Burns & Wilcox Employee Reviews about "underwriter"

Updated May 5, 2019

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Found 17 of over 221 reviews

4.0
82%
Recommend to a Friend
94%
Approve of CEO
Burns & Wilcox Chairman, President, and CEO Alan Jay Kaufman (no image)
Alan Jay Kaufman
140 Ratings
Pros
  • "Burns is filled with great people who want to help you succeed(in 10 reviews)

  • "support ongoing education, designations, etc(in 10 reviews)

  • Cons
  • "No discipline for underwriter who do not meet goals and literally let their task go to 6-8 months old(in 13 reviews)

  • "Compensation and work life balance(in 12 reviews)

  • More Pros and Cons
    Pros & Cons are excerpts from user reviews. They are not authored by Glassdoor.

    Reviews about "underwriter"

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    1. 1.0
      Former Employee, more than 10 years

      Behind the curve

      May 5, 2019 - Anonymous Employee in Toronto, ON
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      -Good downtown office location on Bay st. -Good place to learn how to not build a good company culture / atmosphere and what poor management looks like.

      Cons

      -Compared to other employers in the industry, employees at Burns & Wilcox Toronto are underpaid, have longer standard hours, less paid time off, underwhelming bonuses and have much worse benefits packages. -Despite what upper management tells its staff, the company has a poor reputation in the industry which is apparent as soon as you attend an industry event and start talking to people at other companies. -Junior staff are set up in a sweat shop model of brain numbing processing with very high turnover rates with managers that don't care about them. -Toxic culture is rewarded with underwriters and mangers able to get away with bad behavior as long as they are bringing in the dollars and meeting their sales targets. Dollars are more important than culture here. Management not brave enough to let bad apples go because it would affect business numbers. -No standard casual Fridays, and if there is you need to pay to dress casual with a charity donation from your already underwhelming salary. -Culture of nepotism and favoritism. -Sexism: Two male managers are well known by everyone for automatically disliking any new male employees because they are men and not a young female -Leadership only pays lip service to carrying about its staff. -Everyone at the company knows that Burns and Wilcox Canada management apparently asked Glassdoor to remove a previous bad review... You can bet after this review there will be a witch hunt to find out who wrote it

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      8 people found this review helpful
    2. 1.0
      Former Employee

      Terrible work environment

      Sep 13, 2016 -  in Toronto, ON
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Lots of the people - particularly the assistant underwriters - are very nice and good to work with. It can be fun if you're young because there are tons of people in their 20s. You can get promoted to underwriter from assistant underwriter relatively quickly if you are competent and stick with it, although the main reason that promotions are available is due to the high turnover.

      Cons

      Below the industry average in pay, time off, and benefits. More hours than is standard - you have to work 8:30-5:30, no flexibility. You don't technically get coffee breaks - most people take them but there are some more senior employees that tell management when they see assistants taking breaks. The company tries to foster competition between employees by displaying everyone's numbers at meetings. This creates a very negative work environment. There is a general feeling of frustration toward management, which refuses to listen to the concerns of employees. Management is very rigid and unwilling to make necessary changes to adapt to Canadian work environment. Turnover is incredibly high and it's very easy to see why. Other companies do not tend to hold experience at Burns & Wilcox in very high regard so many people, upon leaving, have to take a slight demotion.

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      14 people found this review helpful
    3. 4.0
      Current Employee, more than 10 years

