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What to Measure Internally as an Insurance Agency

Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 in Business Thoughts | 0 comments

An effective control over the performance requires insurance companies to operate the organization divisions and subdivisions. Within each division or subdivision, there can be units responsible for separate activities. One satisfactory way of ensuring better performance of units is delegation of profit responsibility to units at the lowest possible level. Delegation of profit responsibility for a unit is possibility provided that the unit managers have information and control over the revenues and expenses. It may not be possible for all units to exercise control over several factors influencing profits. Expense budgets and setting well-defined objectives ensure cost control and effectiveness of the unit. Units are emphasized to control the cost of services they charge to the corporate office or the other units.

Financial, marketing and human resource polices of the corporations influence the unit mangers to make decisions that are in the best interest of the company. Output or performance of insurance company depends on the effectiveness of such policies. Insurance corporations formulate and revise the policies from time to time to ensure that the performance of the managers is in the best interest of the organization.
Success of an insurance company depends on four important functions:

(a) Identification of markets
Thorough analysis of the trends in various aspects of social and commercial settings functions to broaden the opportunities from time to time. Conducting surveys on risks and needs of individuals, organizations and associations helps to identify the insurance needs. Birth, education, family possessions, housing and death are common events of life and individuals face financial or emotional risk for one or more of these events. Decrease in family size over the past three decades has brought necessary changes in required needs and possessions.

(b) Assessment of risks (of the insured and the insurance corporation) and estimation of losses
Efficiency of actuaries and assessors of the insurance policies in fixing premiums and settling claims is foremost an important area for achieving overall efficiency in operations. The quality of assessing the risk and estimation of losses has the largest claim on the performance of an insurance company. Well trained, experienced and expert hands are needed for the operations.

(c) Penetration into and exploitation of markets
Market penetration or exploitation of a company can be identified with the growth in number of policies in each type of insurance, growth rate in earnings or turnover, company’s market share, increase in number of branches and divisions etc. Efforts of the company as a whole and that of the divisions and branches are assessed to measure the effectiveness.

(d) Control over investment and operating costs
Control over resources such as men, machines, and materials at each level of the organization provides measures of efficiency of a unit as well as the organization. Investment control and expense control are dealt separately and the effectiveness of management’s’ decisions at various levels is to be assessed separately.

The basic measures of performance are economic viability and sustainability. Once this is achieved, insurance company’s objectives may turn on long-run profitability, expansion and growth, market share and finally to diversification.

A+ American Casualty Insurance, a Central Florida insurance company recently went through a period where they restructured their areas of measure within their business. They have since weeded out unnecessary work that was wasting time within the business and have a better understanding of what is working for them and what needs to be improved upon.

Knowing What to Outsource in the Bank Supplier Industry

Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 in Business Thoughts | 0 comments

Outsourcing is the use of a third-party vendor to perform activities on a continuing basis that would normally be undertaken by the bank. The third party could be an affiliated entity within the bank’s corporate group or an entity external to the bank’s corporate group. Many minority and de novo bank officials have said that the selection and management of vendors has been more complicated and more costly than they expected. It is important to understand how to select vendors and how to mitigate associated risks.

How Banks Can Mitigate the Risks
The board of directors must maintain effective oversight and ensure that effective controls are in place. Management must maintain effective oversight but must also effectively manage any outsourcing relationships. At the start, management must be prepared to select a qualified vendor, manage and monitor the outsourcing agreement, ensure that controls are in place and validated independently, and ensure that a contingency plan is in place.

Steps a Bank Can Take to Properly Manage an Outsourcing Relationship
Managing an outsourcing relationship involves several key steps, including risk assessments, service provider selection, contract documentation, and ongoing monitoring. In the risk assessment, management will evaluate the capability of the service provider to provide the necessary level of service. The service provider selection process must allow time for bank management to evaluate proposals and present necessary information to executive management or the board of directors for review. The contract should clearly define the rights and responsibilities of both parties and contain adequate and measurable service level requirements. As part of ongoing monitoring, the bank should periodically evaluate the vendor’s compliance with service level expectations and conduct an annual performance evaluation. In addition, the bank should consider whether the financial condition of the vendor has changed and confirm that the disaster recovery plan is still adequate and updated to accommodate operational changes that may have occurred.

The bank should follow seven principles for outsourcing:

  1. Implement a comprehensive policy to guide the assessment of whether and how activities can be outsourced appropriately
  2. Establish a comprehensive outsourcing risk management program to address outsourced activities and relationships with service providers
  3. Ensure that outsourcing arrangements do not diminish the bank’s ability to fulfill obligations to customers or regulators
  4. Conduct appropriate due diligence in selecting third-party providers
  5. Ensure that outsourcing relationships are governed by written contracts
  6. Develop and maintain contingency plans, which should also provide for periodic testing of back-up facilities
  7. Take appropriate steps to require that service providers protect confidential information.

