Since taking up the reins of NIBA, outgoing President David Wyner has overseen some big, high-profile wins. Like NIBA ensuring insurance brokers were largely exempted from FOFA reforms. Or seeing new life and vigour breathed into the annual NIBA Convention.

But what he describes as his proudest moment is in fact something that may have passed many brokers by – NIBA’s hosting of the World Federation of Insurance Intermediaries earlier this year.

“The World Federation is something that gives us a much broader view on how we approach challenges for the industry in Australia,” Wyner says. “Seeing and talking to representatives from the whole of the broking world has cemented in my mind that we do a really good job in Australia and that there are lots of lessons that our international counterparts can learn from us. In fact, they have often asked for help and guidance around the things we do exceptionally well.

“While we’re sitting here struggling away thinking that we need to do this and we need to do that, in actual fact what we already produce is absolutely world-class.”

Difficulties ahead

Despite this, there are looming challenges on the regulatory front. Large-scale failures in the wealth management sector have the government spotlight fixed firmly on professionalism in the financial services industry, with ASIC recently renewing calls for a national examination.

“Historically, we’ve often been tarred with the same brush as financial planners and the like but historically we have also been very successful in presenting our sector of the financial services industry as reliable, trustworthy and robust,” Wyner says.

“We’re generally pretty successful in putting an argument in front of regulators that makes them think twice about lumping up us in with the wider sector and making things too onerous for us.

People don’t trust brands. They trust people.

“I think it should concern brokers that ASIC is taking the stance of trying to re-educate the whole industry through examinations rather than looking at other options. If they do go down that path it’s of great importance to every broker because it’s going to cost us all time and money.”

However, Wyner says NIBA is very well positioned to demonstrate the existing professionalism of brokers. “We have many people with a very good skills and experience and they are not causing any problems in the community.”

A high bar for ARs

Wyner sees fostering that professionalism as essential to brokers maintaining relevance in coming years. In order to counteract the rise of direct offerings and price competition, Wyner says brokers have to cement their position with the likes of accountants and lawyers in the pantheon of trusted business advisers.

David Wyner on:

“People don’t trust brands,” he says. “They trust people.” That belief is part of Wyner’s faith in the authorised representative (AR) model. “I think the clients are looking for a more personalised service. They’re looking for more personal dedication in their broker and I think although multinationals have wonderful skills and tremendous resources sometimes people just want to know who they are dealing with,” he says.

“I don’t mean to take away from the multinationals because there is a place for all of us in the market but there are a lot of clients who are saying ‘I want to know my broker more intimately. I want to know what sort of person they are, where they come from’. It’s all moving to much more relationship-based transactions and that’s why a good AR can do so well.”

Day job

Helping ARs do well is something very much on Wyner’s mind and handing over the NIBA presidency will free more of his time for Reliance, the AR network where he is Managing Partner and from which he expects big growth.

“I’m really looking forward to continuing to run the Reliance model and expand our network,” he says. “Brokers have discovered that having some sort of physical representation in as many areas as possible is the way to go. People want to see people. They trust people and want to know there is someone around.

“That’s what the Reliance model is about. We are putting people in local communities that are experienced, that know what they’re talking about, that are prepared to put themselves out there.”

NIBA CEO Dallas Booth says the association has greatly appreciated Wyner’s efforts. “It has been a particularly busy two years for David in his professional life, but his support and commitment to the NIBA cause has been first class,” he says.

“We’re very pleased that David will remain on the board so we can continue to benefit from his experience and enthusiasm in the years to come – and of course David will return to the role of NIBA Convention Chairman in 2015, allowing our members a great opportunity to enjoy his company once more.”