By CALLIE DANIELS BRYANT
Eighteen years ago, Scott Woods expected he would be president and chief executive of the Dan Bottrell Agency in Jackson for six months after the Trustmark Bank acquired the company in 1999. What he did not know was that he’d still be leading the now-expanded Fisher Brown Bottrell insurance agency in 2018.
“I was sent over to the agency in January of 2000 to help integrate the agency into the bank. It was supposed to be a six-month project and I have been there ever since,” Woods said.
A quick glance at his life shows how unexpected his journey was.
He was born in Michigan to a Mississippian father whose jobs moved the family around the United States. In 1960s, Woods’ family settled for good in Mississippi. He then earned a bachelor’s in business administration from Vanderbilt Unitversity and a law degree from the University of Mississippi.
“I practiced law for close to 10 years and then joined Trustmark Bank in 2000,” Woods said.
Woods recalls that the first changes he made as the CEO were in the areas of perpetuation of team members and in the use of technology.
“Like many insurance companies and agencies, we had not taken all the necessary steps to perpetuate ourselves before I joined the Agency and the technology was, back then, very rudimentary at best,” he said. “We have taken steps to better perpetuate our team by bringing in new members as opportunity presents itself. Our technology is allowing us to be out of the office and in front of clients even more. I think all of this creates a better client experience and allows us to help them manage their risks more effectively.
While he admits that he hasn’t had time to think about goals before his retirement, he is proud of his employees at Fisher Brown Bottrell. He credits the 18 years of growth under his leadership to “an experienced, professional team.”
“It’s the genuine interest that each of them takes when working with a client or even a prospect that really makes our agency stand out.”
Fisher Brown Bottrell is one of the largest bank-owned insurance agencies in the United States with three Mississippi offices in Jackson, Tupelo and Hattiesburg as well as three Florida offices in Pensacola, Destin and Panama City.
The insurance company offers numerous products from business insurance and employee benefits to construction and bonding solutions to personal insurance. It also provides services such as claims and losses, workers’ compensation and risk management.
This year, Woods said he wants to grow the company’s “market footprint where possible and also continue to work with our clients to meet and exceed their risk management needs.”
Woods describes the state of insurance business in Mississippi today as “evolving.”
He sees risks today from drones to cyber crime to increased weather events on a scale that insurance has not dealt with before.
“All of those risks have to be managed and in many cases, it goes beyond just finding an insurance policy to try and cover against a loss. In order to try and prevent loss or injuries, it’s not enough to just buy a policy anymore; business owners and consumers have to look at ways accidents or a loss might happen and actively work to protect themselves. For example, an insurance policy to cover a computer intrusion isn’t much help if you never do software updates or have anti-virus software that’s not up to date.”
As the landscape changes Woods said the insurance business can be rewarding to those looking for rewarding careers.
“The insurance business can be a great career but I don’t think that the industry has historically done a very good job at telling its story,” Woods said.
“There is a lot of opportunity in the field if someone is willing to get a solid working knowledge of the various types of coverage that are available as well as what active things can be done to keep losses from happening,” Woods said.
The best advice he ever had was “listen more, talk less,” which he believes can be applied to insurance companies and agencies.
“If you really want to help a client make sure you understand their particular situation and seek solutions that truly address what they need,” he said.
He also encourages potential customers to actively use their insurance agents and ask questions. “Cheapest is not always best – you need to read and understand what your insurance policies cover or don’t cover.”
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