      Pros

      #1 Largest independently owned wholesaler in North America. Not beholden to Wall Street. What does that mean for an employee of B&W? Our President & CEO is wicked smart & you'll never be laid off or paid a late bonus because the company does not have the money to pay you. #2 Due to pro #1, an underwriter has a lot of markets to choose from & a vast network of colleagues to help them. Market share is key to anyone's success. Burns & Wilcox has this. #3 Burns & Wilcox has spent a great deal of money on training & education to help existing & new employees. Although every office may differ, many other offices as well as Headquarters are always available for guidance, training & sharing helpful insights on success & their own expertise. #4 Commission Incentives: Are amazing! If you're willing to put time & effort & have pride of work, you will make good money. Just like any sales position, at first it'll be tough, but hang in there- keep giving excellent service to your customers & you'll be making 6 figures before you know it! Think about what you would expect as a customer & give it to your clients. It's that easy, I promise! #5 IT developments. #4 is so much easier now as Burns & Wilcox employees can access everything at home as they do at work! So if you've got to leave to pick up kids or just want to miss traffic, you can still give excellent service at home in your pjs! Paperless imaging & remote access! #6 Bottom line here is if you're willing to work hard & put your time in, the sky is the limit! Burns & Wilcox is a company that rewards hard work & personal efforts. Sales positions are based on this principle. If you're willing to fit this challenge, you will be rewarded.

      Cons

      As with any sales or corporate America positions, there are always going to be cons. #1 Top producers are promoted to management titles regardless of their management or HR skills. This will happen in most sales companies I'm sure. Thankfully at B&W, if you're a good producer who works hard, this con will not affect you. #2 Stems from #1. Sometimes these awesome producer folks make poor decisions or show favoritism. If you're a true capitalist & or salesperson, service every one of your clients well, as you would want to be serviced & your numbers will sky rocket- then see pro #4. In sales, whether or not you're a favorite, if you produce, you'll win. Don't let anyone get you down, and don't expect hand outs. Seek knowledge & advice from those willing to offer it. B&W has plenty of these individuals. #3 if you're expecting not to have to work hard & have business handed to you, this is not the job for you. However, if you're willing to work hard, see the pro section!

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      6 people found this review helpful
    4. 1.0
      Former Employee

      Great Potential, But Comes Up Short

      May 24, 2018 - Anonymous Employee in Arlington, TX
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Casual dress except when ceo is in town Window seat if your an underwriter Keurig coffee machine Free parking Health Insurance Mostly nice co-workers Near the ballpark, season tickets to rangers games Golf outings and great branding with a corporate sponsored golfer Paid time off/vacation Not a high pressure sales environment

      Cons

      Micro-managing Dated management system Uncompetitive salary Uncompetitive and convoluted bonus plan Kitchen duty Un-covered parking Expensive health insurance Traffic from rangers/cowboys games when your trying to leave the office Nepotism Corporate sponsored golfer is one of the highest paid individuals by the company Can’t use vacation during most of 4th quarter ie christmas and thanksgiving

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      3 people found this review helpful
    5. 1.0
      Former Employee

      Run Away. Hard and Fast.

      Feb 16, 2012 - Commercial Underwriter 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      - Number of contracts/markets - plethora of markets available for risk placement - Steady job during difficult economy - Excess & Surplus Lines Industry - National company

      Cons

      - Lack of support for work/life balance -- Management openly discourages - Lack of "team" mentality -- Underwriters are pitted against one another, making some of them unwilling to help. Some will even feed false information. - Management stirs up drama among employees - Management enjoyed gossiping about current and prior employees - Management plays favorites - HR nightmare -- no HR department in Branch offices. All of HR is located in Michigan. Management is the only outlet for complaints and personal issues (i.e. medical issues) -- but for the above mentioned reasons, they're not to be considered an option. - Lack of opportunity for advancement - KELP program is useless -- fancy name for "underwriting assistant" used to entice young college graduates. There are much better training programs available at other companies. - High turn-over ratio - Expensive benefits - Of the little vacation days given, it's difficult to get time off -- Entire month of December is blocked.

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      2 people found this review helpful
    6. 5.0
      Current Employee

      Great opportunity, Entrepreneurial Atmosphere

      Nov 28, 2017 -  
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Foot in the door, they're willing to train you and invest in you despite little or no prior experience. Proven, financially sound company with great relationships across the industry.

      Cons

      If you want to be an underwriter/broker, must be motivated by growing your own business and need to be a self-starter, which isn't for everyone.

