Monthly Archives: September 2017

The Role of Managing General Agents

Managing General Agents (MGAs) are leaders of the wholesale insurance market place and function as an intermediary managing the relationships among policy holders, retail producers and the insurance carriers. These agents provide underwriting and administrative services and have the authority to accept and appoint placement from retail agents on behalf of the insurers they represent. Generally, MGAs market more unusual coverage, such as professional liability, for which a particular expertise is required. Insurers benefit from MGAs where such expertise is not available within the company and would be costly to develop.

The purpose of MGAs hired by insurance companies is to supervise their business in a particular territory and they are often referred to as wholesalers, but in no way do they compete with brokers and do not deal with customers directly. MGAs have a unique relationship with their carriers. Depending on the relationship, a MGA may perform tasks normally performed by an insurer; which include, handling claims, issuing policies, sub-contracting with independent agents, collecting premiums and negotiating commissions to name a few. As agents of the insurer, they perform the basic insurance functions for the carrier of underwriting and policy issuance.

According to the American Association of Managing General Agents, an MGA can be used in any line of insurance and includes insurers who are “admitted or not, direct or otherwise, broker or agent system, contract/appoint or open-broker sub-production, or any combination of these.” Typically, MGAs are utilized most in the excess and surplus lines insurance market, but are also found in the commercial and personal insurance market.

When thinking about how MGAs work, it’s best to consider traditional insurance market access where it flows from the insurance company to the retail agent and finally to the insurance buyer. Now consider how the surplus lines market access flows. It works in much the same fashion with one major difference. The MGA acts as the intermediate between the insurer and the agent. In this way, market access flows from the insurance company, to the intermediary, the retail/out of state agent and finally to the buyer.

MGAs are generally entitled to a contingency commission on all business written within their territory. They take a percentage of the commission that would usually go to the producing insurance agent. Being an MGA means personal accountability as well as responsibility for producers. MGAs take on the significant costs involved in being a wholesaler and the investment needed to succeed.

Does Your Pool Cue Matter? The Truth About Modern High Technology Pool Cues

I started playing pool at the young age of 7 years old, during the winters growing up in northern Maine when the temperature reached 50 below zero and it was too cold to ski. The rec room at Loring AFB had a couple of pool tables, and as a very athletic kid I had a natural curiosity about the game, and after watching a few games I was invited by one of the airmen to play a game with him. He showed me how to hold the cue stick and make a bridge, and got me a little wooden box to stand on so I could reach the table. It didn’t take long for me to become addicted to the game, and soon invited my friends to play. We spent many a cold winter day inside that rec room, playing for hours, making up our own rules and games, and eventually even betting nickel candy bars on the outcome. Yeah, we were big spenders!

When summer hit, we put the cues away and played baseball all day long. My dream, since I was 5 and saw the Dodgers play in Los Angeles several times before my dad was transferred to Loring, was to be a pro baseball player, and I eventually got a baseball scholarship to college in Texas, where my dad retired in 1966. Through the years, every spare hour not spent practicing baseball was spent in a pool hall, and after my baseball career ended with a torn pitching shoulder, pool became my number 1 interest. I won my first tournament when I was 17, at a bar that my sister worked at, and won a cue stick as first prize. I was thrilled beyond belief, until I screwed the stick together and rolled it across the table. To my horror, it rolled like a corkscrew, being so warped as to be unplayable! Back to playing with a bar stick!

For the next 20 years, I hustled pool where ever I was working at the time. I drilled oil wells all over the country, and made as much money hustling the roughnecks after their shift as I did from my salary. As a mud engineer, I was responsible for checking many different rigs daily, and got to know, and play against, hundreds of different pool players each year. Moving around the country to different areas on a yearly basis, I was able to keep under the radar and remain a relative unknown, so it was never any trouble to get a money game going. I don’t think I ever met a roughneck who didn’t play pool, and most of them had a pretty high opinion of their game. That usually changed when it came time to pay up!

