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Insurance Business Canada’s Top 30 Elite Brokers
The second-annual Top 30 feature is bigger and better than before – What does it take to become an ELITE BROKER?
The nation’s top insurance players are getting their due in the second-annual Elite Brokers ranking by Insurance Business, grading the top 30 leading brokers in the Canadian insurance market.
This is our second time around searching for Canada’s top brokers, and our summer survey attracted entries from all corners of the country. As expected, those with the big numbers rose to the top of the list. But there are many other qualities that make for an Elite Broker.
In order to rank performance, we were not simply inviting applications from the most advanced brokers and senior executives working at highprofile, well-resourced brokerages. We were also aiming to reward brokers from smaller firms and niche industries who were punching above their weight and achieving big things.
Our yardstick for success included:
- Premium income;
- Revenue per client;
- Industry awards and recognition;
- Community involvement and fundraising activities;
- Number and value of policies written; and
- Book of clients.
A place in the Insurance Business Elite Brokers ranking is clear recognition of each broker’s professional standing as one of the leading brokers in the Canadian insurance market. However, in interviews with our Top 30, the consistent message received was that they couldn’t have achieved such successful results without a strong network of support staff and stakeholders.
What does it take to make an Elite Broker? When interviewing our top 30 brokers, several common strategies for success became clear:
An unwavering commitment to customer service is essential, from first point of contact with a potential client, through to follow-up after a claim has been processed.
If you want longevity and success with clients, colleagues, insurers, other brokers and your brokerage career, you need to nurture your relationships across the board.
It’s no longer acceptable to sit behind a desk and correspond via email. If you want to be a cut above the rest in today’s market, you need to hit the phones, visit clients in person and make a genuine connection.
Every broker agrees that continued success is impossible without a qualified and supportive team behind you.
TOP 5 BY THE NUMBERS
- Total Policies: 5,541
- Total Clients: 2,671
- Total years of experience: 114
- Average revenue: $2.42 million
- Total Top 5 Revenue: $12.08 million
Partner, Producer, Chief Sales Officer, Jones DesLauriers Insurance, Toronto, Ont.
Once again, Danny Sgro and Kevin Stedman of Jones DesLauriers have placed one and two among the Top 30 Elite Brokers in Canada. But this year they have a bit of company in the top five. Glenn Murray, also from Jones DesLauriers, edged out John Hubbard to secure fifth spot, for a total of three representing the Toronto, Ont. firm. But it was chief sales officer Danny Sgro who took top honours a full $1 million clear of the field, racking up an impressive $3.7 million in revenue. “Repeating as number one is a great honour. This award is very motivating and encourages me to continue to outperform by exceeding my clients’ expectations,” says Sgro.
“The Top 30 award has provided the firm with high-profile recognition within the insurance industry, as well as with our clients.
Being in the Top 30 affirms our position in the marketplace and ultimately attracts new customers.” But it is more than just the numbers that placed Sgro atop the Elite Brokers in our survey. His strong commitment to several charitable organizations also factored into the selection. “Personally, my family and I have been advocates of Free the Children for many years,” says Sgro. “As a family, we have participated in a number international builds and mission trips, most recently to the Masai Mara in Kenya. My children are currently on a youth build trip in Ecuador. My experience supporting Free the Children has been so engaging and rewarding, that in 2013, I encouraged Jones DesLauriers to support this cause.”
Partner, Producer, Chief Sales Officer, Jones DesLauriers Insurance, Toronto, Ont.
If James Brown was the hardest-working man in show business, the 1,643 written policies and 838 clients claimed by Kevin Stedman place him among those working hardest in the Canadian insurance biz. “I’m dedicated to providing the best service for my client’s and it’s rewarding to be recognized,” says Stedman. “Having my clients and insurance partners see me in the Top 30, among my industry peers, reassures them that they are working with someone who is dedicated to providing superior service and ensuring the success of their business.” Returning once again to the second spot in this year’s Elite Broker Top 30, Stedman has a very large book of transportation clients who require auto and fleet coverage, and was recognized for his efforts, receiving an Award of Excellence based on his sales performance and contributions to the firm throughout the year.
