On Thursday, February 6, 2014, the new class of CRMER risk fellows traveled to Overland Park to meet with junior and senior staff from the Agricultural Investment division of MetLife. The day started with an overview of the company and was followed by a senior executive led panel discussion. It was a great kick off to the field visits programmed for our group.
During the Overview, Daniel Serna, the agricultural field representative for the area of Texas and Eastern Oklahoma, and Laura Linden, a senior analyst, both at the agricultural investment division, caught our attention by putting the overall company purpose into a simple phrase, “To help other people manage their risk”. They addressed topics such as how the division manages their risk and what is the borrowing process like for their customers. An interesting facet of the company was the way they manage their relationships with customers. Good customer relations require on-site visits as well as understanding the customer’s individual character and financial position.
We received a brief background of MetLife and how the company operates. MetLife began in 1863 and has since become a global corporation. A few of the well-known services provided by MetLife include insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs. They are a major presence in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, serving over 90 million customers. The agricultural investment division serves the United States and Brazil with farm and ranch, food and agribusiness and timberland real estate loans. Each of the agricultural categories is subdivided into fields. The farm and ranch division deals with permanent crops, annual crops and livestock production. The agribusiness sector includes warehouses, biofuels and processing. Finally, timber services cover production and processing.
Students then had the unique opportunity to discuss a variety of topics with the senior panelists. A majority of the panelists have worked with MetLife for over twenty years. Each panelist shared their background and career path with MetLife. Then discussion turned to how they deal with risk in their daily activities within the company. They also shared what characteristics they look for in their potential customers and explained that they try to match the company’s purpose with the purpose of their customers. Another interesting topic the students and panelists discussed included the challenges and opportunities they foresee within agriculture in the near future. The discussion ended with an overview of the political risk associated with this type of business.
The CRMER student fellows deeply appreciate the team at MetLife’s attention and all their valuable knowledge shared during the visit. Their willingness to engage in the discussion and address our inquiries was a valuable insight into their area of business and risk management. The K-State Center for Risk Management Education and Research is looking forward to building a great relationship with MetLife.
Mario, MaryLynn, Thomas and Kurtis