Casey Fenton is 22 years old. She lives just south of Perth in the pleasant suburb of Melville, a mere stone’s thrown from the Swan River.

A little matter of 4000km away, 24-year-old Madeline Barra is located just inland from Townsville in disaster-prone Tropical Far North Queensland.

Even further afield is Ben McKinnie, 23, who has recently upped sticks to Chicago.

The three may be geographically far-flung, but the one thing they all have in common is their broking background, their QPIB status and the belief that, wherever you’re based, QPIB helps open doors and career pathways.

Casey Fenton

Casey Fenton.

Fenton is an Account Executive at Integra Insurance Brokers, based out of Mandurah in WA. Although young, she’s a five-year veteran and a multi-award winner for her broking studies.

Like many of her peers, Fenton fell into insurance, starting out in a receptionist’s role at Integra. Her quick mind and interest in the subject matter quickly ear-marked her as one to watch and she progressed through her Diploma of Insurance Broking studies.

Having achieved her QPIB status in late 2014, Fenton is a great believer that all new entrants to the industry should take a swift and diligent approach to studies should the opportunity present itself.
“I consider broker education important because the insurance industry is an ever changing world. Keeping updated and informed is vital – the learning never stops,” she says.

“The sooner a young broker can begin their diploma studies, the sooner they can begin expanding their broking skills and knowledge. It’s the best way to ensure that you’re up-to-date with the insurance industry.”

Barra concurs. Like Fenton, she made the most of her opportunities in broking after accepting a traineeship with North Queensland Insurance Brokers in 2008. She knuckled down, completed her Diploma studies at a young age and is now a YP of note in her region, winning the coveted Peter McCarthy CQIB Young Professional of the Year Award in 2014.

Madeline Barra.

Madeline Barra.

She didn’t stop there, either. Barra has completed her Advanced Diploma of Insurance Broking, as well as NIBA’s Certified Professional Insurance Broker (CPIB) program, making her one of the best educated young brokers in Australia.And she says the effort is well worth it.

Keeping updated and informed is vital – the learning never stops.

“I think that, particularly for young people, it’s good to obtain skills and qualifications early in your career, before other life commitments are on you.

“As I am young, I rely on broker education to fill the experience gap. Attaining my QPIB status helped me to reach an Account Executive role very early on in my career. The education that is required to be completed in obtaining your QPIB has taught me how to research, analyse, and present information. It’s so useful.”

International opportunities

As Fenton and Barra will attest to, striving for and obtaining QPIB opens doors professionally. But it can also take you further afield. Aon’s Ben McKinnie has found that out himself after achieving a career ambition of being seconded to Aon in the US in 2015.

Ben McKinnie

Ben McKinnie.

He switched sweltering summer in Brisbane for the unforgiving winter of Chicago as a Senior Account Specialist II, but couldn’t be happier. And he’s effusive about the role broker education and QPIB played in helping him achieve this – many other – career milestones.

“Attaining QPIB at the age of 21 was a personal triumph as my age often comes into question for my role. It’s comforting to clients and colleagues to know that, despite my age, I’m qualified,” he says.

As I am young, I rely on broker education to fill the experience gap.

“As a young professional, there is always the chance a client or prospect may not take you seriously because of your age. Being a recognised, qualified professional in your field provides them with the confidence that you know what you’re talking about when you’re in a room of experienced people.”

Of his secondment to Aon in Chicago, McKinnie reveals these are exciting times in a career that has already provided many highs.

“This is an amazing opportunity for a young broker. It just shows what can be achieved with hard work and dedication to your job,” he says.

The bigger picture

McKinnie, Fenton and Barra are not alone. As part of a new campaign aimed at raising awareness of the benefits of young brokers committing to their Diploma studies and seeking to attain QPIB, NIBA is showcasing the stories of eight YPs from across Australia.

How to get QPIB

All aged 26 and under, these rising stars of the insurance broking industry share the common values of pride in their work and a hunger for career-long learning opportunities.

We encourage every young broker to read and share their stories. You can read all about them at niba.com.au/youngqpib

You can also look out for them in a series of promotional advertisements in Gazette and Insurance & Risk Professional magazine over the coming months.

If you’re a young QPIB aged 26 and under and want to share your story, contact nmaidment@niba.com.au