The Fischer Group at Graystone Consulting

By Sarah Hall

Pictured left to right; Marc Fischer (Managing Director, Wealth Management), Mark Caropreso (SVP, Institutional Consultant), Adam Brady (Institutional Consulting Analyst), Chad Jacob (institional Consultant), Theresa Kenyon (Portfolio Associate), Elizabeth McCarthy (Institutional Consulting Ananlyst), Heather Warne-Hopkins (Institutional Consulting Analyst), Samantha Maley (Instituional Consulting Relationship Manager), Thomas Thaney (Institutional Consultant), Melanie Lugo (Registered CSA), Michael Valenti (SVP, Institutional Consultant)

Marc Fischer (Managing Director, Wealth Management)

Mark Caropreso (SVP, Institutional Consultant

In the 30 years that The Fischer Group at Graystone Consulting has been providing financial services, a lot has changed.

“[When] we came into this industry 30 years ago, we were stockbrokers,” said Mark Caropreso, the firm’s senior vice president. “The goal of the job was a sales job and the idea was to talk to your clients about logical investments. But over time, the role is much more of a really of a consultative role. The consultant has become more of an asset manager.”

Clients used to want more control over their stock portfolios, Caropreso said. Now, however, they’ll come to financial advisors with a broader idea of their financial needs and sometimes hand over the reins.

“The biggest change in my 30 years is discretion, the discretion and the responsibility,” he said. “Years ago, clients really wanted ideas and they pick and choose which ones they wanted to take. The industry has moved [toward] implementation and a discretionary role where we set goals and objectives and then implement the strategy, often saving priceless investment and Trustee decision making time.”

If you’re putting your financial future in someone’s hands, you won’t find hands much more capable than those of the Fischer Group. In 1991, Marc Fischer was one of the original 25 members that would eventually form Graystone Consulting. Today his titles include Managing Director, Institutional Consulting Director, Alternative Investments Director, and Financial Advisor.  As a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, Graystone Consulting offers a more personalized investment experience to strictly institutional and very high net worth investors that still provides the benefits of the global financial firm. Founded by Marc Fischer, the team includes six consultants, three analysts, two portfolio associates, and one marketing/relationship ambassador, working together to understand the unique investment needs of high net worth and institutional clients alike.  The group operates out of two brick and mortar locations in the state—one in Rochester and one in Latham.

Fischer himself, the group’s director has been in the financial industry since 1988. A Rochester native, he graduated with honors from the University of Rhode Island with a bachelor’s degree in business management and earned CIMA designation from the Wharton School at the University Pennsylvania in 1994. Notably, his Fischer Group was recently named by Barron’s as a 2021 Top 100 Institutional Team nationally. Also, he has been featured in Barron’s Top 1200 State by State Advisors in New York every year since 2010. He is based in the Rochester office along with team members, including: Thomas Thaney, Vice President, Institutional Consultant, Michael Valenti, Senior Vice President, Institutional Consultant, Chad Jacob, Senior Vice President, Institutional Consultant, Heather Warne- Hopkins, Assistant Vice President, Institutional Consultant Analyst, Theresa Kenyon, Portfolio Associate, Elizabeth McCarthy, Institutional Consulting Analyst, Adam Brady, Institutional Consulting Analyst, and Samantha Maley, Institutional Consulting Relationship Manager.

Caropreso, meanwhile, is a Senior Vice President, Institutional Consultant, Financial Advisor, and Alternative Investments Director. He is in based in the Latham office along with Melanie Lugo, Registered Client Service Associate, and he has more than 27 years of experience in the investment industry.  Caropreso earned a BS in finance from Siena College and graduated from carpenter’s apprentice program, working as a journeyman carpenter through Carpenters Local No. 370 in Albany. He is currently a member of Carpenters Local No. 291, Eastern Contractors Association, Syracuse Builders Exchange, Builders Exchange of Rochester and International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.


Statewide representation

The Rochester and Latham offices began working together about 12 years ago, when they realized there was overlap between their respective client bases and geographical footprint and therefore opportunities for teamwork.  

