Matt Harrell would like to clear up some misconceptions about insurance, especially the high-stakes, big money variety in which he trades.
“I can’t give you hard statistics, but there’s probably more money that flows in and out of the insurance industry than any other industry,” he says. “The whole concept is that [insurance companies] collect money and hold it for claims that they might have to pay out in the future. But once you’re holding that premium money and don’t have to pay it out, what do you do with it? You invest it into the stock market, real estate market, bonds, etc. And so trillions of dollars are being held in real estate and stocks and if you turn that off it would have a tremendous effect on economy.
Adds Harrell: “There’s a very good reason Warren Buffett is so heavily invested in insurance companies.”
Harrell says he and the team of 10 he manages at Franklin Street Insurance Services deal with companies that routinely pay in excess of $1 million in premiums. So the stakes are high.
“There’s a lot of risk management strategy that has to be taken into consideration,” he says. “You have to be very creative in how you come up with plan structures and in how you transfer risk.”
Harrell, a Florida State grad, says insurance wasn’t his original career track. That would be management information systems. But he thought that would be boring — a surprising word choice for some who instead chose insurance.
“People look at [insurance] like it’s really dry and not very exciting,” he says, “but there’s a lot of high-level, complex work that goes into it, especially at the level where we operate.”
— Brian Hartz
Name: Matt Harrell
City of residence: Tampa
Employer: Franklin Street Insurance
Title: Managing Director
Years on the Gulf Coast: All my life
Marital status/children: Wife, Jennifer, with three children — Lawson (6), Hadley (4) and Georgia (2)
Alma mater/degree: Florida State University. Graduated with double major in Risk Management/Insurance and Finance.
Best place to network: Alumni events
Messy desk or clean workspace: Clean desk with organized stacks of paper/files
Eat lunch out or at your desk: At my desk, always. Thanks, UberEATS.
Best business lesson ever learned: Nobody is perfect. Always be willing to improve.
Weirdest job you've ever had: Clean out an old cigar factory
A website that makes your job easier: Google Maps
App you use the most: Podcasts. Favorite one now is "How I Built This."
One thing you do every day: Have a glass of red wine
Community group you're most involved with: Kid's school
Favorite off-hours activity: Bike rides with my wife and kids
Two people, dead or alive, you'd like to have dinner with: Ernest Hemingway and Bill Belichick
What would you be doing if you could pick another career: Custom home builder
Top item on your bucket list: Play a round of golf at Augusta National
Your happy place is: My back porch
Your biggest fear: Not providing for my family
Favorite Ted Talk: Simon Sinek - Start With Why
Skill you'd like to learn: Fly fishing
Who would play you in a movie about your life: Liam Neeson
Describe yourself in three words: Driven, analytical and caring