Providing objective, independent advice has been Bob Currey's (President of Robert M. Currey and Associates) goal since founding the firm in 1981. Today, RMC has grown into one of the largest such organizations in the country, with unsurpassed expertise in the risk management issues confronted by major property owners and developers.
The following is an excerpt of an interview with Bob Currey.
Q: If I have an insurance broker or agent, why would I want to hire a risk management consultant?
RMC: The insurance industry is founded on an inherent conflict of interest. Carriers wish to provide the least coverage/service at the greatest premium. Our clients, really all consumers of insurance, want exactly the opposite. Most carriers use brokers to peddle their wares and compensate them using a commission scheme that is ultimately tied to the premium and not their contribution. For most underwriters the business model is simple. No insurance sale, no commission. Against that kind of backdrop, why should we be surprised to learn that nearly every risk management problem cries out for an independent insurance solution? Brokers and agents walk a tightrope between the interests of their customers and their carriers; each need trumped by their own. They are not just a part of the insurance delivery system, they are the system. Consultants are needed because most consumers do not have the time or inclination to learn all that is needed to properly police their insurance vendors. Consultancies have flourished because there is a demonstrable and inarguable need for someone who is on YOUR side.
Q: What are some of the reasons for retaining consultants like RMC?
RMC: We want to be part of the ongoing solution to your normally increasing insurance expense, not an added cost. The entire practice is predicated on the belief that RMC can save its clients many times more money than the cost of the engagement. This may sound too good to be true, but our track record is unblemished on this front. In more than 30 years, we have never, ever contributed less than the identifiable savings that inured from our efforts. Never. In fact, the savings are generally multiples of our fees. Coverage enhancements and service improvements are sought and expected, but in the final analysis it is the premium savings at stake that drive the engagements. Most people think they pay way too much for insurance. Turns out most people are correct.
Q: How does RMC charge?
RMC: Prior to our initial engagement, we evaluate prospective client's existing program structure and cost to determine whether we can help. We then provide an estimate of our fee that is based on a number of factors including the time involved, the complexity of the issues and the results we expect to obtain. In virtually all cases, our fees are dwarfed by our contributions. We only accept assisgnments where we believe the results will significantly benefit the client; we would not have a successful business otherwise.
During the early years of our practice, we billed on a time and expense basis but have since found that our clients prefer to know the amount of our fee in advance of beginning so that they can budget accordingly and have no surprises. If it is not possible to establish the fee in advance, we provide an estimated range to be refined as we more fully understand the requirements of the engagement.
Q: What types of companies/institutions utilize consultants?
RMC: Thankfully, there is no such thing as a typical client. How boring! Customers are large and small; service firms or manufacturers, with liability or property driven risks. Looking back over 30 years, the overwhelming percentage of clients could be described as follows:
- They recognize the inherent conflicts in the commercial insurance world and feel they need someone to police the system.
- They conclude that the savings are greater than the consultant's fee.
- They spend between $250,000 and $20 million a year in insurance premiums
- The person responsible for implementing the company's risk management strategy either doesn't have the experience or does not have the time to make sure they are buying their coverage efficiently.
We have had a few clients with smaller insurance budgets, but I can't remember anyone who retained a consultant without the other traits.
Q: Have you developed any specialized expertise?
RMC: We have experience in nearly every industry. We are experts on the techniques available to large organizations to handle their risk management needs. The risks are different in nearly every business, but the options and techniques we utilize are not. Over the years, we have had engagements in the following industries:
- Real Estate Management and Development — Office, shopping centers, residential
- Non-Profits in a dozen or more areas
- Schools and Universities
- Law Firms
- Chemicals and Paint Manufacturing
- Banking and Financial
Q: No specialty?
RMC: Probably, yes. Real Estate. Since our practice has grown through referrals, we do have more business tied to the Real Estate industry — owners, developers, managers, contractors and their real estate oriented lawyers and lenders. We have clients with holdings in nearly every time zone where there is a substantial urban market. It is not an exaggeration to say that no firm can touch our expertise in handling the risk management concerns of major real estate owners. The carriers, brokers, lawyers and lenders appreciate our understanding of this arena.
Q: What have you tried to accomplish in the years since the firm was organized?
RMC: Fundamentally, I have tried to provide a needed service in an extraordinary way. We employ highly motivated people who respect the firm, the clients and the vendor professionals that we supervise. The vast majority of clients retain our services for years, not for just a single assignment. We provide highly professional, directed, respectful service in a market where it is sorely lacking. We have built a business around some timeless and simple principles — work hard, know your business, be honest and deliver over and over again.