The collaboration has allowed the team to better serve a wide variety of clients.

“My institutional client base was smaller numerically than his, but they were of a larger size,” Caropreso said. “I was in an institutional niche in construction-related benefit plans, multi-employer funds, while Marc also had experience in foundations and endowments and other large institutions, hospitals, districts, charitable organizations. Marc also occasionally shared the enjoyment of working with Taft Hartley clients, having over a half dozen himself since as early as 1991. “For me, my institutional practice was a smaller percentage of my overall business, and the resources that I had available to me in Albany were less than the resources I would have enjoyed had I not teamed up with Marc.”

That partnership was formalized in 2019, in order to leverage collective resources, better communicate, and share technology.

“Just in the act of teaming actually officially they become more streamlined, more plugged into our group,” Fischer said. “Having them, even in Albany, it does not matter. They could be across the planet and we would have the same kind of synergies that go with that, because they participate truly at our day-to-day. They can literally see all the data like we see it live on the screens and they are not just an outside group that we work with.”

Having offices in Rochester and Latham also offers the Fischer Group better geographical representation.

“We are obligated in most cases to visit our clients in person, post-COVID, and to visit our clients quarterly… to always be available,” Fischer said. “We have multiple advisors on each relationship at all times so that they can see not only the team approach to it but with the coverage that we have. With our competitors, it is very rare to see more than one financial advisor at the meetings. Our clients find it more comforting to know that there is a team that is behind them and in different individuals that they can reach out and touch.”

‘You just cannot buy that’

Like some 60 other Graystone directors nationally, Fischer and his team work with both individual and corporate/institutional clients. In addition to the firm’s own experience, one of the big draws is its relationship with financial powerhouse Morgan Stanley. As Graystone’s parent company, Morgan Stanley provides the structure that allows individual teams to serve their clients in a truly unique capacity.

“That is probably the single largest advantage that we have over most of our competitors,” Fischer said. “It is not only the experience of the financial advisor, but also the financial backing, the critical administrative support, and the health of the sturdiness of the capital, the firm, is key.”

Morgan Stanley provides significant backing in the form of financial and legal resources that are essential when Fischer’s team are acting in a fiduciary capacity for their clients, which applies to nearly all their institutional relationships and to many of their retail clients as well.

“Morgan Stanley gives us the backing of a global institution,” Caropreso said. “We have got at our fingertips more resources than I can fathom. You just cannot buy that.”

The Fischer Group at Graystone has access to technology, staffing, research, and other resources that other firms don’t. Included in these resources is the legal structure and oversight components that allow their consultants to take on a co-fiduciary role with their institutional clients. In order to remain free from conflicts of interest, consultants cannot use Morgan Stanley managers or products within their consulting client’s portfolios, preserving their position as a truly independent advocate of their clients.

“Morgan Stanley is a very good partner,” Fischer said. “They are very supportive of the teams.”

“I would say our clients think what is most important with our partnership with Morgan Stanley is the fact that we are a fiduciary,” Fischer said. “In most cases, we are a co-fiduciary and we actually take the same amount or multiple times the same amount of risk as the trustees themselves.”

With their long history of serving institutional clients, the team understands their obligations, and the special trust relationship that comes with undertaking fiduciary responsibility in partnership with boards of trustees, or as consultant to a corporate retirement plan

It’s a comfort to clients if they have a fiduciary with ample resources to educate and protect them.

Not just stocks and bonds

The resources and support of Morgan Stanley allows the Fischer Group to provide a number of services to all client types, and access to a large suite of investment options that can be customized and mixed to help meet each unique client need. The group boasts several members with “Alternative Investments Director” titles, which gives them particular experience with utilizing the specialized subset of investment options known as “alternative investments.”

