“Up-front due diligence is critical,” she revealed. “Before entering into the relationship, both parties need to do their homework. Then there is a clear view. Both companies need to have a vision and be able to articulate where they are today and where they are going tomorrow. Conversely, both MGA and carrier need to understand whether their visions conflict with one another.
“Transparency is also important. Talk about your honest expectations of each other in the relationship. What are your deal breakers and what are your negotiating points? What are your strengths and development points? “
“You both have to define success: How will you know if the partnership is working? What are the mile markers? How will they change over time? And this fits into accountability. Both parties must be responsible for the success of the relationship. Constant self-awareness and communication are crucial when either the MGA or the network operator falls short or needs help. You cannot identify areas of development and make progress if people are not honest about their gaps and the support they need. “
A fruitful MGA-carrier partnership can benefit retailers in a number of ways, Skantharaja added, including “access to specialized programs with unique coverage and services, frontline decision makers who can quickly assess opportunities,” and enabling retailers to ” more influence on the direction and development of the program. “
While these are all very valuable tips in the relationship, what does Skantharaja think MGAs should look for when looking for a carrier partner?
“Financial stability and longevity in the market are the price of entry,” she said. “After all, the freight forwarder has to be there on a long-term basis to settle claims. Do they have the necessary skills in terms of expertise to assist in the underwriting of your business? The carrier shouldn’t be redundant, but they should be additive.
“You should also determine where you are on your technological journey and whether it is symbiotic with yours. Are you ready to think big when it comes to innovation, think creatively, think differently?
“Not all transport companies are created equal. Many do not have the right perspective, understanding, and infrastructure to give MGAs the space to seize opportunities or provide real support in overcoming inevitable difficulties. Analyzing their track record in the program room is an important data point. “
And what about the downside of things? What exactly should MGAs bring to this relationship, especially given today’s rapidly evolving risk landscape?
“Proven expertise in underwriting is the queen, it all starts there,” said Skantharaja. “There are carriers who want to penetrate a certain industry, coverage or industry. As a risk-taking company, it is imperative that you have a thorough understanding of risk selection for that specific segment or line of business.
“You also need agility. MGAs can move faster than carriers by quickly focusing on sales, leveraging technology, and recovering from failure faster than insurance companies struggling with much larger infrastructure and investments.
“Then there is an efficient distribution. If you do this long enough, you’ll know that distribution is one of the most difficult elements to create and scale. It’s time consuming and expensive. When a freight forwarder contracts with an MGA, they have one producer as opposed to thousands.
“Finally, don’t forget the speed to market. Partnering with an MGA can be the fastest, most effective way for a freight forwarder to enter a room. MGAs with experience already know the market landscape and the necessary value proposition around product and pricing. It can take months or years for an airline to be up to date, and by then the opportunity may have passed. “
With all this in mind, Tangram has proven itself with over two decades of profitable scaling programs, the establishment of a specialized sales force and the partnership with growth-oriented carriers in the MGA area.
Tangram is also proudly progressive and pushing ahead with a diverse, cross-generational team, a female CEO and a 100% female leadership team.
“We are an independent, entrepreneurial company with no hierarchy or bureaucracy,” explains Skantharaja. “In a world where big companies are getting bigger, people want access to decision makers. You want ideas to be implemented. They want a rich culture, not rigid corporations. Tangram has a clear advantage as one of the few large MGAs that remain independent and allow us to shape our own destiny on our own terms. “