Surety Underwriter Jobs: What Argo Looks for in Candidates

Argo Surety’s Hiring Approach Defies Trends

How innovative thinking can help attract talent to surety underwriter jobs.

By Brendan Keating, SVP, Chief Operations Officer, Argo Surety

As more companies enter the surety space, competition for talent has increased.

Finding a good fit to fill surety underwriter jobs can be a struggle. This, along with the need for a combination of technical expertise and relational skills makes it challenging.

But with an innovative approach and unique hiring practices, Argo Surety has been able to overcome those challenges and set an example for how to attract and retain the right people for the right roles.

What makes a good surety candidate

  • Flexibility and resourcefulness
  • Financial and analytical competence
  • Relationship management skills

Having the ability to perform rigorous financial and contract analysis is an important part of a surety professional’s toolkit.

But equally important is the ability to manage and maintain relationships through difficult decisions. Delivering tough messages is perhaps the hardest part of a surety underwriter’s job, but it’s often necessary in order to maintain consistent results.

Resourcefulness separates the great candidates from the good ones. When trying to determine who will succeed in surety, we ask ourselves, “Who’s trying to figure something out on their own? Who’s putting in the work instead of just saying, ‘How do we get there?’”

This doesn’t mean we’re looking for candidates who are eager to make decisions without oversight but rather for self-starters who work to develop their own resources.

Why some sureties struggle

Surety is a niche industry. Sometimes it’s overlooked or dismissed by job seekers because it’s not often discussed in a university setting the way banking, marketing and law are. Part of our responsibility is to make the effort to sell potential candidates on the benefits of a career in surety.

From the outside, they might think that insurance is an older industry, resistant to change. In reality, the industry is constantly evolving and innovating, leveraging the latest technologies to better predict and evaluate risk, and supporting clients in their efforts to develop something new.

We have to show up-and-coming talent that risks move the economy forward and that surety bonds often play an important part in executing large, impactful projects – in some cases, even helping to protect taxpayers’ investments.

How to apply innovative thinking

  • Keep an entrepreneurial mindset
  • Hire from varied backgrounds
  • Offer career flexibility

At the core of our approach is an entrepreneurial mindset, which means giving employees more of a voice than they might have with larger, more traditional insurers. If underwriters see an opportunity and do the work, we’re going to support their ideas as long as it makes sense for the company.

Part of what allows us to take this approach is the breadth of experience our team members bring. Since becoming president of Argo Surety in 2012, Josh Betz has made a point to seek talent from a wide range of professional backgrounds. For example, we’ve employed engineers with decades of energy sector experience to bring their technical expertise to the underwriting process.

We’ve also rethought the way we delegate responsibilities in some cases. Argo Surety’s portfolio management team constantly analyzes and evaluates various aspects of the portfolio and the industries we support. They help improve service by giving the market-facing team data, tools and time to interact with clients.

Portfolio management is still a developing area, but it’s already helped the company retain talented underwriters who were seeking more flexibility or who just prefer a more analytical role. The team is a unique resource that we expect to utilize more in the future.

In the meantime, we can continue our efforts to teach the broader population how surety works and how rewarding working in surety can be.

Learn more about Argo Surety.

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