Checking the rear view as we move forward

December provides an opportunity to look back at all you’ve accomplished as well as an opportunity to look ahead. (Photo: Shutterstock)

If you’re like me, you spend much of your time in a state of perpetual motion.

That’s a kind way of saying that as you constantly strive to excel in every area of your life, both professional and personal, your life goes by in a blur, punctuated by moments of triumph and tiredness. Year’s end is about the only time I allow myself the luxury of looking back on what we’ve accomplished, and I have to say, after forcing myself to slow down for a few minutes and examine it, 2017 was quite a year of work for NU — and its readership — to be proud of.

Related: 2017 NU/PIA Agent Survey arrives: Producers’ greatest challenges, favorite carriers revealed

After months of preparation with our amazing partners at both the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) and Flaspöhler, part of NMG Consulting, in March we published the inaugural National Underwriter/PIA Independent Agent Survey — for my money, the most comprehensive survey of independent agents in the U.S. One of the key takeaways was that independent agents desire more of a relationship with their carrier partners, as they enjoyed in years past. They’re working harder than ever, and can’t do it alone.

It was a hell of a project to tackle, and one of those times in your career where everyone involved comes away more enriched than before and excited about the prospect of continuing that collaboration — and I’m pleased to report that we will do just that in the new year. Those findings will be published in NU‘s February issue and on in the 2018 National Underwriter/PIA Independent Agent Survey.

Continuing awards projects

Our Risk Manager Choice Awards, another project executed with our research partners at Flaspöhler, will likewise continue in 2018. Each year our risk manager readers make their voices heard in print and online about the P&C carriers that serve them best in this cover feature, and their top selections receive award statuettes at the annual massive RIMS conference. In a market that’s as competitive as it’s ever been, in which a “win” is more welcome than ever, I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to deliver those statuettes to the highest-ranked insurers. I look forward to doing so at RIMS 2018 in San Antonio.

I’m also deeply proud of our continued partnerships with the Workers’ Compensation Institute (with whom we present our Excellence in Workers’ Compensation Risk Management Awards at WCI’s annual Educational Conference in Orlando and participate in the annual volunteer day at Give Kids the World Village) and the Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA), the organization minted this year via the union of NAPSLO and AAMGA. It was a smart move indeed for those two organizations to join forces, and I was pleased to help chronicle that journey for our readers as it began and ended — again, to the benefit of all involved.

One of the most satisfying editorial projects we delivered this year was NU‘s Agency of the Year Awards, which enabled us to highlight the best practices of several top independent agencies across America. There’s always something new to learn about acquiring new business and servicing clients, no matter what the agency’s size — and I felt it would be a solid idea to share those best practices with our audience. Reader response was so strong that we plan on also executing quarterly features (in addition to the awards) on additional agencies with their own valuable stories to tell.

You might say that storytelling is our business, and business is good. We look forward to delivering all this and more to you, our faithful readers, in 2018.

Until then, I think I’m going to kick back with a Stella/Guinness black & tan (another thing I discovered this year — try it; it’ll change your life) and listen to a 2009 Asbury Park concert with Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny and Little Steven singing “It’s Been a Long Time.” I think we’ve all earned it, both our brand and our readers.

Here’s wishing you the happiest and safest of holidays, and much success in the year to come.