Argo Group Case Study

High Performing Talent Leads to Stock Improvement

No. of Employees: 1,300
Industry: Global Insurance


  • Improved from 51% to 96% A Players hired and promoted in management (AVP and above)
  • 15%+ compounded stock performance since Topgrading
  • Sales increase from $200 million in 2000 to $3 billion in 2020

The Company

Since 1957, Argo has worked with independent agents, wholesale brokers and retail brokerage partners to become a leader in the international specialty insurance marketplace.

When Mark Watson took over the company in 2000, the stock had tanked. Watson approached Brad Smart at a YPO presentation saying, "I want to create a successful company."

Solutions and Results

Argo contracted Topgrading to:

  • License the Topgrading software platform
  • Train all managers in the hiring methodology
  • Over time, certify internal trainers for Topgrading train-the-trainer
  • Conduct Topgrading Interviews of candidates for senior positions, where the cost of a hiring mistake was extremely high
  • Periodically assess and coach the top team

Use of the Topgrading methodology led to an improvement in Argo's hiring and promoting from 51% to 96% high performers. The improved talent drove the company's success, leading to sales increase from $200 Million in 2000 to $3 Billion in 2020, and 15%+ compounded stock performance since Topgrading began.

"Argo is more successful as a company because Topgrading has resulted in a higher percentage of A Players."

- Mark Watson, CEO

Quotes from Interview with CEO Mark Watson

  • We’re a capital intensive company, but a lot of our capital is intellectual capital, our people, and so much of our success is making sure we have the very best people that we can have.
  • We use Topgrading at all levels of the organization. It starts with me. I’ve done Topgrading Interviews on every single employee that reports to me directly — even incumbent employees on my management team. I expect all managers to do the same with their subordinates and cascade it all the way down through the organization.
  • Topgrading taught us to measure the costs of all mis-hires, and of course we’ve had a few, even after launching Topgrading. The financial costs and the time wasted are always way above what we initially thought. That exercise motivates us to stick with the Topgrading disciplines.
  • With Topgrading, you don’t need as many people. Instead of 12 on a team you might just need 8 people – and at least 7 are A Players. Not only are As more productive individually but they work better as team players. And A teams are happier – they like working with one another and like being in a successful company, where there are growth opportunities.
  • Just because somebody is a C Player in the role they're in – assuming they’re committed to the company – doesn’t mean that you can’t retool them into another role in the company where they would be an A Player. We use Topgrading methods to assess and coach a lot of people, and not only have we transferred some Bs and Cs into jobs where they became As, a few Bs and Cs were coached and became As in their current job.
  • We Topgrade in all the countries we’re in. Initially there is resistance but as soon as they see the results, managers everywhere get on board.

Talk to an advisor to see how Topgrading can help your organization.

Improve your hiring success with Topgrading. The Topgrading methodology will transform your hiring process by increasing the number of A player hires and decreasing the number of mis-hires. Our leadership and candidate assessment tools will help you assess, hire, retain, and grow high performing teams. Contact us to learn more about the Topgrading approach to hiring and start achieving better hiring results now!

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