In 1989 I met the Alexander brothers on a golf course in Dallas. Nick, a lawyer, had founded Clicks Billiards many years before, and now had a total of 20 pool halls from Phoenix to Florida, with his original pool hall right there in Dallas at Abrams Rd. and Northwest Highway. Greg, his brother, was the General Manager, and responsible for hiring managers for all 20 of their pool halls. By this time I had retired from the oil business, and made my living on the golf course and pool halls every day. Greg and Nick were both members of Sleepy Hollow Country Club in south Dallas, where I hustled golf every day. Greg was a 3 handicap, and after I had played with him 3 or 4 days a week for several months ( and took quite a bit of money from him), he asked me if I played pool. Heh heh heh. “A little bit”, I said, and he took me that night to the original Clicks Billiards, to try to win a little of his money back.

After he paid up the hundred I beat him out of that night, he offered me a job, as assistant manager of the original Clicks. He knew I had never bar tended before, but assured me I would pick it up quickly, and would fit right in with the pool players who made up their core customer base. Was he ever right! I took to it like a duck to water, and ended up meeting most of the best pool players in Dallas, and some of the best in the country. Clicks had several exhibitions, including one by Grady Matthews, and one by Ewa Mataya, the Striking Viking. Clicks was also where I met CJ Wiley, the road player who won the ESPN Ultimate Nine Ball Challenge in 1995 or 96. There were many, many top notch professional players at Clicks, with many a $1,000 game of one pocket going on day and night, with lots of major Dallas bookies bankrolling a lot of the action, and sweaters on the rail by the dozens, just watching…or praying, lol.

CJ rolled into Clicks in 1990, and proceeded to terrorize the local pros. He was an instant legend, steamrolling every major player in town. Guys who scared the dickens out of me would not even touch CJ when he offered them the 5 and out. His rep grew, and his ranking did too, eventually reaching #4 or 5 in the world of Pool. Working there, I became fast friends with CJ, and when he opened up his own room in Dallas, CJ’s Billiard Palace, I eventually quit Clicks and went over to manage CJ’s place. When he opened up, 90% of the action, and pro players, went with him. He had 12 Gold Crowns, as opposed to the 4 at Clicks, a kitchen, and was open 24 hours. The action never stopped.

So what, you ask, does all this have to do with the title topic? I bought my first cue, a Thomas Wayne model, in 91, and while it was beautiful, with lots of gorgeous inlays, and very responsive, it really did nothing to improve my game. I played with it for 3 years until it was stolen, and I loved the cue, but I could play just as well with a bar cue, providing it was the right weight and had a good tip. I spent 700 dollars for the cue, but I really didn’t need to. It did not give me any advantage over a house cue.

I had a severe back injury in 1994, that made me quit playing golf and pool. I didn’t want to risk an operation, and it wasn’t until 2008 that I got some non-narcotic medication from the V.A. that let me bend over the table again without excruciating pain. By this time, Predator Cues had come out with a 10 piece shaft that was hollow at the tip, significantly reducing cue ball deflection at impact…or so they claimed. Having been away from the game for 14 years, I had read little about these cues, and was intrigued, to say the least.

For those of you reading this who don’t know what cue ball deflection is, here it is in a nut shell: When a cue ball is struck to either side of the vertical axis…the center line….the cue ball will deflect, or “squirt” in the opposite direction. So if you hit the cue ball using right ‘english’…hitting the cue ball right of the vertical center line…the cue ball will deflect to the left, and vice versa.. The amount of deflection varies, depending on speed of the stroke, the distance from the center line (or tip offset) the cue ball is struck, and the mass of the tip. In other words, the more english you apply, the harder the stroke, and the bigger the mass of the tip…..these factors will all increase the amount of deflection, or squirt. This squirt must be compensated for when aiming, or you will miss the shot quite often.

This is where the Predator technology comes into play. With a small hollow space at the end of the tip, the reduced mass drastically reduced the amount of deflection by allowing the cue ball to push the shaft out of the way at impact, instead of the shaft pushing the cue ball out of the way. The 314 shaft became very popular immediately with professionals, and the Z shaft reduced deflection even more by reducing the tip size from 12.75mm to 11.75mm. A shorter ferrule also helped reduce mass, and therefore reduce deflection even more. Independent testing has the Z² shaft and the 314² shaft from Predator as being the #1 and #2 shafts in the world in causing the least amount of deflection. Predator cues and shafts are used by over half of the top 40 professionals, 3 of the top 5 women professionals, and over 35,000 players worldwide, according to the Predator web site. These professionals are not paid to play these cues. They play them because their living depends on their playing ability, which is enhanced with this high-tech equipment.

