I’ve had the privilege of being in the insurance business for more than four decades. This has afforded me ample opportunity to learn from and share with a lot of great people over the years.
Of the many things I’ve learned – and tried to share with colleagues – one thing stands out. How you do business matters. It matters to clients. To carriers and partners. And to those around you. While there are always opportunities to drift off the ethical path, those who have the discipline to do the right things the right way are always investing in their reputation. And the return on this investment can be seen in their leadership, career progression and relationships.
But beyond being ethical because it’s the right thing to do, it’s important to remember that ethics are good for business. It enhances competitiveness and elevates the confidence clients have in your ability to deliver. It also sends a clear message that you value success and results earned by respecting the integrity of your profession and industry.
Nobody likes working with unethical people, even if that approach creates an advantage or a benefit from time to time. When it’s all said and done, we only have our reputation, which is affected by how we do business and who we do business with.
With this foundation, I want to share some insight on my ethical focus, much of which comes from the canons of ethics in insurance sales.
Care About Quality
It’s critical to strive to perform at a high level and do your part to enhance the quality of the insurance industry. This includes ethical behavior, as well as your expertise, service and leadership.
The first part is straightforward — care about the impact of your work and always work to improve. No matter what you do – underwriting, sales, claims, marketing, product development, reinsurance – there’s an obligation to the industry and clients to do it well.
The second part requires thinking beyond your day-to-day. When you make it a priority to serve clients with diligence and quality, that’s great for your clients, but it’s also beneficial for our industry. When we don’t make quality a top priority, the damage goes beyond our own relationships and competitiveness and can bring the industry down. We all carry a responsibility to show clients how well we can support them and serve their needs. And when we do, we create more opportunities for our business.
Lead by Example
Leaders don’t rely on others to raise the ethical bar for our profession. So, if you view yourself as a leader, you have to step up to lead by example and treat others how you would want to be treated.
It’s about creating an expectation with clients that the service and expertise they receive from you is the standard. Clients will appreciate what you provide and how you provide it and value working with an industry with people like you. Clients may encounter others who fall short of that standard, but when that happens, you stand out in a positive way. And that’s good for business.
This also involves an obligation to call out unethical behavior when it happens. We may think we’re immune to the consequences of someone else’s actions, but when we’re all part of the same industry, we are all affected. Speaking up is one of the best ways to protect our industry and show clients that ethics matter to us.
Respect Your Relationships
No matter how good you are at what you do, you didn’t do it alone. We need each other, and that’s why honoring the relationships we’ve cultivated over the years is an essential element of ethical leadership.
Building and honoring trust. Instilling confidence in the fact that you do what you say you will do. Helping people when they need it, collaborating selflessly and giving more than you take. These are ingredients found in both an ethical approach to your profession and meaningful success in your business. If we do these things thoughtfully and consistently, we should expect more growth and success.
You’re Never Alone
Always remember that a career or business differentiated by strong ethics requires 24/7 attention. No matter how ethically you’ve conducted yourself to this point, you are still susceptible to a misstep that can set you back.
Every decision requires thought about doing the right thing, the right way. If you’re ever unsure about a particular scenario, engage trusted colleagues and friends, lay out the facts and get the guidance you need.
Henry Lombardi is responsible for managing NFP’s P&C operations and resources, working alongside our regional and platform leaders to build and elevate a world-class P&C business. Since joining the team in 2017, Henry’s insights have driven strategies to leverage NFP’s increasing scale in P&C to build a better business, while positioning NFP to become a premier broker as distribution models continue to evolve.