Risk management consultant specializes in helping protein producers navigate growth

July 26, 2018

This paid piece is sponsored by Howalt+McDowell Insurance, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company.

Meet Jennifer Ferris, one of the newest risk management consultants to join the team at Howalt+McDowell Insurance, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company. She has spent the past four years working as an insurance broker and previously practiced insurance defense litigation. To learn more, connect with her on LinkedIn or email her at jennifer.ferris@marshmma.com with your specific questions about managing your company’s risk.

Hometown: Charles City, Iowa

Education: Bachelor of Arts from Simpson College, double major in criminal justice and sociology; Juris Doctor from University of South Dakota

What attracted to you to Howalt+McDowell Insurance?

I was drawn to Howalt+McDowell’s values as an organization. Their focus is on taking care of clients, employees and community. It is fulfilling to be a part of an organization that listens to its clients’ needs and responds by developing solutions to holistically serve those needs better. As a Marsh & McLennan Agency — MMA — providing team members the tools and training to grow professionally and the resources needed to help current and future clients is a top priority.

 What is your favorite thing about working in insurance? 

Being an insurance broker is so much more than just “writing” a policy for a client. We have the daily opportunity — and responsibility — to learn about our clients: their success, challenges and growth areas. Only a certain portion of a company’s risk can be insured, so figuring out how to limit risk from all angles is important. I thrive on collaborating with businesses to help solve their problems. 

Describe your approach to working with clients.

We use a model called Accelerate that entails learning about the client and listening to their pain points to assess their unique issues to figure out what they want and need from their broker. This solutions-based approach enables us to tailor a risk management strategy that best suits a company’s strengths, weaknesses and risk appetite. I want to work as a partner with the client, not just as a consultant. I think Albert Einstein said it best: “Strive not to be a success, rather strive to be of value.”

How did you come to specialize in working with protein producers, and particularly, hogs and cattle? 

Growing up in rural Iowa, my involvement with 4-H and FFA catered to a love of animals. As I began my career as a risk management consultant, my roots drove me back to agriculture. I observed many protein producers had transitioned from being small mom-and-pop operations to large-scale businesses employing dozens of people. Like any other industry, protein producers and farmers need an advocate who understands and specializes in knowing the risks involved in their business. Seeing that these businesses were lacking a consultant to help them navigate the risks of growth inspired me to specialize in this space.

What are the major issues you see affecting businesses in the next few years?

Employment! By and large, employees who are willing to work hard and have a sense of pride for their work are difficult to recruit and retain. This is especially problematic in the agricultural world because a lot of people do not want to engage in physical labor. MMA has the resources and expertise to help find the right employees, and our consultants can help employers lower their total cost of risk from an insurance standpoint, so they have more dollars to recruit and retain those employees.

What’s a common misconception people have about insurance that you’d like to dispel? 

That it is boring. Every day is different and presents a different challenge. If you think you have a to-do list that you will get done, think again when you are in insurance!

Risk management consultant specializes in helping protein producers navigate growth

Meet Jennifer Ferris, one of the newest risk management consultants to join the team at Howalt+McDowell Insurance, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company.

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