Outsourcing offers a number of appealing benefits to banks that need very specialized IT experience. However, decision makers should not enter the process lightly. IT outsourcing is not a quick fix. The success of an IT outsourcing relationship hinges on effective supplier management underpinned by a comprehensive governance framework that includes ongoing contract and financial scrutiny, operational performance monitoring, and value creation from technology innovation and service/cost improvements.

How Packaging Design Can Build Your Brand

Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 in Business Thoughts | 0 comments

Effective packaging can sell a brand when someone is looking for a specific type of product. It’s a powerful visual design element that needs to be a key ingredient in your marketing mix. It’s also essential to help you build your brand’s image and identity so that you truly stand out from the crowd.
An easily identifiable brand sets itself apart from the competition. Knowing what’s unique about your brand can give your product personality and create positive associations in the minds of your customers.

Brand recall is important – you want customers to look for and instantly identify your brand. Creative, attractive packaging with distinctive colors, materials and textures always make a product noticeable. Staying consistent with your brand identity across your different products can help build loyalty if the brand identity and packaging is eye catching.

Packaging design, also known as trade dress, is a vital part of building a recognizable brand. It’s a huge opportunity to positively impact your brand image. Unique packaging can:
• Add to your product name, slogan and logo – becoming a component of your trademark.
• Help build an identity for your brand.
• Play an important role in your product’s salability.
• Contribute to the marketability of your offering.
Brands can be conveyed in a split-second by the use of a signature color, a distinctive icon, imagery, or the contour of a product’s packaging. Some of the world’s largest brands are known for their innovative packaging.

For your custom liquid packaging, you should have a few other things in mind. First, you want to engage the buyers’ emotions. People may like to think that they’re rational, but buying decisions are heavily influenced by emotion. You want your packaging to make people ‘feel’ something, not think something.

Offer relief from visual noise. Sometimes it’s so easy to get carried away with creative packaging design that the final result is overly ornate or impractical. Consumers are bombarded with options, constantly over-stimulated by the packages of hundreds (sometimes thousands) of products on the shelves in front of them. Offering them a moment of visual calm with a simple design can boost your product big time and give your brand a reputation as a problem-solver — consumers won’t just keep buying your product, they’ll feel relief when they see it in the store.

Whether you’re a classic, modern, contemporary brand or Eco-friendly, or luxury brand; package design and development speaks the language of your brand identity. Here you can really communicate the true identity of your brand and attract your direct consumer.

Building a Moat Around Your Mystery Shopping Business

Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 in Business Thoughts | 0 comments

Building a moat around your Mystery Shopping business is a great way for people with spare time on their hands to make some extra cash. Assignment schedules are relatively flexible and many shopping trips allow people to take care of personal errands at the same time. But if you have greater ambitions, it is entirely possible to turn mystery shopping into a full-time job with a steady income. Once you start building relationships with providers and gathering more experience, it’s easy to start scheduling multiple assignments each week for months and years at a time.  Naturally, maintaining a full-time job as a mystery shopper requires hard work and a high level of commitment. Without sufficient planning, many people can find their workload to become overwhelming.  There’s no reason to be overwhelmed, though. Here are some strategies you can start using now in order to take full advantage of your potential.

Diversify-After a few trips, you might discover that you have a particular knack for conducting shops at certain stores. While you should definitely focus on these kinds of assignments, it’s important to keep a diverse schedule of many different kinds of assignments. Providers work with stores in a somewhat unpredictable fashion. Sometimes a company will back out of services for any given reason on short notice. Make sure you’re applying for jobs through a large variety of providers so you can have alternative options available when specific opportunities fall through.

Research – As you develop the mystery shopping experience, take note of how your providers work. When looking for future jobs, it’s nice to have an understanding of what is out there in terms of which providers are easiest or most pleasant to work with. Keeping up with online mystery shopping forums is another way to familiarize yourself with the best and worst of the industry.

Organize – While doing all of this research on the best providers, keep a running document of the information you come across. Plans in the mystery shopping industry are always subject to change. But when an assignment falls through, a list of some of the best providers can make it much easier to find the next shopping opportunity Plan Scheduling can be one of the trickiest aspects of mystery shopping. There are two ways providers generally schedule assignments. They can either let shoppers actively choose their own job schedules, or they might just choose the date and notify the shopper without any prior input. This last method can be pretty stressful, especially if your life revolves around having a tight schedule. Keeping a loose calendar, however, is an essential way to keep track of the dynamic assignment schedule