This sometimes esoteric asset class- from hedge funds to managed futures, commodities and private equity, among many others- goes beyond traditional stocks or bonds. Having worked with investors for more than 30 years, the team has the experience to advise and educate clients on these kinds of investments. The firm prides itself on the ability to cater to both corporate and individual clients and to provide a tailor-made approach to portfolio construction and oversight.

“Going back 30 years, the consulting industry… was really just stocks and bonds,” he said. “In the day back in the 1970s and ‘80s, very high net worth investors had alternate investments. Now it has become more mainstream as they become more available to individual investors.”

In particular, Fischer said the consultant’s role is to educate clients about their investments, because particularly when it comes to alternative investment options, ensuring the client meets appropriate suitability guidelines and understands their investment choices is key.

“It is a part of the job that we do in our role as educators. Most of our clients are boards, their trustees, their members that really represent pools of money that is not theirs,” he said. “Part of what they are obligated to do as trustees, they need to become constantly educated as to what it is because they are responsible for those pools of money. That is where we have the training and the commitment to do that type of work, and educate them, and make them comfortable with those types of investments as part of our process.”

Another important part of the Fischer Group’s business is navigating jointly- trusteed benefit packages sponsored by labor unions and contributing employers called Taft-Hartley plans. Caropreso explained that the packages are similar to the kinds of plans offered by single employers. The primary difference is that the plan is managed under a trust with trustees appointed or elected by the union and a group of contributing employers as opposed to a single employer. The union member plan participants don’t work for the same company day in and day out. The particular intricacies of investment management for these multi-employer plans require some special expertise to understand and service. The team’s long history of serving Taft-Hartley plans in the construction trades give them ample experience in helping clients with these needs.

“In order for these plans to work, the plan has to follow the worker from employer to employer,” Caropreso said. “So you end up with benefit packages made up of typical pensions, defined contribution plans for retirement, kind of like a 401k plans, and healthcare plans.”

The Group is responsible to help trustees representing the unions and employers make investment decisions for those pools of money to ensure their security and growth to meet stated goals and objectives for their participants.

“We are helping them select investment strategies, managers, products to meet the obligations of each of those plans,” he said.

The Fischer Group’s deep understanding of the needs of clients, the available universe of investment options, and abundant resources of their parent company allow them to match clients with a customized consulting solution.


While the Fischer Group offers a wide variety of services and amenities, Caropreso said it’s the expertise that sets the firm apart from its competitors.

“We’re ultimately here to serve the local community,” he said. “We have more skin in the game. And at the end of the day, we want to do a better job for less money, better results, more service than any other people that would come in from out of town.”

Fischer agreed.

“Clients come to us because they need the global presence of Morgan Stanley backing-wise and the experience of Graystone Consulting, the back office, the research, the capital, et cetera,” he said. “But they also love the local presence, the dedication to the community.”

Caropreso said that all of the changes the Fischer Group has made in the last few years has been to benefit its clients.

“The desire to add more people, that’s not because we want to become more wealthy, it is because we want to do a better job,” he said. “That is really the story of the Fischer group and it is the way that we would see it grow.”

For the last 30 years, and for many more, Fischer’s Group hopes to continue to serve local communities throughout New York State by using their considerable historical experience and the significant resources offered by their parent company, to enhance outcomes for clients. The formalization of the partnership between Managing Director Marc Fischer and Senior Vice President Mark Caropreso, has allowed them to expand their geographical footprint, and created synergies to the benefit of all clients. The team’s commitment to delivering local service means you may see members of the group at golf tournaments, the clambake, steak roast, or any other event that would allow them to follow through on their promise of creating a true partnership with clients. To learn more about The Fischer Group, visit:

Source: (April 2021). Barron’s Top Institutional Consulting Teams were evaluated on a range of criteria, including institutional investment assets overseen by the team, the revenue generated by those assets, the number of clients served by the team, and the number of team members and their regulatory records. Also considered were the advanced professional designations and accomplishments represented on the team. The rating is not indicative of the Institutional Consulting Director’s past or future performance. Neither Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney LLC nor its Institutional Consulting Directors pay a fee to Barron’s in exchange for the rating. Barron’s is a registered trademark of Dow Jones & Company, L.P. All rights reserved.  

