The Markel Style

Markel

1. No Poverty 7. Affordable and Clean Energy 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Overview

The Markel Style is embedded into Markel’s culture. It is a set of guiding principles that affect how Markel does business and supports their local communities. The Markel Style combines innovation and creativity at the heart of Markel’s operations and pushes Markel employees to put actions behind their words. Essentially a vision statement, the Markel Style has led Markel to become the insurance industry leader that they are today.

Authors

Naomi O’Selmo

Naomi O’Selmo

Ainsley Sonnier

Ainsley Sonnier

Sean Seedharie

Sean Seedharie

School

St. John's University

St. John's University

Professor

Charles Wankel

Charles Wankel

Innovation

As a specialty insurance company with a wide range of insurance products, Markel is committed to its shareholders and the communities that they serve. Markel’s business innovation is called Markel Style. John explains, “The Markel Style is really what I typically would refer people to is more or less a vision statement. Many companies will have what they call a vision statement and it’s used as kind of a way to guide where a company wants to be at some point. Here at Markel, we call it the Markel Style.” John also mentioned the many key components to the Markel Style which include a commitment to success, honesty and fairness, being a market leader, returning shareholder value, flexibility, disdain for bureaucracy, respecting their relationships with suppliers and the communities that they work in and are committed to, hard work, the pursuit of excellence, challenging the status quo, and keeping a sense of humor to keep humanity in business. John said that although many companies have vision statements, it is different for Markel. Many places will talk about their vision statements that eventually get pushed aside, whereas Markel uses The Markel Style to guide business decisions. He states, “It’s kind of like a north star for us when we’re making business decisions or internal decisions as well as external decisions.”

The Markel Style was created in 1986 to memorialize how Markel operates and treats others, internally and externally. The company’s current Executive Chairman, Alan Kirshner, is one of the original authors of the Markel Style.

Markel’s mission statement is, “We seek to deliver innovative products and responsive customer service so that we can be a market leader. Our time horizon is long-term, our underwriting approach is disciplined, and our focus is on continuously improving the quality of the customer experience.” The Markel Style relates to the mission because it is all about how they interact with their partners. Markel works with brokers that help place business with insureds and they also work with the insured's themselves. John explains that Markel is there to pick up the pieces and help their insureds get back on their feet when tragedy strikes. Aside from the basic promise of insurers to their insureds to pay claims when people need them, Markel goes above and beyond in their local community. John mentioned a recent opportunity that he and other Markel employees had to work with an organization called the Drake House that supports homeless mothers. This opportunity came from the relationship that John and other Markel employees have with their brokers. John said that Markel was more than happy to provide the Drake House with resources and funding. This is just one example of how Markel gets involved in the community aside from providing insurance to support causes that make the communities they live in better for everyone.

It is clear that Markel is committed to their mission and the Markel Style. Innovation and creativity are at the heart of their business. They strive to provide the best products and services to their clients, a direct result of the innovation of the Markel Style. John says, “We really like what we’re doing and it closes the excitement that we have in innovating, creating, and striving for a better way and success with others.”

The Markel Style

Inspiration

The Markel style is a unique identifier in the insurance world. Markel has a long-standing history dating back to 1930. The Markel style, created in 1986, has allowed the organization to continually expand operations and break boundaries in the insurance industry. The Markel style was originally created from the company’s overall vision statement and has progressed into a work culture. Many companies implement a vision statement to guide the organization in the pursuit of their overall goals, but most companies do not align with their vision statements. In the interview, John states that “The Markel style is consistently used as a guiding principle when making business, internal and external decisions.” The vision statement has transformed so much over time and has become a work culture.

Markel recognized that its greatest asset is the Markel style, which is to be honest, share success, honor commitment and empower people to reach their full potential. The motivation for the Markel style stemmed from Markel’s desire to be a market leader in the insurance industry. Markel has realized that creating an excellent work culture, one that empowers employees leads to great success. Markel’s focus on doing the right thing and helping others has led to their efforts in donating to the needy, focusing on communities and helping insureds in need.

