Editor’s Note: Brent Butler is president of Nanbo Insurance Underwriters. He was previously general manager at Nanbo, and formerly president of Guahan Insurance Services Inc., a subsidiary of Nanbo.
Butler holds a 1999 bachelor’s of business administration from San Francisco State University’s College of Business. He became a certified public accountant in 2000.
He holds a number of specialized qualifications in the insurance industry, and is an associate in fidelity and surety bonding, a chartered property casualty underwriter, and an associate in insurances services.
Community service officers Butler has held include treasurer of the Guam Track & Field Association and Secretary and Treasurer of the Insurance Association of Guam.
Q: Nanbo Insurance recently advocated for solar energy in Guam, with a “Go Green, Go Solar” promotion. Why did Nanbo decide to do this?
A: We started making environmental concerns an integral part of our planning and decision-making process about four years ago when we were preparing to celebrate our 50-year anniversary. With the help of Peggy Denney from i* recycle Guam, we conducted a “waste characterization” of our office to see what we were throwing away and contributing to our island’s landfill. Once we knew what types of trash our office generated, we started to segregate our plastic bottles, aluminum cans, tin cans, paper products and glass containers for recycling with the aim of very low volume of garbage that will end up in our landfill. In March 2018, we employed the University of Guam’s Center for Island Sustainability to conduct an energy audit on the Nanbo building in Hagatna to identify ways to reduce our power consumption. In November 2019, we launched our Go Hybrid campaign to encourage automobile owners to consider hybrid cars for future purchases. Our Go Solar promotion, which we launched in June 2021, is another way for us to encourage our customers and community to make sustainable lifestyle choices.
Q: Customers and clients are beginning to pay attention to which companies have a policy of social responsibility. In Guam sustainability is certainly part of the government’s policy and certain companies in our region have espoused such a policy already.
Is social responsibility something Nanbo is looking to develop further? Should companies have such a policy?
A: Yes. Corporate social responsibility is a big thing for us at Nanbo. We are always actively looking for ways to promote a sustainable lifestyle to make a meaningful impact on our island. I think many companies on Guam can benefit from making a commitment to CSR and participating in these initiatives.
Q: As business slowly comes back to Guam are businesses more willing to invest in insurance, or are they still “watching the pennies?”
A: I think companies are always very cost-conscious when it comes to purchasing insurance. With the downturn in our economy, many businesses are still purchasing the bare-minimum coverages required by statute, their bank or their landlord and in some cases choose to retain the risks themselves by not purchasing certain insurance coverages.
Q: Does a business climate like Guam’s — which is still not fully open — affect the underwriting market?
A: Yes. The reduced or suspended operations of many businesses in Guam affect their insurance premiums. The premium basis for some common lines of insurance are annual revenues and salaries and wages. As most businesses have realized a decrease in both revenues and payroll expense this past year, their insurance premiums likely decreased.
However, for other lines of insurance such as property insurance, the risks for fire, earthquakes and typhoons still remain, even if the business is closed and their premiums would not necessarily be reduced.
Q: What drew you to the insurance industry? With a bachelor’s in business administration all sorts of professional paths were open to you.
A: After graduating from San Francisco State University, I joined Ernst & Young (Guam) in October 2000 and passed the CPA exam in November 2001. After nine years at EY, I was ready to take a break from public accounting. Nanbo Insurance had an opening for their senior manager for finance and administration position. I was familiar with Nanbo’s operations and was very happy to be hired.
Q: What advice would you give to somebody with similar initial qualifications who is considering insurance as a long-term career field?
A: I think there are a lot of opportunities to be of value in an insurance company. The interesting thing about the insurance industry is that no one studied insurance in college (it’s not offered as a field of study at most universities), so you have to learn the business as you go.
Insurance is a very data-driven industry and someone with an analytical and growth mindset can contribute by helping a company make effective decisions and help solve problems. mbj