Since Predator led the way in the mid 90’s, many companies have now joined the technology revolution. Lucasi Hybrid Cues offers the Zero Flex Point shaft on all their hybrid models. This shaft has technology similar to the Predator shafts to drastically reduce deflection. They offer these shafts with many joint types to fit most cues made today. World Champion Thorsten Hohmann from Germany now plays Lucasi Hybrid.

The OB-1 and OB-2 shafts also offer low deflection technology, and John Schmidt recently changed to the OB cue. He said he ran over 400 balls playing straight pool, the second day he used the OB shaft.

I had to try out one of these cues myself, and I must say: I love the new high-tech pool cues. I play with a Predator 5K3, and despite not having played in 14 years, my game has ascended to a level way higher than I ever played before. The reduced deflection makes the hard shots using english much simpler, by reducing the amount of compensation for squirt.

In summation, the advance of technology has shortened the learning curve for beginning and intermediate players by reducing cue ball deflection, and requiring much less compensation for the squirt effect. And the pros, who make their living with a cue? Nearly all of them play a low-deflection shaft of some kind. Why wouldn’t they? If they don’t, their competitors (who all do) will take the money.

While Predator remains the benchmark for low deflection, they are also not cheap. The retail price for a Z² shaft is nearly $300, but the new Lucasi Hybrid Cues, with similar technology (and also new grip technology to reduce impact vibration) are a good lower priced alternative. For less than the price of a Predator Z² shaft alone, your can get an outstanding Lucasi Hybrid [http://www.poolsharkcues.com/product_info.php?cPath=6&products_id=78/] that has advanced low-deflection technology and plays fantastically well. If a World Champion like Thorsten Hohmann is playing a Lucasi Hybrid, you KNOW it is an outstanding cue.

So think long and hard when purchasing a new cue stick. If you don’t use a cue with modern low-deflection technology, chances are your opponent will be. Everything else being equal, a modern low-deflection cue, or an older cue with a new low-deflection shaft, is going to win the vast majority of the time. Greatly improved accuracy will make it so.

Managerial Economics – Application of Economic Theory in Solving Business Problems!

Managerial economics is concerned with various micro and macro economic tools and the analysis of which can be used in managerial decision making to solve business problems. Micro economic tools that are used in this subject include demand analysis, production and cost analysis, break-even analysis, pricing theory and practice, technical progress, location decisions and capital budgeting. The macro economic concepts that are directly or indirectly relevant to managerial decision-making comprise national income analysis, business cycles, monetary policy, fiscal policy, central banking, government finance, economic growth, international trade, balance of payments, free trade protectionism, exchange rates and international monetary system.

The scope of this managerial science is wide and it has close connections with economic theory, decision sciences and accountancy. Traditional economics talks about the theory and methodology while managerial economics applies economic theory and methodology to solve business problems. It uses the tools and techniques of analysis to provide with optimal solutions to business problems.

  • Relationship with economics:

Managerial economics borrows concepts from economics just as engineering does from physics and medicine from biology. The analysis of both micro and macro economic concepts add valuable inputs to the organization. Say, national income forecasting is an important aid to business condition analysis which in turn could be a priceless input for forecasting the demand for specific product groups. The theories of market structure can be analyzed for the purpose of market segmentation.

  • Relationship with decision sciences:

Decision models are created to format the solutions for problem situations and the process utilizes techniques like, optimization, differential calculus and mathematical programming. This also helps to analyze the impact of alternate course of action and evaluate the results obtained form the model.

  • Relationship with accounting:

Accounting data and statements constitute the language of business. The accounting profession considerably influences cost and revenue information and their classification. A manager should therefore be familiar with the generation, interpretation and use of accounting data. Accounting moreover is viewed as a management decision tool and not anymore as a mere practice of bookkeeping. The concepts and practices of accounting can be very well applied to improve the economic scope of a project.

Economics is an interesting subject as it deals with the day-to-day problems of a common man and at the same time is concerned with the economic prosperity of a country as a whole. Its primary focus is on scarce resource allocations among competing ends. Individuals, enterprises and nations face problems of resource allocation. Managerial economics may be viewed as economics applied to problem solving at the level of the firm.