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Why You Should Pursue an AFSB Designation: NASBP Members Weigh In

By Kathy Hoffman posted 06-05-2018 01:31 PM

institutes.jpgWhy You Should Pursue an AFSB Designation: NASBP Members Weigh In

Looking to turbocharge your surety career? The Institutes’ Associate in Fidelity and Surety Bonding (AFSB) designation may be just the ticket. Launched in 1991 through a strategic alliance between NASBP and the Institutes, the AFSB was designed to help surety professionals better serve their clients through professional education related to risk management and insurance. The Institutes is the leading insurance education provider for the risk management and property-casualty insurance industry.

Today, the partnership continues to provide opportunities for surety bond professionals to improve their skills. We caught up with three AFSB-certified bond producers to find out how the prestigious designation has benefited their careers, as well as what you should know before starting your own educational journey.

A Competitive Edge
Lawrence F. McMahon, Executive Vice President of Alliant Insurance Services, Inc. and former NASBP President, obtained his AFSB designation in 1992. He decided to pursue the designation as an opportunity to gain more education. “It is the only professional designation for the surety industry,” he said.

Jon Land, AFSB, MBA, Vice President and Surety Practice Leader at HUB International Colorado, earned his designation in the past year. “The intent was to make me more effective and a better advocate for our clients,” he said.

Ian Campbell, Bond Producer at Woodruff-Sawyer & Co., made the decision to pursue the designation in December 2017. “It was early on in my surety career and wanted to balance the lack of experience with solid industry knowledge,” he said. “The AFSB gave me the added information/expertise that I was lacking.”

Rusty Lear, Executive Vice President and Director of Surety at Flood & Peterson, said, “By obtaining the AFSB designation, we help invest in our own knowledge and ability to influence how our industry impacts others. This ultimately is an investment in the future of our industry and the surety product--its perception and value to the end user.”

A Comprehensive Curriculum
Professionals who obtain the AFSB find the coursework imparts lifelong lessons. “The AFSB is in many ways similar to a MBA,” Land said. “It’s not that it makes you a smarter person automatically, but it gives you a lot of resources to use to tackle complex issues in the future.”

Campbell said the AFSB curriculum provides just the right mix of subject matter. “You get a great sampling of financial statement analysis and a hefty portion of contract law within the program,” he said. “A strong understanding of finance and law are the basis for all surety and crucial to being a successful professional.”

For McMahon, the courses provided a solid foundation of timeless industry skills. “As a matter of fact, just yesterday someone asked me about indirect losses, incurred losses, and losses paid—and I took out the books from the CPCU Accounting Class,” he said. “So very relevant, even 25 plus years later.”

“The AFSB designation is a challenging curriculum, as it should be,” said Lear. “For me, achieving the designation was an accomplishment that I am proud of.”

Career Benefits
From a higher salary to better career opportunities, AFSB certification can make you that much more competitive in the job market, because it demonstrates you are willing to do what it takes to continuously improve. “Most people looking to get into a senior underwriting position need to have it – it’s a rite of passage,” Land said.
McMahon said the designation made him more well rounded. “Since I focus on contract surety, the other classes on commercial and fidelity come in handy when these come up,” he said. As an agent working with bond underwriters, Land shared a similar sentiment. “When they see you have that designation, it helps level the playing field.”

“The designation put me in the ‘club,’” Campbell added. “I feel like I can communicate more effectively with my underwriters on behalf of my clients. We are speaking the same ‘language,’ and this seems to smooth the negotiations and allow a general understanding of what each party is trying to accomplish.”

“It was a tremendous sense of accomplishment for me at the time,” Lear said, adding, “My children were young and I was relatively new in my position as a surety underwriter working for a great company. Attaining the AFSB designation was a way of cementing my commitment to an exciting industry that was still unveiling itself.”

What You Should Know
Considering pursuing your AFSB designation? “Absolutely do it,” Land said. “It will increase your expertise and show others that you’re interested in pursuing higher knowledge within the bonding industry.”

McMahon agreed: “The AFSB designation is necessary in the surety industry to show you are a professional in the surety and fidelity business.”

Overall, determination and dedication are key to success. “Don’t get discouraged through the process and quit,” Land advised. “Space courses out—don’t try to knock them all out within a year.”

“Similar to many of the designations offered by The Institutes, the AFSB designation is a badge of professional devotion to the study of suretyship,” Lear added.

To learn more about professional education and knowledge solutions related to risk management and insurance through new and established offerings, visit AFSB is a registered trademark of The Institutes. All rights reserved.