Building a people-powered, tech-enabled business

[] Building a people-powered, tech-enabled business | Insurance Business America

by Karen Atienza 09 Feb 2023

Building a people-powered, tech-enabled business | Insurance Business America

Building a people-powered, tech-enabled business

Curtis Barton entered the insurance industry after college in 1996, thinking he would stay for two years just to please his father, an insurance executive. This traditional path would lead to a fulfilling 24-year career and the creation of his own company, Alkeme Insurance Services. Driven by the purpose of “shaping the future of insurance one partner at a time,” Alkeme’s chief executive has been named one of Insurance Business America’s Hot 100 for 2022.

In this conversation with Insurance Business, Barton said “timing is everything” when it comes to setting up an enterprise. Alkeme was formed in 2020 – in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic – through the merger of seven agencies run by Barton’s friends. The consolidation made sense as the businesses had a combined revenue of around $32 million. Alkeme has since become one of the fastest-growing consolidated entities in the US insurance industry, and it supports the growth of other brokerages through acquisition, optimization, and scaling.

Barton defines Alkeme as a “people business” that delivers an improved customer service platform by using technology.

“There’s been a lot of pressure points on the business from technology, and that’s fallen off lately because of certain pressures in the market. But really, we use tech to optimize our business,” he said. “[W]e’re shaping the business using tech around the edges, but really understanding that, at the middle, it’s people-driven and people-powered.”

Regarding acquisitions, Barton “[looks] for pieces of a puzzle that fit together”. He is developing his company by “adding people that provide a significant opportunity for other stakeholders to cross-sell, to work together with, and to ultimately provide a better customer service perspective”.

Barton expects the next five years to be a period of opportunity and challenge for insurance brokers in terms of strengthening relationships and operating at a greater scale.

“If you don’t have scale in the business, you’re going to have a hard time attracting talent, you’re going to have a hard time building a business,” he said, explaining that “running a lifestyle business” is not the same as creating wealth.

“You’ve got to take whatever money you’re generating on the lifestyle side and you’ve got to invest it outside of insurance to create wealth. And so our [value] proposition, if you will, is [to] de-risk your business. Take your lifestyle business and move it into a wealth creation vehicle. And that is all done through scale.”

Barton points out that scaling brings opportunities to increase employees’ wellbeing and happiness and improve the quality of products delivered to consumers.

Watch the full interview here

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