Women in Insurance: Susan Hatten, COO, BrokerTech Ventures

Women in Insurance - September 24 2020

In this interview series, we profile women who are shaping the future of insurance. This week, we’re pleased to profile Susan Hatten, Chief Operating Officer, BrokerTech Ventures, the insurance industry’s first broker-led convening platform and accelerator program, and Senior Manager, Corporate Community Engagement at Holmes Murphy.

Susan, tell us about your path to insurance. What attracted you to the profession?

I certainly found my way to the insurance industry in an unconventional manner. Prior to joining Holmes Murphy in 2014, I led Business Development for a Marketing Communications & Advertising Agency for nearly a decade. I considered the opportunity in joining Holmes Murphy as a challenge in terms of learning a new industry, vernacular, and being able to bring a new lens to the world of insurance, which seemed desperately in need of an infusion of creativity and innovation.

Holmes Murphy has allowed me the opportunity to release my creative spirit and to apply it to the retail brokerage and insurance profession, in an entirely new way. I could have never imagined my path to Holmes Murphy would have opened the door to being a part of the team which created, deployed and is building the industry-changing company in BrokerTech Ventures. I feel very lucky, indeed.

Founded in 2019, BrokerTech Ventures is made up of over a dozen regional, privately held insurance brokerage firms. You’ve said that its vision is “to represent the voice of the broker through the lens of innovation.” Can you tell us a bit about BrokerTech Ventures and your plans to help drive innovation in insurance?

BrokerTech Ventures is the convening platform of broker-centric innovation, ideation, investment and communication, for the broader insurance ecosystem. We prescribe to the infinite game philosophy, where competition can join together in the spirit of partnership to help us all go further, faster.

We have bold aspirations for growth, as we build the leading broker-centric insurtech platform to harness and drive innovation for the bettering of our industry. By bringing together forward-leaning insurance brokers, the most innovative insurance companies and wholesalers, and the leading insurtech entrepreneurs in the world, we have a powerful opportunity to change our industry.

It’s been said that insurance is virtually recession-proof, but the same can’t be said for Insurtech startups. Can you discuss the impact COVID-19 is having on insurtech funding?

We recently sat down with representatives from the VC space ranging from Silicon Valley to New York, and the sentiments shared were quite positive around their position around insurtech investments and funding. We believe that those investors who have a strong appetite for insurtech and fintech investments still continue to think boldly about the opportunities for insurtech solutions.

Speaking from a BrokerTech Ventures perspective, we’ve never seen more activity around our Early-Stage Investment and Capital Towers of business operation. Some of the greatest innovations and technology ideas have been birthed out of recession periods – the light bulb, Microsoft, and Airbnb, to name a few. We see COVID-19 as perhaps another example of this extraordinary time in history.

The insurance industry is in the midst of a massive digital pivot. If you had to pick one technology trend that will fundamentally transform insurance over the next 5-10 years, what would it be?

While I don’t ever see a day where one single technology application replaces the myriad of insurance technology platforms that are necessary to run our agencies (Agency Management Systems), I do see a day where technologists band together to create a seamless integrated solution for the broker and carrier channel. Our industry has been incredibly anemic in terms of technology adoption and is craving efficiency through innovation.

According to a 2017 study, just 12 percent of insurance companies’ top corporate officers are women. Why do you think there are so few women in senior leadership roles in the insurance industry, and how can be done to promote greater equity and diversity?

It certainly is no secret that the insurance industry lacks diversity – and not simply diversity of gender. Insurance dates back to the early 18th Century and, not too dissimilar to the financial, construction or manufacturing industries, senior leaders and executives all seemed to look and sound the same.

I believe that to achieve greatest potential, you surround yourself with those who bring diversity to the table. Diversity of gender, race, age, upbringing, thought leadership, and so much more.

I am encouraged by what I am seeing take place in our industry, and while we have much work to do, we are moving the needle. Your simple request for this Women in Insurance interview is a step in the right direction.

What advice would you give the next generation of women considering a career in insurance?

“Never be afraid to be the only pink house on the block.”

This was one of the greatest pieces of advice and compliment received by one of my closest mentors. This statement was around harnessing my personal brand and unique abilities, skills, and talents to advance my career. Take advantage and seize the opportunity to be among those who seek to change the insurance industry by bringing creativity, innovation, and diversity of thought to the table. You don’t have to wear a navy-blue plaid blazer to be a champion of change and a trail-blazing force for women in the insurance profession – or any profession, for that matter.

Susan Hatten Head Shot RedSusan Hatten is chief operating officer of BrokerTech Ventures and oversees corporate and community engagement at Holmes Murphy. Prior to joining Holmes Murphy, Hatten led business development for a marketing communications and advertising agency for more than a decade. She dedicates much time to community involvement through fundraising and volunteering for several organizations. She is immediate past president of the Variety – The Children's Charity of Iowa and serves on the ChildServe board of trustees and on the United Way of Central Iowa Tocqueville Society. Susan is active in Holmes Murphy's Women Optimizing Women (WOW), Lead Like A Lady, and Million Women Mentors. Hatten was named the 2017 Meredith Corp. Emerging Business Woman of the Year and a member of the 2011 Forty Under 40 class by the Business Record, dmJuice Young Professional of the Year, Variety's International Ambassador in 2012 and the Downtown Des Moines Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year in 2012, among others. Hatten is a graduate of Iowa State University. Contact her via email.

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