaining the best candidates means first understanding what they want in an employer, and setting ourselves apart from the competition by recognizing these needs. For example, Millennials, who currently make up the largest generation in the U.S., rank the opportunity to learn and grow as the most important factor when looking for a job, according to a recent Gallup poll. Gen Xers and Baby Boomers share this perspective, and also place high value on the quality of their manager. Millennials and Baby Boomers both say that an interest in the type of work is extremely important in their job search, the survey showed, ranking it above compensation and opportunities for advancement.
To develop our next generation of top-tier consultants, advisors, account managers and administrative staff, MMA has put together comprehensive internal training programs that foster employee engagement and enable the company to recruit from within. We don’t just hire advisors and consultants with 10-15 years of industry experience, but also bright prospects whose intelligence and eagerness to learn makes up for their lack of insurance industry knowledge. Our Strikeforce training program teaches them the tools of the trade, so they can become experts and develop a strong foundation to build a long-term career path as part of the MMA team.
Entry-level recruits learn various facets of the business and the way things operate behind the scenes, from how policies work to the paperwork required and filing procedures. Training in these fundamental operations is consistent across our population, so we can provide consistent service to all our clients. Strikeforce also pairs each up-and-comer with a mentor within the company, so they can learn the craft from someone who has been successful in the industry for a long time. (The mentoring program is so popular that some partnerships have continued for several years, because the guidance and encouragement the mentee receive keeps their career growth on a forward trajectory.) As our employees’ technical skills grow, we look for opportunities to further develop their skills and put them closer to the client as account managers, senior account managers, and account executives.
The Best Company
In addition to providing robust training and continual opportunities for career growth, we focus intently on maintaining a positive corporate culture. Our mentality at MMA has always been that if we take great care of our team members, they’ll take great care of our customers. Fostering engagement and loyalty isn’t just about job training, it’s about making people feel valued. One way we do that is by empowering every employee to share their thoughts and ideas on how MMA can continue to grow and thrive. We are always looking for the next great idea to improve our processes, engage our customer base, or differentiate our business in the marketplace. Each individual throughout our company has the ability to change the direction of what we’re trying to accomplish. Just because something has been done a certain way for decades doesn’t mean that’s how it should be done going forward. Providing employees with the opportunity to share their input, and mentoring them along a structured career path, gives people a sense of belonging and creates the positive culture that we desire.