“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” — Albert Einstein
Objectivity: An idea whose time has come.
The insurance business has been around for over three centuries. And most clients have been paying commissions to insurance brokers ever since.
But in 1997, Altus was created to bring about a much-needed change in the insurance brokerage industry. And, in doing so, to give clients a different—and far better—choice.
As Altus founder and CEO Charlie Wilmerding saw it, the commission system created an inherent conflict of interest between what a client is trying to achieve and what a commission-driven broker is trying to achieve. When a broker’s compensation depends not on how well they serve you, but on how much they can sell you, can you rely on them to always put your best interests first? Will they be able to provide transparent advice and dispassionate counsel? Do you have full control of your insurance costs?
For Charlie, the answer was obvious: eliminate the conflict of interest by eliminating the commissions that create it. While larger companies had long possessed the clout to compel their brokers to forego commissions for flat fees, Altus was the first brokerage to do away with commissions for all corporate clients, regardless of size. Today, nearly 30 years later, we remain the only fully commission-free broker in the country.
Unfortunately, we can only apply our fee-based, no-commission model to corporate risk clients for now. Various rules and regulations prohibit us from extending it to private risk clients as well.
We’re working hard to change the rules and regulations. To disrupt “business as usual.” And to give all our clients—corporate and private alike—the leverage and power they’ve long deserved.
Finally free to act in every client’s best interest.
The immediate result of abandoning a commission-based model is to align the broker’s interests with the client—freeing us to act as true advisors, objective advocates for our clients and a provider of truly personalized services. Replacing commissions with flat fees pulls the curtain back on what has for too long been an opaque and often intimidating process that often left clients in the dark about how much or how little they had to spend on insurance.
Most important, it enables us to apply “The Power of Objectivity” to help our clients most cost-effectively manage their insurance and risk-related costs, without sacrificing coverage, and to select the brokerage services they want and need, regardless of how much insurance they buy. To know we are always there to provide information, advice, and unfettered access to insurance markets whenever they need it, and not just when yearly renewal time rolls around.
Many of our clients have told us that this approach to the business is refreshing and long overdue, providing a level of honesty and integrity that has been missing in the insurance business. They appreciate not only the transparency that it brings to the client-broker relationship, but also how it gives them power and leverage in a transaction they’ve never had before.
Without commissions influencing their judgement, brokers can negotiate rates more effectively on behalf of their clients, and constantly fine-tune coverage as their business or personal needs grow or change.
And when clients can choose a brokerage based on its capabilities, expertise and ability to serve their unique and individual needs, brokers everywhere will be motivated to further hone their skills and innovate new and better ways to serve their clients.
Altus starts every client relationship with a clean slate. Working with them to identify their risks, determining what coverage they are legally or contractually required to carry, and then designing and building a risk management program uniquely suited to their needs and budget without the fog of commission.
We are an open book to all our clients. If they have a question about a coverage, we’re happy to tell them everything they need to know about that coverage, whether they buy it or not. It’s not just in the insurance business, but in any financial service business—the more objective professional providers can be, and the more closely they can align their interests with their clients, the more value they can provide.
That’s why the power of objectivity is so impactful. And a transformation of how insurance is purchased and risk is managed that’s long been overdue—for centuries.