President's Message


The Surety Professional's Role In Our Industry's Future 

What a year! Who would have thought at this time last year that Donald Trump would be the President of the U.S. or that SureTec would be sold to Markel? While I was asking myself quite a few questions at that time, neither of these unexpected changes were on my radar and probably not on most of yours either. Two clear examples of how you just never know what will happen down the road.

Admittedly, my concerns last year in April were self-centered, although they were masked with my desire to do my best as your President in the coming year.

Some of my anxieties and questions were:
1. How will I ever write six Pipeline articles?
2, How does NASBP enhance the current 5-15 Leadership Committee program and involve the SFAA's Young Leaders in a meaningful and effective manner?
3, What message should I be delivering to the NASBP membership other than, "Let's Party!"?
4. And last, but not least, what actions need to take place to ensure surety remains relevant in our ever-changing economic environment? Wouldn't it be wonderful if more people wanted a bond rather than wanted to negotiate it out of the scope? How does the industry improve its messaging and communication to facilitate a positive response to the concept of a bond requirement or claim?  

I am one week away from turning the reins over to NASBP First Vice President Howard Cowan. Having spent many a sleepless night thinking about the past, present, and future of commercial and contract surety, I believe I’ve developed some perspective; and I’d like to share some of it with you.

  1. While writer's block is my constant friend, the Pipeline articles were completed; and staff was kind enough to edit them.

  2. The 5-15 Leadership Committee is evolving on its own. The good news is that the group has grown in size to over 50 people. The bad news is that some colleagues did not embrace the responsibilities of membership. A task force comprised of six people revisited the structure and the expectations for members. This resulted in a well thought-out plan that includes an “internship” period, member participation, and individual personal development. Two years ago NASBP held an executive leadership training conference, which was sponsored by Chubb and Rick Ciullo and was very well-received. NASBP is entertaining delivering more educational programs geared to leadership and management to fulfill a need for career development both for agents and underwriters. 
  1. As an industry, we need to communicate with each other, our clients, and our claimants. NASBP made a first-pass at doing just this by creating and distributing a survey to project owners, general contractors, and subcontractors. The results were used as the basis for the President's Task Forces that were held in November and where member, affiliate, and associate industry leaders assembled to openly discuss some industry issues, generating a refreshing and enlightening discussion. It is my hope that this was only a beginning and the lines of communication will continue to unlock. 
  1. Remaining relevant as a business or a product is a challenge regardless of the period in history. For us and surety to do so, we must understand the current landscape of the industries and people we serve. Looking into the future could be considered a game but preparing for it seems to be a constant challenge. Perhaps some answers will be revealed during the 2017 Annual Meeting presentations that include phenomenal presenters and thought-leaders who will discuss and explore the evolution of the construction industry, disruption, and innovation in business, as well the potential effects on us, our product, and clients.

Our industry and association enjoy a rich history and have faced many similar challenges. The future of contract surety will look different due to the evolution of the construction environment we support. Regarding the commercial side, the economics of the product have changed. Both of these trends are a result of customer expectations.

How will these changes in the future impact our daily lives? What skills do surety professionals need to assist their clients in an ever-changing environment and to help them grow their own agencies? My sense is that these answers will, as in the past, come from the NASBP membership and leadership, along with staff, developing programs that make sense at the time. NASBP will continue to evolve with the goal of meeting the needs of the NASBP membership. With more members, affiliates, and associates than we have had in years, we plan to continue our professional education, advocacy, and networking activities.  

NASBP’s Virtual Seminars that are presented by professionals, many of whom serve on our Attorney Advisory and CPA Councils, address a wide variety of current topics. The Professional Development Committee continually updates the Surety School curriculum and brings in new talent to teach. Online offerings have increased with the addition of a new joint venture primer that will be available this summer.

The NASBP membership can support NASBP advocacy efforts by joining us for the NASBP Legislative Fly-in June 6 and 7. New this year for the Fly-in, NASBP will hold its first “Family Program” and a roundtable panel of key policymakers providing insight into the much anticipated large infrastructure spending package. Click here to read the article in this issue with more information. As surety professionals, it is our responsibility to advocate for our product and explain that "Surety is Smart Business." The Fly-in is an opportunity to use our talents to tell others about our favorite aspect of our business.

Now back to the celebration! If you are registered for the 2107 NASBP Annual Meeting & Expo in Boca Raton, you will receive the 75th Anniversary Commemorative Booklet, a keepsake of our rich history and memories. We have the entire year of 2017 to celebrate, and we plan to share the video and tour through NASBP's history at the Regional Meetings. 

And last, but not least, a shout out and huge THANK YOU to NASBP staff, the Executive Committee, Board of Directors, committee members and each volunteer past and present, who gave a piece of themselves over the years to make NASBP the exceptional organization it is today and for laying the framework for its phenomenal future! It has been my honor to serve as your President and to experience the camaraderie and respect from my colleagues who love the surety business.

 Lynne W. Cook is Senior Vice President at Early, Cassidy & Schilling, Inc. in Rockville, MD. She can be reached at cooklw@ecsinsure.com.