Source: (March 2021). Top 1,200 Financial Advisors: State-by-State as identified by Barron’s magazine, using quantitative and qualitative criteria and selected from a pool of over 4,000 nominations. Advisors in the Top 1,200 Financial Advisors list have a minimum of seven years of financial services experience. Qualitative factors include, but are not limited to, compliance record and philanthropic work. Investment performance is not a criterion. The rating may not be representative of any one client’s experience and is not indicative of the financial advisor’s future performance. Neither Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC nor its Financial Advisors or Private Wealth Advisors pays a fee to Barron’s in exchange for the rating. Barron’s is a registered trademark of Dow Jones & Company, L.P. All rights reserved.

The investments listed may not be appropriate for all investors. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC recommends that investors independently evaluate particular investments, and encourages investors to seek the advice of a financial advisor. The appropriateness of a particular investment will depend upon an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.

Investments and services offered through Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC.  Graystone Consulting is a business of Morgan Stanley.


Five Star Equipment Exceeds Customer Expectations in Syracuse

by Becca Taurisano

It’s a whole new Five Star Equipment in Syracuse. The Dunmore, PA based construction equipment company opened their new, state-of-the-art Syracuse facility in November 2020, shortly after General Manager Dave Kreis came on board in September. With over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry, Kreis was tasked with filling multiple open positions. “I wanted to find people that would be a good fit. Here in Syracuse, we needed to reinvigorate the atmosphere of teamwork.” Kreis was able to staff his team with a combination of outside hires and promoting from within, an important practice at Five Star Equipment.


Recent hires include Scott Hinman, Sales Manager, who comes from a large, national construction rental company with many years of service and branch management experience. Tim DeLany, the Used Equipment Manager has over 30 years of construction experience, the last 20 of which were in used equipment.

Valerie Smith started at Five Star Equipment in 1990 in the service department, worked in various departments, and now serves as Rental Manager for both the Syracuse and Kirkwood branches. Smith has even served as Interim General Manager, when needed. Smith says, “I just truly love working with the customers. It is a close-knit family at the end of the day.”

Pam Huckaby, Corporate Parts Operations Manager, started off on the parts counter, worked her way up to Parts Specialist, and then to her current corporate role. “Pam has been instrumental in hiring and interviewing parts employees and leading the charge in training and mentoring,” Kreis says. “Every day, Pam drives home that the customer comes first and she does a phenomenal job at it.” Huckaby recently assisted with the rollout of the MyDealer portal, an online parts ordering system, and getting larger customers on board.

Gary Mason, Senior Governmental Territory Sales Manager, oversees municipality customers in five counties. “Gary has maintained an industry leading market share with those customers and the John Deere line. He is always available to help and mentor the new sales professionals,” Kreis says.

Lori Prent, Service Advisor; Brian Jacopelle, Territory Sales Manager; and Chris Pier, Product Support Sales Specialist are internal hires who have been promoted to their current positions. Jacopelle has over 15 years of experience and Pier came to Five Star from BOCES, already earning his first promotion in his brief career. Kreis says customers can rely on these industry professionals to provide the highest quality service in construction equipment sales, rentals, and service.


Bringing a fresh perspective to Five Star Equipment is Rob Hecox, the new Service Manager in Syracuse. Hecox has been able to draw on his experience in the automotive industry. “We lean on Rob for feedback in the area of sales and service to help our customers,” Kreis says. Brian Doran, Territory Sales Manager, has nearly five years of industry experience, joined the company in January 2021, and is already a strong producer. Juli Rowe, Sales and Branch Administrator, has served in a variety of administrative and office management roles prior to joining Five Star Equipment in April 2021.


Kreis believes you must exceed customer expectations and communication is essential to doing that. “Getting back to customers in a timely manner is key. We have a very short season in central New York and our customers need to get a lot done. Many of the customers we deal with are multi-generation companies. Relationships in the construction industry are built over long periods of time and you have to go above and beyond their expectations.”