Overall impact

The Markel Style inspires and challenges Markel to be honest and fair in all of their dealings, to share success with others, to honor their commitment to their communities, and to empower people to reach their full potential. All of these are things that impact the business, society, and the environment positively. The impact of the Markel Style on the business covers three main areas: profit, employee return on investment, and customer satisfaction. Because of the Markel Style and the focus on creating a desirable workplace culture, their employees work harder to push the company to success. This enables them to provide the best customer service and ensure their customers are receiving the best quality of work. Both of these lead to profit gained for the company in the long run.

When it comes to society, the Markel Style encourages the company to provide insurance support and other donations to their local community and those most in need. They implemented a grant review community that focused on three corporate giving areas (community needs, individual needs, and environmental resiliency) then chose where the company’s charitable donations would go. For example, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Markel contributed a significant amount to community recovery and relief efforts, including $200,000 to ChildSavers for remote mental health therapy, $100,000 to the Community Foundation for COVID relief to small businesses in Richmond, Virginia, $88,390 to Feeding America through Markel’s online Brokers Campaign for food access, and so much more.

In addition to their contributions, in 2020 they launched the Markel Racial Justice Fundraising Campaign which aims to increase racial equity. Their employees were given the chance to receive an automatic Markel match for donations to the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Equal Justice Initiative, and the National Urban League. These acts of kindness are the optimum of what the Markel Style stands for.

Their impact on the environment is important because they created a renewable energy department which aims to develop a variety of renewable energy products to support the industry internationally and to support the growth of the industry and insure them from the unknown. This is important because renewable energy provides reliable power supplies and fuel diversification- something our environment desperately needs.

In the short term, there was immediate relief to the people of the community being impacted by racial injustice and the COVID-19 pandemic. Their employees and customers were satisfied with their experience with the company and there were profits. In the long term, they will have significant employee retention, as they have had, because of the impact the Markel Style has on them. For the same reason, they will be able to retain loyal customers who see first hand how important the Markel Style was for their experience.

Business benefit

Markel’s effort to prioritize doing the right thing has created an excellent work culture. As John mentioned in the interview, “The employees at Markel are second to none and actually care about each other, which has led to success in the overall organization.” The work culture of caring about employees has translated to all aspects of the organization, and specifically how Markel serves the insured and the communities. The Markel Style has benefited the business significantly and allowed the organization to become a fortune 500 company. Markel is often called the “Baby Berkshire'' as it is compared to Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet's insurance company, which is synonymous for performing well.

Markel is focused on prioritizing growth in multiple aspects, mostly through new business written, and has adopted the “10-5-1” philosophy. Markel aspires to grow to $10 billion of annual insurance premium in 5 years, earning $1 billion of annual underwriting profit. Markel continues to provide quality service to the insured by building key relationships between brokers and the insureds. However, Markel is successful in non-monetary areas as well, such as being helpful to the communities and being responsible to help insured in need. Markel is on track toward the 10-5-1 goal and is making great strides toward accomplishing it. Ultimately, Markel has demonstrated that operating with integrity and highlighting employees will lead to great success for the overall business.

Social and environmental benefit

Markel has made social and environmental goals a focal point of the overall organization. The Markel style has allowed the company to generate great profitability and be able to make donations and focus on the mitigation of future environmental problems. As stated in the interview, John mentioned that he recently attended an event where Markel made a charitable donation to The Drake house, an organization that supports homeless mothers. To further, Markel increased its historic levels of community giving throughout 2020. In 2020, Markel donated $4.5 million to 750 charitable organizations. Similarly, Markel received an A rating from Standard & Poor's and Moody's, ensuring that the company is financially sound and will continue to help insureds in need. As one of the leading insurance companies it is essential that Markel remains in great financial health to assist insureds when catastrophes and disasters strike.

In regards to environmental benefits, Markel has been supporting renewable energy for over ten years. Markel aims to become a leader by developing a variety of innovative renewable energy products to support the industry internationally, and is investing into renewable energy projects to lower carbon dioxide emissions, and is excited to be working toward a solution. Overall, Markel has taken great strides to aid in the development of communities and the environment.

Interview

John Lecci, Senior Director

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Markel

Markel

Richmond, US

Business Website: https://www.markel.com/

Year Founded: 1930

Number of Employees: 10000+

Markel Corporation is a Fortune 500 corporation that provides speciality insurance to small business owners, powersports, events and much more. They underwrite innovative property and casualty solutions for both standard and hard-to-place risks. Their associates represent the Markel Style in their daily work, and their customers are always at the center of everything they do.