Building an agency from the ground up

Hi guys, Chris here again. As a veteran in the insurance industry, I’ve had the opportunity to be part of seeing many insurance agencies grow from single agents to large teams bringing in tens of millions of dollars of commission a year. Because of this, many hungry Brokers that I come across ask me what it takes to grow a successful agency. So today, I want to put some thoughts together discussing what it takes to build a successful insurance agency. 

To start, I have been part of building three different agencies. I started with a company called W Capital Partners insurance, which was a life GA and Life Settlement broker. From there,  McCombs Risk Advisors was born as a collaboration between our company and a very high profile commercial P and C agency. We were a full service insurance agency offering life, Health and P and C. I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge on how a full service agency runs. Having worked with both of these companies, I wanted to take the lead in growing and developing an agency that I could be proud of. This led me to meeting a small technology driven firm that had the right parts and just needed the last gear to drive the insurance side of the business called Toropoint. As the Director of Business Development I have developed and built Toropoint,  a fin tech agency focused on life insurance and life settlements into a midsized company driving tens of millions of dollars in yearly commission, and we’re just getting started.

Let’s talk a little about how I got here. When I started with W Capital Partners insurance, I had just graduated college and with only 6 months of experience I was looking for my opportunity to prove myself. At W Capital partners, I was lucky to work with a mentor who took me under his wing and helped me understand the industry through his lens. The daily grind was difficult as I was just getting started. Just as I was finally gaining traction, the financial crisis of 2008 hit. The next two years were grewling and I did not make more than my base. This led me to learn one of my biggest lessons when it comes to business development, and that’s that nothing is guaranteed, you have to earn it all and sometimes things outside our control throw everything we know aside. After getting through the crisis, things got better and I started to taste success at WCP. We built a portfolio of life assets for McCombs and soon after launched an agency with his name on it. 

As I grew with W Capital Partners which was now McCombs and worked my way up, I was put into many  difficult situations as VP of Sales and Marketing. We had a good run with a great staff but eventually the partners decided to go their separate ways.

We then went back to being W Capital Partners. It is there that I had my greatest success to date. I was really coming into my own as an entrepreneur and finally gained enough experience and knowledge to really make an impact in the life and life settlement world. Coupled with my personal development, we  had a great staff that we inherited from the McCombs days. We had a really nice run but eventually the staff left for greener pastures and I was left rebuilding the foundation of the core team. The team lead running WCP was also going through some personal problems. As was I, life comes at you fast and sometimes it can seem overwhelming but I never gave up, I always kept pushing.

After many months of grinding and pushing myself, I eventually exhausted all efforts and determined that a change was needed on my part as well.

Around the same time, Toropoint came calling and I had to listen. They introduced me to an innovative approach to a general agency by introducing technology to manage, connect, and track clients and their policies. I was so impressed that I started to work with Toropoint part time,  splitting my time between Toro and W Capital partners. Eventually, I was put into a position where I had to choose. Now it seems like it was an easy decision but at the time it was not. Eventually I made the decision to leave behind everything I had known in my professional career for the chance to build something new.

When I joined Toropoint full time, they were in a difficult position, we had to produce quickly as a lot of resources were invested in the technology. Though they were able to manage that aspect, they were struggling on the insurance aspect of the business. That’s where I knew I could be the most useful. Through the utilization of the tech Toro had put into place, I was able to help build the agency side of the business driving millions in revenue in a short period of time. Since then we have gone from strength to strength, quickly growing. We were able to rely on our networks to gain business. However that’s when the similarities end between Toro and my previous firms. At Toro we leverage technology like never before. In fact Toropoint’s proprietary technology built by the partners, is a unique approach to your standard policy management software. This coupled with the industry knowledge I had, we were able to build something no other agency has done before. My partners had the tech background and the experience of scaling companies which made us a great fit to partner together. Now I am finally in the position to build a multifaceted fintech agency. We do not just rely on our network like the other agencies. We have a team of advisors that  bring on new clients and agents. In fact our tech is so good we sell it to other agencies.

What I learned over the years in the industry is that this business is about people. One of the hardest struggles any growing agency will face is finding the right partners. I’ve learned that  the people you build with are sometimes more important than what you build. Even the tallest skyscraper can come crashing down if the foundation is not strong.

At WCP and McCombs we relied on our personal connections and referrals from existing clients. While this is the backbone of any agency, here at Toropoint we offer and do so much more. We have proprietary technology, a defined sales and marketing process, a strong partnership with our vendors as well as an incredible book of existing clients that are happy to refer us to all of their friends and family.

Do you want to build an agency but don’t have the right partners or support staff? Call me today at Toropoint we offer that and so much more.

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