Strength in Numbers
2/1/2016Thomas P. Smith Jr.
In business, true success comes not from the occasional big sale or banner year, but from consistent, positive results. Likewise, the integrity of a business comes not from profits or earnings, but from honest, dedicated service and ethical consistency.
Throughout its history, the Knights of Columbus has worked diligently to be a successful business of utmost integrity. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our professional agency force and the unwavering trust of brother Knights, we have built a legacy of lasting strength that Knights everywhere can be proud of.
Three numbers help to tell our story today.
This past year marked the 15th consecutive year of insurance sales growth for the Knights of Columbus, and the streak continues amid a turbulent economic cycle.
The 2008 economic collapse and recession, and the ensuing near-zero interest rate environment, were tough on most companies. They were especially tough on the insurance industry. Nevertheless, the Knights of Columbus successfully navigated these troubled waters to achieve 15 consecutive years of sales growth.
When customers were turning away from other businesses, wondering whom they could trust, members of the Knights of Columbus continued to believe in the strength of our business and the value of our products. And we continued to rely on a tried-and-true system that puts members first, with a sales model grounded on the personal relationship forged between a member and his brother Knight agent.
Ours may be an unconventional approach in a rapidly changing industry, but it has ultimately been a major reason for our success. Purchasing life insurance is an important, personal decision that requires the purchaser to think seriously about his economic picture, his future and his family. With most other insurance companies, it’s a decision that one may make in isolation and without adequate guidance. Or perhaps it is a decision made with a stranger — a broker or a salesman whom the purchaser has never met before.
With the Knights of Columbus, it is a decision that members make with a brother Knight — someone who shares a common bond, who cares about them and their family and who will be there to help when they need it most.
This relationship is built on trust, and it builds trust too. This is the basis of our slogan “insurance by brother Knights, for brother Knights,” and it has been the reason for our continued success.
“Insurance by brother Knights, for brother Knights” also means that we put our members and their families at the forefront of every decision we make. While companies typically concern themselves with profitability above all else, this is simply not the way the Knights of Columbus does business, as the supreme knight has said on countless occasions.
The Knights’ ethical integrity is not a mere assertion, but an acknowledged reality. Last March, for the second consecutive year, our commitment to ethical practice and governance was recognized by the Ethisphere Institute, which named the Knights of Columbus a 2015 World’s Most Ethical Company®. This evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of all aspects of a business’ operation, including its corporate citizenship and responsibility, its culture of ethics, its governance and its leadership, innovation and reputation. The Knights was one of only three recipients in the life insurance category.
Such an honor, and similar recognition in the past, attests to the depth and breadth of our ethical commitment. Moreover, it demonstrates that we take our duty to our members, to their families, to our communities — and to our founder — very seriously.
Taking this duty seriously has had positive consequences. For example, last August, the Knights of Columbus earned the highest possible rating for financial strength by ratings agency A.M. Best — for the 40th consecutive year. There is no more highly rated life insurer in North America.
“Through conservative management, active fraternalism and high-quality insurance products, the fraternal society has grown to a multi-billion dollar international insurance organization,” A.M. Best said of the Knights of Columbus.
In short, the trust that members continue to place in the Knights of Columbus, coupled with the ethical, moral and subsequently conservative approach we employ, has enabled us to run a successful, sound business that brother Knights everywhere can take pride in.
Everything that we do ultimately points back to the founding mission of our venerable founder: to protect Catholic families. It is a testament to Father McGivney’s vision that the Knights of Columbus has grown to become one of the largest life insurers in North America and the largest Catholic insurer by far.
Just as Father McGivney hoped, the Order has been able to build upon the bonds of brotherhood to help Catholic families secure the financial protection they need. It is a unique arrangement that has led to lasting strength the likes of which no one — save, perhaps, Father McGivney himself — could have imagined.
THOMAS P. SMITH JR. is the chief insurance officer of the Knights of Columbus.