It’s no rarity for insurance brokers to profess that they fell into the industry serendipitously, but Jeremy Thornton had a unique path to broking even by those standards.
Having made his way to managerial positions in radio broadcasting throughout NSW, Thornton jumped ship in search of a new challenge.
“I guess, like most people in this industry, I kind of stumbled into insurance. I was in the media industry full-time for 13 years and had pretty much reached every goal I wanted to achieve,” Thornton says.
“I became a bit disheartened with radio. I was about to get married, and wanted to have a mortgage and kids. My fiancé and I moved to Toowoomba at the same time that the Suncorp bought GIO.
They set up their inbound domestic call centre and there were 150 jobs. I thought surley I could talk my way into one of those.”
After spending 18 months with GIO, Thornton took a broking position with Austbrokers and then, following that, Lumley. He took every opportunity to learn about the area of insurance he wanted to pursue.
“I started broking and it opened my eyes up to the world of business insurance and how important it is for clients. It became a real passion of mine from there,” Thornton explains.
“I really wanted to work for a general insurance company on the business side to get a firmer understanding of what it’s all about and how it all works, how the claims process works, how setting rates works, how underwriting works. That turned me into a better broker.”
The next level
Thornton had spent almost 10 years building his skill set before attending NIBA College. It wasn’t until he and his wife decided to start their own brokerage – Complete Risk Solutions, an Authorised Representative of Insurance Advisernet Australia – that he knew it was time to take his training a step further.
He set out to earn a Diploma of Insurance Broking from NIBA College to validate his position within the region as a reliable, expert insurance professional.
“When we started our own business it became pretty clear to me that, if I was going to do it seriously, I’d better finish my diploma. I knew I had the skills for broking, but I hadn’t actually gone and got the bit of paper,” he says.
I started broking and it opened my eyes up to the world of business insurance and how important it is for clients.
“Getting the diploma was more of a confidence thing. I wanted to know that I was doing the right thing and that my clients could have confidence in me as a business owner because I had industry recognition behind me.
“The day you decide to run your own business, you want to make sure you’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s. Studying was a crucial part of that for me. It really was. That was the key motivator to me completing that diploma.
“I’ll be able to continue from here on because of it,” Thornton adds.
Attending NIBA College instilled in Thornton a sense of professionalism regarding how he serviced his clients. And although he had more experience than some of his peers, he says his outlook was similar.
“I was already doing a lot of what we studied, but the coursework actually put some clarity around what I was performing for my clients. I was doing it without really knowing why I was doing it,” Thornton explains.
“Even though I was at a different stage of my career compared to some other students, we were all very much on the same page.”
Thornton has been flat out attending to claims arising from the NSW storms earlier this year, but has plans on growing his business into the future.
“We’ve had a lot of claims from our clients for the Hunter Valley storms and I’ve been able to put the skills I’ve learned into practice during this process,” Thornton says.
“I think we have handled our claims a lot better than we would have if I didn’t do that course.”
Assured that the level of service he is providing to his community is professional and of the highest standard, he is looking forward to continuing to put what he has learnt into practice.
I was doing it without really knowing why I was doing it.
“As a person trying to run a professional business in the broking world, you need to have some confidence that you’re doing the right job, and that can only come by the industry body telling you that you are. That’s a real driving factor for me.”
Further to developing as a broker, Thornton says that completing his diploma helped him develop as a businessperson as well.
“A lot of the skills you learn are directed towards broking, but they’re relevant to your businesses and other industries,” Thornton says.
“I found these finer details to be crucial, helping round out other soft skills as well. Not just in becoming a better broker, but also a better business person.”