Five Star Equipment places emphasis on a highly trained workforce who are certified to work on highly technical machinery. “Much like our cars and our appliances, machinery is very complicated now and the repairs need to be done by certified technicians. We provide this through external training from John Deere University, or internal training with our own product support operations managers,” says Kreis. The organization is always looking to build its team as well. “Having teams with qualified people is essential,” Kreis says, “so we invest heavily in employee training and education.”


Five Star Equipment carries a vast array of product lines including John Deere, Hitachi, Fecon, Bomag, Eager Beaver Trailers, Trail King, HARLO, and Topcon. “We are seeing global shortages on all kinds of products, so availability is key. We are able to offer a large and diverse fleet of equipment from industry leaders to support all of our customers’ needs,” Kreis says. Consistency is also important as customers are more mobile and work across county and state lines. Kreis says customers should have the same experience in any Five Star Equipment location. “We want the customers to expect they will hear from someone in a timely manner, there will be follow up, and there is someone accountable like a General Manager that they can reach out to.” Smith says, “Our goal is to accommodate the customer in every branch. We want to go above and beyond in every way we can.”


With a new facility and a new team, Five Star Equipment is looking to the future. CEO Bill Farrell says, “The company has changed to reflect the industry. There are more women in positions of leadership in construction.” In addition to Valerie Smith and Pam Huckaby, General Manager of the Williamsport branch, Carrie Wolf, and Human Resources Director Elena Seidita, also serve in key leadership roles at the company. “We have the right people in the right positions and we are always looking for more people to join our team,” Farrell says. “For us, the future means strengthening existing customer relationships by always putting our customers first.”

Workforce Development; The Construction Industry’s Challenge to Attract Workers

By: Earl R. Hall, Executive Director – Syracuse Builders Exchange

Earl Hall headshot

Ten years ago, construction industry executives anticipated that in just a few years there would be a national and local shortage of skilled craftsmen and craftswomen.  The data suggested a large percentage of those eligible would retire, and the next generation worker was not being attracted and retained to fill those positions.  In addition, the increased construction activity across the country, in particular the larger urban cities and surrounding regions, would require an increased supply of labor to support construction building and highway demand.

Today the industry continues to address challenges associated with a skilled labor shortage.  New York State is at the epicenter of the issue, struggling to attract apprentices and journeymen and women alike into a very physically demanding industry, which also ranks as one of the most dangerous professions in the United States.

The Challenge

Attracting people into the industry throughout central New York has always been a challenge.  For decades employers and union apprenticeship programs have attempted to identify and attract people of all sexes, races, skin color and ethnicity.  Unfortunately, in some cases a person might hold an adverse opinion of construction professions.  Others may be dissuaded from exploring a career in construction because of the physical demands and working at times in difficult working and environmental conditions.  Others have complained the average construction worker may only work 1,600 – 1,800 hours per year.  Recently, a barrier to entry for some is the lack of transportation and childcare.  Those reasons are not to be ignored and must be addressed when attempting to attract future candidates into the industry.  


As a college student at Syracuse University in the late 1980s, I enjoyed coming home for the summer; however, with that came the understanding that I needed to work and make enough money to afford to return to college.    

For five summers I worked as a laborer for various union contractors, working 3 months at a time.  Whether it was as a mason tender working for Hopkins & Reilly alongside Bricklayers Local 2, Operating Engineers Local 545 and Laborers Local 333 union members at the Great Northern Mall or at the North Medical Center; running a jackhammer 8 hours a day on the bridge decks over Route 690 and West Street; or performing demolition work at Crouse Irving Hospital, I developed a tremendous amount of admiration and respect for those career construction workers.  Those career union members finely tuned their skills and obtained a wide variety of safety training certificates in an effort to deliver the finest construction worker any employer would want on their team.  The diverse men and women on those projects taught me to work hard, be efficient and work safely.  I had no business earning the same hourly pay as the career union member working along side of me, but they accepted me as a member of their team. 

