James Chalmers: You’ve been a long-time supporter of the NIBA Convention. How did it feel to have your name read out as the winner of the Lex McKeown Trophy at this year’s event?
Terry Lane: It was quite emotional, as anyone there would have noticed. For many years, they would read out descriptions of what the winner had done and I would sometimes think it might be me but then they would veer off in another direction.
But this time I had no idea it was coming. I’ve always thought I know what I’m going to say if I get called up there but I was almost speechless.
It was very emotive to hear [NIBA President] David Wyner read out all the things I’d done. I’ve always just got on and done things and not looked for recognition but one of the things that got me was a number of people who I’d never seen or heard of before who came up and said, “I didn’t realise what you’d done.” Not many people knew that my partner and I started OAMPS way back.
It’s a fantastic thing, to get that acknowledgement. I’ve loved every minute of being a member of NIBA. I was on the board when our two old organisations got together and I’ve always been heavily involved in the education side. I’ve been state chairman and been involved in a lot of things along the journey.
JC: What was your start to broking?
TL: I was 15 years old and looking for a job. At school, I had been more focused on playing sport than studying and my mother said: “Well, you had your opportunity. Get out and get a job”. So I started with Phoenix in 1958. My first job was using a rubber stamp to change the manager’s name on the renewals because he’d retired, and I buggered that up. I got them all out of sequence.
JC: When you launched the Oil Agents Mutual Provident Society, which became OAMPS, in 1976 did you have any inkling of how large it could become?
TL: We were pretty excited about it but we had no conception of what was possible. It all happened because we became specialists and got introduced to other organisations because of what we’d done. We started with fuel transport and then we set up a program for the nurserymen. After that, we did earthmovers and it just kept going.
It’s a fantastic thing, to get that acknowledgement. I’ve loved every minute of being a member of NIBA.
We never splashed ourselves around. People used to run around saying “Who the hell is OAMPS?” I said to my partner is, “Don’t tell anybody in the industry about who we are and what we’re doing because they’ll want to knock us off.” But we went from strength to strength. When I left after 16 years, we had 19 offices, in all the states, in New York and in the UK and we had about 160-odd people.
JC: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry in your time?
TL: There is much more competition now. While brokers are fewer in numbers, they are much more aggressive and I think the introduction of ARs is a problem and will become a bigger problem going forward. They are all about making a dollar and I think that can come at the cost of professionalism – certainly not with all of them but with some.
I think the compliance requirements are strong so it comes down to the principals employing these ARs to make sure they act in a professional manner. In turn, I think the underwriters have got to do a bit more and say, “Look, we won’t deal with this guy or with that person because we’ve had issues.”
We have ARs ourselves and we are very, very particular. It has to be our way. It’s our reputation, not theirs.
JC: What was your motivation for your deep involvement with NIBA over the years?
TL: I have always believed that if you are involved in something you’ve got to put the effort in. I did it the same thing with my surf club and my squash club, and even my tennis club and golf club, for that matter.
You get more out of it than what you put in. You learn so much. I was not very good at talking to groups of people initially and I struggled around the NIBA boardtable. I got a lot better though.