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Surety Growth Amidst Economic Shifts and Opportunities
In the surety arena, where variables and uncertainties exist, FCCI’s Surety team is up to the challenge
In this dynamic landscape, FCCI’s journey has been marked by remarkable growth from a modest start-up in 2011 to 25 states soon after, and now spanning into 45 states by the end of 2023. FCCI’s commitment to excellence and forward-thinking approach has propelled Surety’s expansion. This growth has been meticulously crafted by focusing on more than just business transactions. The foundation of trust and relationship-building has been at the forefront.
Beyond the Numbers
Beyond numbers and statistics, FCCI’s vision emphasizes the intrinsic importance of building relationships. FCCI has established a business footprint and trust in each state by “Doing what we say we’ll do.” That means providing a financial guarantee of binding contractual promises between businesses and contractors and fulfilling these obligations.
In 2023, the Surety team appointed skilled agents, expanded its technological network and added exceptional teammates who fortified FCCI’s presence in the new territories. “All the work we have done will reap rewards. The IT and background work we have been doing to enter new states will also help other aspects of our company,” said Scott Paice, Senior Vice President, Surety. “This is more than state expansion. It’s so much more than that.”
“Based on what we’re seeing in the economy, this sector of our business will do better than most.”
SCOTT PAICE, Senior Vice President, Surety
Scott explained that FCCI was on the top 40 list of insurers writing surety business by midyear. “Most of our competitors in the top 50 have the ability to write surety business on a national basis. We made it to the top 50 surety carriers without a national presence earlier in the year. Agents are more willing to do business because they won't be worried about their account venturing into a new state that we're not in,” said Scott. Scott had projected a 10% growth for 2023 but surpassed that goal, resulting in 25% growth by year-end.
“In our business, you have to be conservative at times. You can't be too aggressive because it could lead to losses, but, based on our current economic climate, we’ve exceeded what we originally thought,” said Scott. “Based on what we’re seeing in the economy, this sector of our business will do better than most.”
FCCI’s Surety team went from a regional presence to more of a national one, competing better with “the other guys.”
“We’ve substantially increased our presence,” said Scott.
Strategic Growth with a Focus on Relationships
Scott explained that based on Surety’s growth, his outlook is more positive than what it was in a few years ago. Although growth in the new states has been somewhat slow, Scott isn’t worried. The driving force behind substantial growth is the commitment to forging meaningful connections. FCCI recognizes the importance of that. “We’re investing time and resources in building genuine relationships with our agents and policyholders that will pay off. Relationships that are worth building do take time. You can't enter a state and expect instant established trust,” said Scott. Scott further explained that the presence in new states means more than just writing business. The core philosophy extends beyond numbers. It’s about people.
This poster series was created especially for Surety
“Understanding that being the ‘new guy in town’ requires more than just picking up the phone. We’ve taken strategic steps to hire local talent in the territories,” said Scott. Scott expanded on the idea that this planning ensures a nuanced understanding of regional needs and contributes to establishing an entrepreneurial approach. “This is a proactive and competitive plan of action, and we’re really proud of that,” said Scott. “It's the momentum we've got in our people and our service. That's all it is. The people and the service. There's no magic formula, but the most important thing we can do is be there for our customers and ensure they understand they can count on us.”
Scott further stated that accessibility is one of the most important aspects of surety. It enhances the customer’s journey, offering multiple channels for communication. “I believe slow and steady should be the way to do it. Slow and steady but also accessible. We're more accessible than many of our competitors, from our senior management to our board. One thing we pride ourselves on is that our agents feel valued because we listen. We listen to feedback, and we implement that. That’s what sets us apart,” said Scott.