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    7. 2.0
      Current Employee, more than 5 years

      Reviews speak volumes about company culture. Pay close attention to them because the bad ones are correct.

      Feb 22, 2018 - Anonymous Employee 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Benefits are good. Coworkers are great. Ability to obtain designations at company expense as long as you stay a certain period after obtaining the designation.

      Cons

      Retaliation against employees. Managers will do things underhanded so retaliation is hard to prove and the regional Executive VPs do not look throughly into allegations of retaliation or favoritism. I've seen MANY MANY, not just a few, employees come and go during my time here and I know many more that would leave if the opportunity presented itself. Many employees are afraid to speak to senior management because of the retaliation they have witnessed happen to others. The culture as a whole is toxic and is fostered from the very top of the company. This shows when entire offices basically walk away, which has happened many times to many offices. Managers are chosen on production numbers, not the ability to manage people. Producers are set up to fail either with a carrier that has pricing out of line and the producer is directed to quote/ bind with them or with agents that will waste you time and not bind new quotes. If they are an agent that represents a company B&W really wants to foster a relationship with, you won't be able to cancel the contract with that agent. Work/life balance is encouraged verbally, but then countered by a culture of having everything done before you go home. It simply isn't possible in a busy market to have everything done before you go home. Work will always be waiting. The standards of task completion are a unrealistic and you get reports that tell your manager how you are doing on your tasks, which you then get reminded to complete before the day is over. It's an endless cycle of madness. Turnover rate is similar to a restaurant or retail business because employees are not valued for the knowledge they possess, only their ability to make the company more money. It's a greed driven company. Many underwriters (normally top producers/managers) will do anything to write business, even overlooking things that could be E&O claims, all to increase numbers and make an office look good. In fact, some assistants for top underwriters I have found might know markets, but disregard carrier guidelines and renew based on expiring, even though the risk has changed significantly. Can you say E&O? Personally, unless the company changes from the top down, I wouldn't recommend working here. Sure, I've seen some top producers post reviews that are very feel good and the sky is the limit, but they are treated like royalty and their experience with the company is few and far between after looking at employee satisfaction surveys over the years. If you don't meet goals, you are looked at as a dirt bag slacker who isn't giving it 100%. After the employee surveys are released, the company will give lip service to changes, but ultimately, nothing happens. If you speak up, you have a target placed on your back. Most employees are viewed as expendable it seems, regardless of the vast knowledge they possess. Lastly, management will stab you in the back if you are not liked by them. You are on pins and needles with what you say. They also have informants who are hand picked by managers, and many times are part of the managers team to tell them who is saying what. Being loyal to the one in power gives many benefits, even if it's ethically wrong. It takes a while to learn who you can and can't trust. These informants will generally be placed on committies and anything negative will be relayed to the manager, even though they assure you that nothing is. As a reward for their undercover (or not so undercover) intelligence gathering, they are given special privileges by the managers, not afforded to other employees.

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      13 people found this review helpful
    8. 3.0
      Former Employee

      NC Associate Underwriter

      Aug 22, 2016 - Commercial Lines Associate Underwriter in Wilmington, NC
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      This company was a great place to start out fresh out of college and helped me get my foot in the door in the Insurance industry. People in the Morehead City office were lovely. Office is in a small town and most people grew up together. Great place to learn about the guidelines and requirements in the excess and surplus lines market. Growth is possible. Training is difficult to describe in my case because in 2013 when I started there was no formal training program in place, but they have improved the training procedures and learned to move employees a bit faster in 2014 and 2015. The Morehead City office and Wilmington office do business with mainly NC and SC agents which makes learning state requirements and specific guidelines a bit easier. Theses offices have exclusive access to certain contracts making them capable of writing business that other companies can not. Great team atmosphere that has a good system in place to assist others while people are out on vacation/sick leave. Great benefits with 401k match and health/dental/vision.

