Dan Kelly (BBA ’84, MBA) visited the Wisconsin School of Business to lead a case study in RMI 700, Principles of Risk Management. The topic of this case study was American Family Insurance (AFI). As CFO of AFI, Mr. Kelly was in the perfect position to review the company’s history, and analyze current challenges and opportunities. The case focused on the relatively recent acquisitions by AFI of two insurers, The General and Homesite. Both of these entities offer AFI new markets and new distribution channels.
Given my background in insurance distribution and my interest in the effects new technologies will have on insurance sales, I was particularly interested in Mr. Kelly’s discussion of the role of AFI’s captive agency force in moving the organization forward. With the evolution of technology and change of customers’ needs, direct channels such as online and telemarketing are booming and will contribute increasingly to insurers’ premium revenue. Dealing with the relationship between direct and indirect distribution channels, just as what AFI has been doing, is essential to future success.
Mr. Kelly also talked about alliances with non-insurance organizations. The expansion of players in the property and liability insurance industry to entities who previously had not been involved (such as Google and Amazon), poses both threats and opportunities for established firms such a AFI. Our discussion made abundantly clear that every insurer today must consider the effects of technology on the industry and take advantage of the opportunities it presents.
As a first year MBA student, the discussion of the AFI case and the ability to interact with AFI’s CFO Dan Kelly to discuss the strategic thought process, implementation, and evaluation of these corporate changes is an unparalleled opportunity. This sort of applied learning is a differentiator for the Wisconsin MBA.