A passionate advocate for the profession and manager who leads with empathy and a sense of purpose, NIBA’s newest board director, Rebecca Wilson from Austbrokers ABS and is quietly making her mark in an industry known for traditional values.
Insurance Adviser: What immediate and not-so immediate challenges do you foresee for the insurance broking profession?
Rebecca Wilson: We may not always know the exact nature of what we’re going to face but it is safe to assume that there will be transformation in the immediate as well as the distant future.
We will face significant disruption, the changing world around us and the regulatory upheavals will alter the way we conduct business. The insurance industry has always been perceived as traditional with a set way of doing things, suddenly now we’re working with millennials, people with new ideas, we’re investing as well as working alongside insurtechs who could enhance and complement our offering but could also disrupt us.
We come from a lot of legacy and history which I love but the new entrants into the industry and our clients are looking to the future, they are not just looking for positive outcomes but critically observing the process that leads to the outcomes.
We need to keep the integrity and professionalism of our traditional values but need to move with the times, it is a hard balance but not impossible.
IA: What is the biggest change you have witnessed in your time in insurance broking?
RW: I think it is probably the current change in market conditions, it is the hardest I’ve ever seen. Relationships with clients are critical at this juncture as they need us even more while it gets more difficult to place risks.
IA: What according to you are the qualities of a good leader/manager?
RW: The ability to listen, learn and team up with people who have difference view-points while leading a business with honesty and integrity.
I believe that a good leadershould demonstrate their competence, commitment, passion and inspire others with honesty, integrity and sense of purpose. I care about the people I work with; I strive to be sensitive to their needs and ensure that I communicate that to my team regularly.
I want to lead with balance, using the length and breadth of knowledge we already have in the industry combined with new ideas and technology, it is what will keep us relevant.
IA: What have been the highlights of your career so far?
RW: There have been several things, being appointed to the NIBA Board has been a major highpoint, it’s something I am really excited about, becoming the General Manager at Austbrokers ABS was another quite phenomenal moment in my career.
It all started with winning the 2010 Warren Tickle Memorial Award – it instilled confidence in me regarding my potential. It gave me permission to celebrate my achievements and a real sense of pride in our profession, our business, my colleagues and myself which has been great.
IA: What do you think makes insurance an interesting career choice?
RW: Insurance is an integral part of the hyper-connected world we live in today, it is an industry that is constantly evolving and offers many diverse options, one can thrive in this world for decades.
We literally are the backbone of everything that happens in the world and the wider community needs to know more about the wonderful aspects of the profession.
For me, one of the best parts of in running a business in the insurance profession is the community work that we do – we support charities financially and personally. Having a corporate professional footprint that supports not-for-profit is a wonderful thing.
IA: What can broking learn from other professions?
RW: I think the number of overall Royal Commissions – not just in financial services, should be a wake-up call to all of us as professionals. My takeaway from the sheer number of them is that we need to be alert to the minutest changes in culture and conduct.
Whether it is manufacturing or aged-care or legal, there are certain behaviours that are just not acceptable but there are rising instances of them. It is really important that we learn from each of these instances to ensure our profession is all about ethical behaviour, unparalleled competence and utmost professionalism.
IA: As a manager, what are you most passionate about?
RW: I am passionate about maintaining a mentally healthy workplace for myself and my team, I believe a productive workplace that supports people is heavily linked to having open and honest communications. Workplace harmony is a crucial element of a healthy culture that benefits us as well as our clients.
IA: Why are charitable causes so important to you?
RW: I am a huge believer in equality because I have been privileged to receive equal opportunity in my life.
There are people out there who are left to fend for themselves after facing difficult circumstances whether it is illness or disaster or trauma or troubled youth or homelessness. They are treated differently and that robs them of an opportunity to have a better life.
We are so lucky to live in a country like Australia where there is enough to go around. Sure, there is medicare and there are different government services but why wouldn’t we lend support when we’re in position to do so?
IA: Why is NIBA important to you?
RW: There is no one else, no other industry body, no other cluster group or international brand that can do what NIBA does. To me NIBA is important because it brings our profession together and the advocacy and lobbying that Dallas and the team do for us is not something anyone else can do for us. NIBA keeps us relevant, protected and keeps us together as a profession.
IA: What do you hope to achieve with your presence on the NIBA Board?
RW: I hope my presence on the board can further enhance the good work that the body does but I also hope to become a voice for NIBA in the profession. A strong representative body made of active members is good for all of us and our businesses.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
How would you describe your leadership style?
What would you tell your younger self?
Recognise your potential at a younger age.
What is the most important question when hiring someone?
What is important to you when it comes to your colleagues and culture.
What is your favourite holiday destination?
What do you do to unwind?
I meditate, practice mindfulness and I am very aware of my well-being.
Last good film you watched?
A Star is Born.
What excites you right now?
I am going to Mexico in a couple weeks and am really excited about the trip.