      Cons

      Management is focused on personal growth and office growth, but seems to overlook the actual act of helping their employees grow. They tend to assume that if an employee is asking for help then you they have too much to do, but really they should focus on teaching these employees better time management and better organizational skills to prevent pushing the work off on others. Because of this many employees end up have to help out other teams when there could be a different solution. If you do not speak up you will be overlooked (out of site out of mind is a real thing). Moving horizontally in the company is easier than vertically. If you want to move up into a new position you have to constantly be bugging your boss about it, almost to the point you are complaining. Every year they talk about setting up a schedule to have multiple reviews with the employees each year about their positions and goals, but I think in the 3 years I was there only 1 time was my review actually scheduled and any other time I talked to my boss or supervisors about my goals it was initiated by myself. After 1.5 years in a position (about 2.5 years with the company) I asked for a review and my boss did not know what my day to day job was or all of my capabilities. This was when I decided it was time to look elsewhere for a new job. I tried to handle leaving the company in the most professional way possible and all I have to say is management did not reciprocate this and handled my leaving rather inappropriately. Lastly the pay is mediocre unless you are an underwriter. Even an associate is not making enough salary and bonus wise to support themselves in Morehead City and Wilmington. The cost of living is not justified and I brought this up multiple times to management and it was brushed off.

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      8 people found this review helpful
    9. 1.0
      Former Employee

      You are replaceable they say. No respect for experience.

      Dec 10, 2014 - Commercial Underwriter in Arlington, TX
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Almost none, see cons section.