“What does it take to be a top broker? It’s about the client and supporting their business needs,” Stedman, who reported a revenue of $2.30 million tells Insurance Business. “You have to be a hard worker, listen to what the client needs, and work towards their goals.” Ranked as one of the top five producers at JDIMI, Stedman also has a long list of charitable organizations that he and his family support. “Last year, my volunteer experiences were very hands-on,” says Stedman. “I was involved in a build for Habitat for Humanity in Peterborough. I also volunteered at the Festival of Trees, in support of Peterborough health care, where I not only helped with the set-up and tear down of the event, but I also assisted in building a hockey rink for the sporting events and decorating the community in Christmas lights.” Stedman and his family also help prepare and serve meals at their local food bank. “I also coach my son’s minor hockey team, where I am responsible for directing and motivating the team during games and practices,” adds Stedman, an active participant in Jones DesLauriers’ involvement with the United Way.
Sam J. Feldman,
Senior Vice President, Renfrew Insurance Ltd., Calgary, Alta.
Placing third in the Top 30 list shouldn’t come as a surprise to 13-year veteran Sam J. Feldman, as he has been a perennial top producer at his firm over the last five years.
“I have been a top producer of the month for new business 35 out of 60 months and in the top three for most valuable producer based on new business, retention, and growth for four out of the past five years,” says Feldman. “My mentor taught me years ago that to be successful, you must come into the office at 4:30 or 5 a.m. to get all your paperwork done for the day. Then, when 8:30 came around, you were ready to be on the road.”
That mentor, Norman Cochrane, left quite the first impression on a young Sam Feldman. “He took me aside when I first started at Renfrew and said, ‘Sit down, shut up and listen;’” says Feldman, “and I did just that for the first three years.” But like many brokers who have risen to the top of the industry, Feldman tips his hat to those who form what he likes to call ‘my partners’ at the company. “To be an elite broker, you must have a great support team, and my success is because of them,” he says. “Bev, Jarrod, Geordie, Caterina and my marketing team, Cheryl, Robin, Katherine and Alanna; all these people are key contributors and why we have had such success in gaining key new clients and handling the great group of dedicated clients that we have been so fortunate to have had for many years.”
Vice President, Nacora Insurance Brokers Ltd., Markham, Ont.
If there was ever a case of a one-man show, you could make it when talking about our number four broker, Jeff Rodin. “That is my biggest problem; I’m a bit of a control freak. I’m signing on every policy that comes through here,” says Rodin, vice president of Nacora Insurance Brokers Ltd. in Markham, Ont., whose pen graced 2,280 policies for 1,241 clients in 2013. “I’ve got to know every little thing of every commercial file, and almost every personal lines file that is related to commercial account. So I’m pretty much hands-on everything.”
As Rodin looks back on last year, he describes it as a one of growth, but also a year of premium bumps following the natural catastrophes that hit Ontario. “A very solid year in growth, but we’re also seeing rate increases as a result of the July 8 flood that hit Toronto and the December ice storm,” says Rodin. “Now in 2014, they are going up quite a bit. We’re seeing 10 to 15 per cent increases, which is a result of what happened last year.”
Four major catastrophic claims have all contributed to the need to ratchet up rates, says Rodin. They began in June in Calgary, then in Toronto in July, followed by the trail derailment in Quebec and the ice storms in December. “As a result of these big four cat claims, the insurance companies are digging in,” he tells Insurance Business, “and we’re looking at rate increases; especially in property schedules, in which we’re heavily involved. They are going up.”
Partner, Chief Sales Officer, Transportation Advisor, Jones DesLauriers Insurance, Toronto, Ont.
With more than 15 years of experience in the insurance industry, six of that heading up one of JDIMI’s largest divisions, Glenn Murray has positioned himself quite nicely to be among Canada’s elite brokers. “I have ranked among the top five producers at JDIMI for the past five years, and have received an Award of Excellence based on my sales performance and contributions to the firm,” says Murray. A strong 2013 saw Murray bring in $1.619 million in revenue, on the strength of 452 policies and 193 clients.
And if you think his competitive streak doesn’t go beyond being a top earner in the industry, think again. “At an insurance industry ski and snowboard day, I outperformed over 100 other brokers and took home the gold medal,” he says. “I was also a runnerup in a Heli-Skiing photo contest in British Columbia.” Providing guidance is a particular passion for Murray, who considers it to be an integral aspect of his job at JDIMI, and an opportunity to learn from those fresh faces that are entering the industry. “Part of my job is to mentor young brokers who are new to the business,” he says. “It is extremely rewarding to see a young broker’s passion for the industry and to be a part of that enthusiasm and help them to achieve their sales results. It’s a give-and-take relationship, as I learn from them as well.”
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