Ari Gold: Agent or Underwriter?

Ari Gold has to be my favourite character in Entourage, closely followed by Jonny Drama, and if you’ve never seen Entourage, get yourself on iTunes because you’re missing out. Entourage is about the movie star, Vincent Chase or Vinny, who moves himself, his 2 closest friends and his brother out to LA where they live the dream, hitting LA’s party scene and occasionally working. Ari Gold is Vinny’s agent, a smooth talking, cheeky chap who has an answer for everything and knows everyone. He can move mountains and make dreams come true.

I know what you’re thinking, how is Ari Gold anything like an insurance underwriter? Actually, Ari Gold wouldn’t be just any underwriter, he would be a Chief Underwriting Officer that’s at the top of his game, sitting at his Syndicate’s box in Lloyd’s of London underwriting the sexiest risks with the juiciest premiums, with his own investors behind him.

I didn’t answer the question, did I. Well, let’s have a look at Ari’s business.

Ari has his clients – let’s call these clients risks. He has his movie star risks like Vinny who are the most volatile and he has his TV presenter risks, which make up the smaller, more stable risks. His clients like Vinny pay him a commission for being on his books. In much the same way, a company would pay an underwriter a premium to take on a risk, although the premium is paid up front.

In return for Ari getting Vinny work, Ari takes a cut of Vinny’s pay check. If Ari was an underwriter, he’d be selling financial security instead of people, and companies would buy Ari’s insurance products to effectively manage their risk.

Now taking on Vinny as a client can only be compared to an underwriter insuring an oil rig, or reinsuring a property portfolio in Florida – it’s extremely risky, but the payoffs are huge. Taking on Vinny as a client means dealing with his volatile behaviour. Every time Ari rings up Vinny’s manager, E (E would be the insurance broker), telling him to slap his boy back into line, he’s managing his risk. He’s minimising his downside risk by putting in place strategies to keep Vincent straight. Underwriters also manage their risk, however they do it by ensuring they are not too financially exposed, limiting the cover they offer and ensuring the correct working practices are in place within the business they’re insuring.

However, even Ari can’t smooth talk Vincent out of trouble all the time and like at the end of season 7, Vinny ends up in rehab after dating Sasha Grey, partying too hard and getting into a fight with Eminem. Although we don’t know, this could have damaged Ari financially – either because Vincent and therefore Ari didn’t get paid, or because there is a clause in the contract stating the agent is financially responsible if one of their clients can’t finish filming or there is a possibility that Vinny’s behaviour might have damaged Ari’s reputation, meaning future revenue generation may be effected. However the financial repercussions occur, Ari would suffer a big loss.

As the underwriter, you will have to pay claims, that’s the nature of the beast and you are financially responsible if and when that oil platform explodes, or if a hurricane rips through your client’s property portfolio. This will mean you have a financial obligation to pay your portion of the loss and you will inevitably have to explain why you were exposed to that risk to your investors.

So although on the outside, being an agent and being an underwriter could be seen as being opposite ends of the spectrum, actually they are closer than you think and Ari could make an excellent underwriter.

So who is who:

Ari is the Chief Underwriting Officer of his syndicate, dealing with the biggest, most prestigious risks (Vinny), whilst employing other underwriters (Lloyd Lee and Lizzy Grant) to look after the more mainstream business (Jonny Drama and David Schwimmer). Ari controls his business, hires agents and is constantly networking, winning risks and building his business.

Bab’s is the syndicate’s Chief Operating Officer, making sure everything is running smoothly in the background.

Andrew Klein’s literary agency would be another Lloyd’s syndicate with a book of high net worth individuals (say) which grows when put under the Miller Gold banner.

Vinny is the prestigious risk that is being insured, and E is Vinny’s broker.

So if fancy yourself as a Ari’s protégé, maybe you should consider underwriting.


Fancy doing what E does? Read, ‘Why Don Draper would make it as a broker‘.

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