      Cons

      ATTENTION COLLEGE GRADS: Avoid this place at all cost. This is a horrible place to learn insurance. You learn by asking question and memorizing answers, but rarely the why, so you can learn the business. First, you will be HAZED by doing a job you were qualified to do in high school, for what could be months. Then you will be placed on a production team that is too busy to alot time for training. You could easily get pigeon holed into a low level assistant job for years, if you are placed on a bad team that doesn't have time or doesn't want to train. There is a great amount of turnover for new hires, so most people are burnt out on training new people. ALSO, don't fall for the KELP program. This is only a branded training with little substance. You may learn selling 101 and get a dog and pony show of home office, but NO technical training on what you're selling. ATTENTION UN-EXPERIENCED HIRES: Read above college grad section and omit the slightest bit of training mentioned and replace it with, WILL BE PIGENHOLD FOREVER. You are the B&W ideal candidate as they can way underpay you and won't get good training to be marketable to the competitors. ATTENTION EXPERIENCED HIRES: Hopefully you already have a good understanding of underwriting, coverage forms, the market place or at least some of these skills. If so, this is only a good stepping stone to learn E&S. They constantly need to plug holes in staffing, but only 1% of new hires have good working experience. People with experience don't stick around as they are highly marketable and good talent is a hot commodity and don't have to endure the culture at Burns. Compensation: You will be paid below the market at whatever level you come in at. The office is in Arlington(on purpose to get Fort Worth and surrounding area employees cheap) which means they automatically pay less than Dallas wholesalers. B&W hired a pay Czar to figure out why people are leaving. The Czar compares wages at the office against Arlington demographics to support their low wages and make them appear competitive. I would suggest a move to Dallas where wages are much higher or just commute. Likely to get at least a 10k bump, probably more. Bonus plans are discretionary for everyone except underwriters/brokers and it the most complicated formula, that they don't explain well. There is a 30% holdback on the bonus for accounting errors, or what I like to call an employee retention tool. If you leave, you automatically forfeit that 30%. Culture: Follow the rules no matter if they make logical sense or not. Don't question status quo. Some employees are extremely disrespectful to peers and/or superiors and get away with it(see favoritism section), but there are some very good people too. The office doesn't close if there is ice on the ground, even if the mayor advises to stay off the roads. No working from home unless it's outside of 8:30am-5pm. Most teams have a quiet, keep to yourself vibe, not typically a fun environment. Demographics: The average age is very young, most under 30, but there are some veterans waiting out retirement. There is an above average amount of females in a low weight class, they are favored and it's obvious in every way. Management: The head person of the office thinks he's the greatest thing to walk this planet. His ideas are the greatest and there can be no other way to succeed in this business unless you work for him, you will be told this. This person directly influences the culture mentioned above. All of the managers below this person are underwriters/baby sitters. Nepotism/Favoritism: This is one of the worst problems in the office. I don't believe someone should get a pass in the door because your mom/dad works here. These people could do no wrong, get put into better situations and could never be fired. They will go to the most golf outings, shop on their phone all day at work 2 hour lunches with dad and the most chances to pass insurance licensing exams(most don't need this though). Everyone knows the situation and there just isn't respect for this in the office. The next part of this is the friends of the higher ups or the friends of the higher ups kids. They will get away with anything and if you bring a problem to the higher ups, they will tell you to mind your own business. Systems: A blast local email to just the approximately 70 people on the office will freeze your computer, this is laughable and just embarrassing for such a large company. You use 2 main systems that barely talk to each other creating a lot of duplication. These systems make no logical sense and are extremely difficult to master. The best thing that helped workflow while there was an excel spreadsheet an X employee built, IT has done nothing to make the systems better or make you more efficient at your job. The data mgmt trusts underwriters to see is useless except to see overall book production. Most data isn't trusted for underwriters to see. Markets: There are a fair amount of in house markets, but I would say half are useless. There are some good brokerage markets, but don't come here to be a broker, not a brokerage mindset atmosphere. The mindset is that the markets are there to burn. Maybe how the name came about. No true partnerships in the traditional way. Underwriting role: This is the impossible job. If you want to grow your book and make good money, you are destined to lose. You are there to build a business they say, but you have no control on who is on your team or their compensation. You will train staff while building a book, which can be done in the early stages. Once you get your assistant trained and productive, management will switch them to another team or promote to an underwriter(you will have no input on how they are progressing, what they know or still need to learn). Now that you have a growing book and a good rhythm and use to have staff with experience, they will give you a new person to train from scratch. You will be doing your job, the work load of your old assistant and training and trying to grow a book so you can make more money. This is the point your book stagnates or shrink until you can get back up to speed with your new team alignment. The other scenario is you have a good assistant and they get poached by a competitor because they were so underpaid and probably unhappy with all of the above. In summary, you are handed usually poor resources to build a team, so the bonus incentive essentially caps out as you are a limited resources and can't do the job of 2 people every time your team is shaken up. This has been repeated over and over again except for some of the veterans. The only way to be successful is to wait everyone out, become a manager, run off your good underwriters(all of the above is enough) and absorb their book; you can easily double your book in 2 years with this approach. Advice to management: Hiring restaurant servers, the hotel cleaning crew and captive agency CSR's is not where you go to find good talent. Stop hiring TCU grads, your getting adverse selection for the most part due to the low starting wage. Do the opposite of almost all your management practices, they are usually backwards to what a logical and methodical leader would do. Create a true training program that teaches the technical side of the business and not just how to type a policy and the Q&A training approach. Listen to your employees, on how they can improve the office, business, systems and whatever else. The few times you do ask for opinions, do it in an approachable atmosphere and not in a fiery meeting where you might fire an employee on a whim for saying something, true story. Overall the B&W model is dated in every which way. You need to improve technology and rethink workload/workflow. For the sake of the ones that are stuck, stop the meaningless reports that track productivity; the reports have very good data, but is trashed on a weekly basis instead of compiling and building off the inputted data. Keep it classy, talking about current/former employees publicly is not achieving what you think it is.

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      25 people found this review helpful
    10. 3.0
      Former Employee

      Houston office

      Jun 17, 2016 -  
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Very casual dress and great atmosphere. Not micromanaged Friendly people

      Cons

      Below average pay. Lots of broken promises Favoritism If you aren't an underwriter you don't matter Poor communication They like to post job openings as Specialty Insurance Trainee but it's not that. It's an assistant job. But they promise you that you will get moved up fast and this is how everyone starts off. Not true.

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      5 people found this review helpful
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