The Trusted Advisor is speaking to one of our very own Regional Managers this week. Cameron Cardinal joining us from down the Mississippi River, in Louisiana to be exact. In this case, back in 2016, The Iroquois Group had 0 members in the state, and we are now growing 37 healthy and long-term member relationships. Join us to learn how we went from zero to $50 Million in 4 years. Follow our LinkedIn page to stay up to date.
Edwin K. Morris (3s):
Welcome to the trusted advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois group. Iroquois is your trusted advisor in all things insurance. I am Edwin K. Morris. Today in the studio we have Cameron Cardinal. He joined Iroquois in 2016 to manage the expansion into Louisiana. Cameron has previously held positions in the insurance industry at Encompass, Zurich, and CNA, and most recently honed his skills as an agency owner. Cameron has been a critical part of Iroquois success in the Louisiana insurance market. How did you find yourself getting into Louisiana?
Cameron Cardinal (44s):
Wow, that’s that’s a good question. I think it goes back to our managing partner, David Ward, who a couple of years back, somewhere around 2014, he decided to look into coming into Louisiana as a new market for him. He handles a few other States and this was one that was on his radar to, to approach. But I think not knowing the state quite so well, you know, he needed some help with that. So he was inclined to look into hiring some consultants who knew the market and who actually understood the, the challenges we have here in Louisiana from a, from a coastal state and things of that nature.
Cameron Cardinal (1m 23s):
He actually hired these folks to kind of lead the way for him to enter the state of Louisiana.
Edwin K. Morris (1m 29s):
So he, he sought assistance to get that nut cracked so he could figure it out.
Cameron Cardinal (1m 35s):
Exactly these two, these two consultants, if you will, knew the area, knew the lay of the state and the issues that we’re having. So he relied on them to kind of point him in the right direction of where we should start, how we should start as far as entering the state, given the challenges that we have here.
Edwin K. Morris (1m 51s):
And how long of a process was that?
Cameron Cardinal (1m 54s):
Well, David started in 2014 looking into coming here. And first thing he had to do was make sure that he had the proper carrier mix. He wanted to make sure that the carriers that he chose to come in were agreeable to enter into this situation with the network. Once he got that in place, he needed to figure out how to approach it from a, from a logistical standpoint, as far as the territory is concerned.
Edwin K. Morris (2m 16s):
So there’s a lot of pieces to this puzzle.
Cameron Cardinal (2m 18s):
Yeah. One would think of the most important pieces, again, the carrier mix and also to finding the right agencies. Of course.
Edwin K. Morris (2m 25s):
What was the hardest part of that?
Cameron Cardinal (2m 27s):
Well, I think there, you know, that we do have some challenges here just like every other coastal state, our location. And if you look at our state, it’s kind of broken off into two separate categories, Southern Louisiana, Northern Louisiana, the Southern part has some issues with what the coastal considerations and finding those right carriers who A) are already here and B) who may be willing to come here and kind of pick up some of that capacity in the state. So that was one of his biggest challenges and starting from zero with zero agencies, I think that was another challenge. And I guess finding the right person, me, of course
Edwin K. Morris (3m 2s):
Oh c’mon now, you’re the guy, right? I mean, you’re part of this mix, is that why you’re there?
Cameron Cardinal (3m 8s):
Yeah. Someone who actually had a good understanding of the entire state and had good relationships with these agents to come in and present the program certainly was what he was looking for.
Edwin K. Morris (3m 19s):
Yeah. Yeah. Well that leads me right into the next question. What’s your background? How’d you get there?
Cameron Cardinal (3m 26s):
My background and it goes back a few years. I have over 30 years experience in the insurance industry, starting back in 1988 and worked for a few major carriers, CNA, Aetna, Zurich, just to name a few. So I’ve been around a while and have developed some pretty good relationships with a lot of the agents around the state. So it was easy for me to approach these folks, not necessarily from a cold calling situation, but one from a past, you know, relationship, friendship type situation. So I’ve made that transition pretty, pretty easy to a find the right agents and be able to deliver that message to them from a trusted advisor type standpoint,
Edwin K. Morris (4m 5s):
What are the specific issues or challenges Louisiana faces that Iroquois was able to bridge to be able to connect to and answer to?
Cameron Cardinal (4m 13s):
That’s a good question. You know, the, the challenges that we face have been there for quite some time, again, we are a coastal state, just like many other coastal States and we have those issues with, with weather. And in addition to that, we also have some, you know, some legal climate issues, but I believe that in the past election that we just had, we sort of, you know, addressed some of that.
Edwin K. Morris (4m 36s):
Do, do any of the agencies you work with, do they need specialized assistance because of the, those type of issues?
Cameron Cardinal (4m 45s):
Well, yes and no. The fact that we will bring more and more competition to the market is going to help them in and of itself. One of the things, as you know, that Iroquois does bring to the table is the revenue piece and having our compensation structures and our, you know, increased commission pieces, certainly help those agencies, whether they’re smaller or larger, compete amongst all of them, because they can attract, you know, better producers pay their people more and just create overall agency value. So yeah, we help them in that aspect as well. And a company may need to take on a new carrier. We also help with that. So yeah, we are providing a good need or providing a service to these agencies who may need some assistance with market access.
Edwin K. Morris (5m 32s):
Do you predict a uptick in the membership accumulation in that state once these rules or laws change?
Cameron Cardinal (5m 39s):
Well, you know, we started here in 2016 with zero agencies and now we’re up to 37. So as important as, you know, the right carrier mix to this piece is also the right agency mix. So we’d rather go with, you know, some good quality agencies over a high quantity of agencies. So we’re being choosy about who we take in the program actually. Right. And I was actually looking the other day and we have quite a few who have over a hundred years of experience in the business with us. We have some of the most well-respected, oldest agencies in the state actually in our program now. And that lends credibility to what we’re trying to do.
Edwin K. Morris (6m 20s):
Absolutely. Well, congratulations. Yeah, that’s a big win. I mean, that seems to me to be a big win in such a really relatively short time.
Cameron Cardinal (6m 28s):
Exactly. When you can go into an agency and can tell them who else is in the program, it lends instant credibility to what we’re trying to do. And when they see it and it works and they get through the first year, you know, they are, they’re happy that they’re joining us.
Edwin K. Morris (6m 42s):
Let me just ask a wild question here. What’s the five years from now, what’s going to be like in this new environment as things change and for how you’re going to be working there.
Cameron Cardinal (6m 53s):
That’s a good question. I wish I could see that far into the future. Hopefully we make these reforms in our, in our legal system and it does clean up to a degree where we can have better competition because in that aspect, everybody wins, the carrier wins, the customer wins. And that’s what we’re looking for, and the folks here in Louisiana, the Big I and the PIA, they’ve certainly worked very hard in pushing this reform, you know, hopefully we see the benefits of that in the next couple of years.
Edwin K. Morris (7m 20s):
Well, thank you very much for your inviting us to share your story of Louisiana and how you’ve kind of set the flag up and, and things are growing.
Cameron Cardinal (7m 32s):
Yeah, you bet. I appreciate it.
Edwin K. Morris (7m 35s):
Thanks for listening to this edition of the trusted advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois group. Iroquois, your trusted advisor for all things insurance, and remember get out of the office and sell. I am Edwin K. Morris, and I invite you to join me for the next edition of the trusted advisor podcast.