I would never trade those summers for anything as those experiences helped me better understand the hard work, effort and sacrifices that career construction workers put forth to become professionals at their craft.  Along with the professionalism came their desire to attain as much education and safety related content as possible to provide and work in a safe working environment.  Obtaining safety training certificates not only educated the workers on how to work safely on job sites but made the worker more marketable to other contractors.  Developing career skills, job site experiences and safety training certifications over a long period of time created the ultimate career construction worker.

An Employer’s Vision

Employers and union apprenticeship programs today have evolved to adapt to the challenges identified above.  Both union and non-union employers alike strive for long-term, career-oriented employees in their companies for a variety of reasons.  Employers want people who are self-motivated, safety-conscious, reliable, and hardworking who can get to and from their place of employment daily. 

One of the top priorities of employers is to provide their employees with a safe working environment, all the necessary safety equipment and all the necessary and required education and safety training.  A safe workforce is a productive workforce.  Workers’ compensation claims are a lose-lose situation for any employer as one of their employees is now injured, and the company’s workers compensation insurance premium will increase.  Keeping employees safe on dangerous job sites is paramount to an employer’s ability to be successful and profitable.   

Today’s Environment

Elected officials and bureaucrats alike have required that workforce development and contract award goals be included on public work projects.  Those noble goals may be in the form of contract awards to minority, women, and service-disabled veteran owned businesses (“M/W/SDV”), preferential bid discounts afforded to the above or diversity hiring goals of employees.  Although such are well intended goals, too often capacity to achieve such goals may not exist in the region where such goals are assigned.  Over the years, the Syracuse Builders Exchange has offered educational courses to help M/W/SDV grow businesses to build capacity of such employers in the central New York region.

Local and regional socio-economic issues championed by community leaders, activists and politicians have also delivered a narrative on the necessity of diverse workforces in the industry.  While laudable and desired, capacity problems remain in that such required targeted people in society have not been attracted to the industry for reasons stated previously.  How do employers, and the industry in general, overcome these issues and attract people of all races, color, sex, and ethnicities to create a diverse workforce in the construction industry?


While there may be multiple, well intended groups focusing on workforce development initiatives for specific segments of society or individual projects, the Syracuse Builders Exchange is committed to attracting and retaining all people throughout our 18-county central New York region.  Creating and maintaining a sustainable workforce development program must be inclusive.  Local and regional initiatives should be embraced so long as they do not adversely impact existing career construction workers or the employers who hire them.

Focusing on training potential workers for specific, short-term construction projects should be used as a launching pad for the next generation construction worker.  Identifying those candidates from socio-economic challenged and low-income segments of our society is difficult, yet an initiative worth pursuing for many reasons.  I challenge those involved in such initiatives to think long-term and focus on creating a career construction worker.  A construction worker who will stay engaged in the industry and make construction his or her career.  While community leaders, elected officials and bureaucrats look to address local problems that impact local constituents, the construction industry should take advantage of this in an effort to promote a career in construction and the amazing benefits and opportunities the industry has to offer on a long-term basis.  

Over the years, I have served on the Syracuse City School District’s (“SCSD”) Career and Technical Education (“CTE”) Advisory Board to help develop curriculum in the construction related pathways offered to students in the SCSD.  The CTE program attracts students entering middle school who may not have an interest in higher education, and who would rather choose a career pathway to enter the workforce upon high school graduation.  The SCSD CTE program targets all students in the city of Syracuse, including but not limited to those in defined “low income” communities.  It targets students of all races, color, sex, and ethnicities, and serves as a resource to nurturing young students into career pathways for which the industry is in dire need.

The Syracuse Builders Exchange will continue to be a leader in providing education and safety training content to construction industry employers and their employees.  We will continue to participate and be engaged in developing the next generation construction worker on a regional and local basis.  While public officials have assigned contract and hiring goals based upon race, skin color and ethnicity, the Builders Exchange will continue to promote construction career opportunities to all people of all races, skin colors and ethnicities in an effort to build not only such “goal” capacities in the industry, but to fill voids left by those career construction workers who have retired.


