Sunday, April 21, 2024

It’s a family affair

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FROM A VERY young age Marlon and Randy Graham were au fait with the workings of the insurance industry.
Born to a mother who worked for an insurance company, Marlon believes it was a foregone conclusion that the two brothers would themselves make a mark in the field.
Today, Marlon is the general manager of Insurance Management and Professional Services (IMPS) Ltd, of which his mother Maureen Graham is the managing director.
Randy, who previously held the post of general manager, is currently the director of insurance and pensions at the Financial Services Commission.
 “A lot of our conversations around  the table ended up being about insurance  on some level so it was something we always knew,” Marlon told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY during a recent interview at the company’s Hart’s Gap,  St Michael office.
Both brothers have bachelor’s degrees in insurance and master’s degrees in risk management and  Marlon was responsible  for setting up Sagicor General Insurance’s risk management department back in 2005.
Maureen said  Marlon’s decision to join the company gave her a sense of security.
“I am aware of the fact that in many cases children do not join  family businesses with a desire to propel the business to the next stage.
“I am very blessed to have Marlon join us on his own initiative with the experience and knowledge necessary to make IMPS  a forerunner in providing service to our clients,”  she said.
The head of the 27-year-old insurance brokerage firm said she was in a “semi-retirement mode” and with Marlon taking responsibility for the day-to-day operations and the development of risk management programmes, she was hopeful that the company would soon develop a product focusing on the risk management needs of all its clients.
“We have been around for more than a quarter century and we believe that the time has come for IMPS to re-brand as prepare ourselves for the next quarter century,” she said of the company which employs eight people.
Maureen conceded that running a business was not easy, especially when the product is intangible.
“Insurance broking is relatively new to Barbados and it is still to realize its full potential.
“Some persons still view the service as that of an agent but I am one to argue that a broker’s responsibility goes way beyond that,” she said.
Although Marlon agreed that the role of the broker was not fully understood locally, he suggested that he could bring a unique perspective to IMPS.
 “I would’ve tasted all the different ends of the broker/insurance company relationship so I have a better idea as to what both sides are going through,” he said, noting that he also wants to make risk management services more widely available.
Interestingly, it was not just insurance that brought the former student of Combermere School back to Barbados after completing his studies at St John’s University, New York.
“I wanted to play cricket so I did work for one year in Washington DC after I completed my studies and then it was just too cold, too miserable in the  winter and no cricket  was being played.
“It was always a dream of mine to come back and play for Barbados which I did in 2010,” he said.
Marlon said separating personal and professional roles was the hardest part of being involved in a family business.
“Once you live with somebody all your life and then you have to come to work with them . . .  you have to learn to put down the son hat once you come through the door and be the general manager.
“Once they’re in here and you’re dealing with businesses and people’s finances . . . you have to take them on as directors, as managers or as whatever their position is in the company,” he said.
He also listed a benefit.
“You can actually predict what it is that they will do. Even though you might get it wrong sometimes, 90 per cent of the time you don’t,”  he said.
Meanwhile, Maureen noted that it was “gratifying” to be  her own boss.
“Your interaction with the business world is different. You have flexibility in planning  your work days; your accountability is  to your clients and  your responsibility  to your employees.
“The challenges can be disturbing at times but you must remain focused and trust God,” she said.

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