Elevating Excellence through Strategic Technological Upgrades
Technology upgrades are essential for operational efficiency but crucial for an improved customer experience. Scott emphasized the importance of staying current in the digital landscape to accommodate growth in an evolving market. “Because of the efficiencies that our customers might not see externally, we've benefited internally, which has allowed us to grow over 25% each year in the past two years. We’ve upgraded our IT systems because of the growth, and it’s made us more efficient,” said Scott. This allows FCCI’s Surety team to drive forward with a competitive edge and facilitate informed decision-making through comprehensive business intelligence. Ultimately, this provides the team with the proper tools for streamlined business.
New States, New Teammates
Hiring the right people for the job is paramount for success, and FCCI’s Surety team hired talented individuals who bring diverse skills and expertise to the new territories. This fosters an innovative approach to problem-solving and customer service when navigating the challenges that come with growth. “We've hired new teammates that have an abundance of experience in those territories. It’s so important that we have boots on the ground in those new areas and not do it from afar. They know the landscape; they know who’s who,” said Scott. “I specifically sought individuals that know the players and have strong interpersonal skills.”
Skilled professionals play a pivotal role by assessing and managing risk associated with surety while ensuring the company's financial stability, Scott added. Expertise in underwriting and evaluating the many aspects that come with it is essential for maintaining a balanced portfolio and minimizing losses.
In the surety business, where trust and reliability are crucial, having a team of experienced individuals enhances FCCI’s ability to form strong relationships with agents, their customers and other stakeholders, fostering long-term growth and success along the way. “Our competitors don’t always have the capacity to listen to clients’ needs because they may be too big to give that attention to each of their clients, but with us, they have a voice. That customer relationship is super important. I feel like being smaller allows you to have more of a voice,” said Scott. “When you go to a larger carrier, you’ll be put in a queue after many other clients. Again, with us, you will feel like you have a voice and that you do matter. It's amazing how many big companies don't return phone calls or emails. It's small things; all you have to do is do your job, and you’ll succeed. So, when you hire the right individuals, they know that customer relationships are very important.”
Quality Over Quantity
Scott emphasized that although FCCI’s Surety team is still growing, the quality of service agents and their customers receive is what truly matters. “In the 20 states that we have already written surety, they will let you know that they prefer doing business with FCCI. In the new states that we went into, it will take longer. But the positive is that it’s nice to be the new person in town because agents and policyholders don’t know what to expect. After all, there are no negatives attached to our name,” said Scott. “Once clients have an unwanted experience, they want to see what the other competitor offers. And we will be there for them every step of the way to make sure they don’t have that experience again.”
Along with the quality of service, Scott explained that FCCI increased its surety capacity from $20 million single and $40 million aggregate to $30 million single and $60 million aggregate. “We have increased our capacity. We're growing with our accounts. Jobs are just getting bigger, and now we can write larger jobs and larger programs,” said Scott. The reason for the increase is that agents can now write business without worrying about FCCI’s Surety reaching its maximum ceiling potential – just another example of growth. “This is more of a self-imposed capacity, and we can certainly consider larger jobs and programs on a case-by-case basis,” added Scott.
Fueling Tomorrow
“Everything that has come out of this growth has exceeded my expectations, and that’s pretty cool, right?” said Scott. “Everything we do to expand into new states is strategic-growth oriented. For example, I said I wanted to surpass $20 million in written premiums by 2020, and we surpassed that in 2018. Now, I’d like to say that we want to reach $50 million by 2025, and I believe we can accomplish this. Why? Because of FCCI’s support. I believe we can do that because of the support and opportunity our agents have given us. To boil it down, our product is more than just a piece of paper. And I don’t take any of this for granted.” True success transcends mere financial gains – it resonates in the strength of the relationships woven through trust and integrity. A successful company understands that its foundation lies not just in underwriting precision but also in the relationships forged along the way. FCCI’s Surety team is committed to nurturing these connections. By valuing people as much as profitability, it propels growth and recognizes that the trust cultivated today is the foundation upon which tomorrow will be built.
This is how FCCI’s Surety team ensures their commitment to excellence.