By Daniel Coats, California Business Journal
When corporate customers look for insurance or retirement providers, their search is typically limited to negotiating with a few local brokers and underwriters. But thanks to the cutting-edge high-tech global databases of CMR & Associates, today’s clients have cost-effective and no-pressure access to more than 12,000 brokers in 120 countries.
Based on Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, CMR and its innovative approach is following in the footsteps of Amazon, leading a quiet transformation of these industries while providing efficient and economical solutions.
“Most people look at local data, but we look at national and international information compiled in our proprietary database,” says founder and CEO Christopher Roche, who launched the firm in 1999. “Anyone in the world can quickly, confidentially and anonymously benchmark their portfolio and receive comparative price points.”
Developed through Roche’s experiences – both positive and negative – as a broker with insurance and risk management giant Marsh Inc., The CMR Database® provides access to insurance brokers based on such variables as industry classification codes, employee group sizes and assets under management.
Expanding the horizons of brokers was a key lesson that Roche learned while serving Marsh. “I observed that, if for example, you’re in Dallas, a broker will go to several insurance companies in Dallas, and will do their best to provide a proposal, which is usually the extent of the access to the industry,” says Roche, noting that this condition resulted in large disparities in insurance cost and quality from region to region. “I developed a way to expand that paradigm and create better options.”
Using PolicySmart®, a simple and efficient electronic platform comparable to Amazon or other cutting-edge web interfaces, clients are asked a few questions and upload documents through CMR’s secure and encrypted site, leading to a national and international benchmarking report in only a few clicks.
“We aren’t selling a product, so our clients do not have to contend with salespeople coming to their offices, and existing broker vendors need not be disturbed, using the benefit of our intellectual capital. We are paid just for effectuating a positive result by our client,” Roche says.
Insurance and retirement savings – and verifying program design — is a goal of most businesses and CMR has delivered. When examining savings over a three-year period, users of the database have experienced a 10% to 40% decrease in Property/Casualty costs; a 5% to 15% reduction in Group Benefit fees, including medical insurance; and a 10% to 30% cut in the cost of vendors, administrators, custodial and advisory relationships who handle corporate-sponsored retirement plans. To date, CMR has saved clients at least $120 million in industry overcharges.
CMR clients include companies of all sizes and industry sectors, from small enterprises to corporations with upwards of $2 billion+ in revenue. Some of its larger clients include firms in private equity, home health care services, car leasing, telecommunications and hospitals. With increasing interest in digital solutions to business needs, the future is bright for CMR.
“We can grow two ways: one is by adding people to our professional salesforce, which is what we call the concierge approach, when CFOs or business owners desire the personal touch,” Roche says. “The second is directing visitors to our website, who can skip the interview and provide their information on our secure platform using electronic pre-fill and straight-through-processing.”
The traditional model of finding insurance brokers may still be the norm, but Roche says change is in the air as organizations seek to digitize more aspects of their operations, including insurance.
“Business owners and CFOs who are not flocking but are gradually moving toward electronic purchasing models, similar to what Amazon offers with consumer products, will be a slow- to rapidly-increasing user rate for people who find a service like ours more attractive than a traditional delivery service,” he says.
Looking to the future, Roche sees artificial intelligence and search engine optimization as frontiers for CMR. This will include optimized descriptions and tags that will assist internet users seeking insurance solutions in getting connected with the best broker and industry experts for their needs.
CMR offers the advantages of efficiency and adaptability that larger firms are unable to provide. Roche says his workforce is comprised of entrepreneurially-minded professionals with sales skills, technical abilities, administrative talents and IT maintenance acumen. Growth is on the horizon here as well, with plans for an expanded workforce and physical presence.
“I envision having a central location and a cloud-based back-end system that will expand upon our successes,” Roche says. “By adding new sales professionals to larger U.S. cities and international cities, we will be poised to handle both concierge-based client relationships along with those who prefer electronic options.”
Founder and CEO
CMR & Associates
445 Park Avenue, 9th floor, New York, NY 10022