As a fiduciary to the Syracuse Builders Exchange, my job is to act in the best interest of the members of the Association, their employees, and the construction industry in general.  Serving in the best interest of the construction industry in general covers a broad spectrum of people, ideas, interests, and entities.  Diversity and inclusion of all people in the industry will continue to be at the forefront of our workforce development campaigns and initiatives.  Not because governmental entities, politicians, community leaders or bureaucrats say so, but because such has always been the approach when identifying, attracting and retaining our next generation construction worker.

Navigating Insurance Market Uncertainty; Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail

By: Brett Findlay, OneGroup

Over the course of the past year, it is fair to say that businesses in all industries have faced new challenges. The construction industry and the corresponding insurance marketplace have been no exception. In the Spring of 2020, reports suggested that commercial insurance buyers specifically in the United States, would face sizable pricing increases in 2020 and 2021. These reports were published prior to the Coronavirus pandemic. At that time, the potential increases were predicted for most lines of insurance. Those indications were the first of a hardening market. As a contractor in New York State, the insurance marketplace is limited enough to begin with, let alone at an affordable price. The question(s) become, what has changed and how do I prepare as a buyer? Because if you do not prepare, you may be on the receiving end of negative renewal experiences.

A hard insurance market, by definition, is characterized by an increased demand for insurance coverage coupled with a reduced supply. Typically, underwriting guidelines become more stringent, policies issued by carriers dwindle, premiums are high, and insurers are less willing to negotiate terms. This was happening prior to the pandemic, and for certain lines of insurance the pandemic has only seemed to exacerbate the situation. We are now in what is considered to be the first hardening market to take hold since the turn of the century. Rates have not reached that point yet, and it is too early to tell if they will continue on that trend.


As a business owner there are some items that are paramount to have a handle on in order to weather the cycle as effectively as possible. Having an experienced broker and a strong relationship with them is of the utmost importance. That broker should be able to coach you on the development, implementation and/or fine tuning of your risk management & safety program, coverage adequacy, carrier relations and claims history. Having a handle on these items, and how you represent them to the insurance carrier(s) is key to maintaining or improving your current program and budgeting for the costs associated with it. So, what has changed with your program, and how do you prepare for it?

Any given broker may be the best fit for your company, but, if the agent representing your account cannot properly handle it then your company is the one that ultimately pays for it. That is why it is critical to have an experienced agent. The agent should be diligent and proactive in learning about your business. They will need that firm understanding of your industry, and how your business functions within it, to properly paint the best picture of your organization while discussing it competently with the underwriter of any given carrier. The picture being painted needs to include certain key points, as previously mentioned those points include your risk management and safety procedures, claims history and coverage needs. Being able to discuss each in depth and coherently to an underwriter will put them on the path to providing the program that you need and being able to do so will provide you with the best program and rates available to your industry class.

It is equally important to have a broker that understands the marketplace and which carriers to involve in the underwriting of your account. The ability of that broker to forecast the costs and insurance availability with the proper coverage is key. Long story short, you need someone who knows construction, and knows the carriers and underwriters that write insurance for construction operations.

                Typically, a hard market is not a fun process to go through. With that being said, you have the ability to proactively position your business to handle the situation. Talk to your agent, prepare yourself for the unexpected and the possibility of having to market your insurance, get in front of the curve to limit any potential program failures. As you have heard me say before, contractors in todays’ economic landscape, must be sharper than ever to increase or even maintain profit margins. Preparing yourself for a hard market and forecasting any potential dramatic increases to soft costs, will put you in a better position to control your margins.

            At OneGroup, we are a team of specialists, dedicated to risk management and construction industry specific insurance issues. We hope to serve as a resource to your organization for all your construction specific questions and concerns. OneGroup takes great pride in being at the forefront of industry trends and assisting others where we can. You can learn more about us at: