2015 Warren Tickle Memorial Award

2015 Warren Tickle Memorial Award

Insurance & Risk Professional: How long have you been in the industry, and how did you find your way into it?

Alex Conlon: As of July 2015, I’m now in my seventh year in insurance. Before entering into the industry, I’d previously worked in warehousing roles within the industrial supplies sector. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the hands-on hard work the job required, the ability to grow within the roles available and get off of minimum wage, were limited.

I set out in search of a good office job with an outlook towards career growth and happened upon a fantastic opportunity to work with AAMI Business Insurance as an inbound customer service and sales team member. This provided a baseline understanding of commercial insurance underwriting before transitioning internally into a commercial underwriter role with Vero Insurance.

Due to structural changes, I accepted an opportunity to enter into insurance broking, with a newfound focus on financial lines products with Marsh, but now have found myself managing a portfolio at BJS Insurance Brokers, who are a national practice.

IRP: What is it about being a broker that provides you with the most motivation?

AC: One of my biggest motivations is working with and solving problems for our clients.

When a customer needs help placing cover, we take the time to understand their risk and make them aware of the important exposures needing to be considered. We then have a responsibility to achieve an appropriate level of protection while responding to pressures to secure an economical price (where possible).

Nothing in life is ever easy, and at times the simplest of risks can change in a heartbeat to present the most complex problems. We must not get carried away without assessing the full details, because a simple solution or clarification may offer a quick resolution.

Working with clients and insurers to develop a mutual result is a rewarding feeling. However, even when a problem cannot be solved, it is good to take away from a learning experience to be retained in the ‘knowledge bank’. Leaving aside this award nomination, what has been the single most satisfying moment of your career so far?

The ability to step into the role of Senior Account Manager with BJS has been my career highlight to date. It is not often that you’re afforded an opportunity to progress to a higher level of management at a time where you had only been with the company for near on a year.

It was a positive sign that my past experience and efforts were being recognised and that BJS had a strong level of trust in my ability to go from servicing the portfolio to managing it. There is no better feeling to boost your confidence.

In life we can overlook how much knowledge and skill you have accumulated until we are put to the test to step up to the plate. You begin to notice situations you once doubted as being capable to deal with yourself have in fact become natural.

With this personal awareness you are then tasked with a whole new level of responsibility and skills to develop, which make you realise as a young professional just how much more you truly have left to learn.

IRP: What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received?

AC: You do meet some people that have been given that life-changing piece of advice which was inevitably as a result of a very precise set of circumstances occurring.

Although I’ve had plenty of fantastic mentors and leaders over time, who offered critical insight and reasoning, there has not been a resonating speech that I’ve held to heart over this time. Recently I had one experience which taught me a good reminder.

No matter how confident you become in your role, with product knowledge or expertise, as a young professional there is bound to be a perspective on a situation that you haven’t taken into consideration.

Despite any clarity that led you to believe your decisions were absolutely the best course of action, there are times it won’t achieve the desired result.

These moments are when veterans in the industry have the ability to provide critical understanding of situations. In order to learn what they have to say, we must start by listening.

IRP: What would you say is the single most important quality a broker should possess?

AC: To me, the single most important quality is integrity. Without this trait how are our clients expected to differentiate us from being a plain old salesperson?

This isn’t to disregard the reality that being an insurance broker requires sales skills. Most companies, regardless of the service they provide, do need to sell in order to survive.

What we don’t need to be seen as is the stereotype the word brings to mind.

We expect to be seen as professionals who provide quality advice and service to customers looking for our guidance. Maybe it is the use of the word ‘broker’ in our industry, which presents clients with the misconception that we are buying and selling a commodity for them. This is not our role. We do arrange or negotiate insurance, but we are in fact acting as advisors giving professional quality advice in a range of particular fields.

IRP: Where are you aiming to be in 10 years time?

AC: To be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure, but I can’t foresee any desire to leave the insurance industry, or the world of broking.

BJS is fantastic place to work and I’m looking forward to growing with the company within the challenging roles that they will no doubt present to me in the years to come.

I’m looking forward to becoming a mentor to others in the industry, especially those new comers which have yet to realise insurance is in their future.

It would also be a privilege to work alongside some charity groups and not-for-profit organisations to help raise awareness for their causes, while presented the opportunity to give advice and support from an insurance perspective when it is no doubt needed.

2015 Warren Tickle Memorial Award

2015 Warren Tickle Memorial Award

Insurance & Risk Professional: How long have you been in the industry, and how did you find your way into it?

Amanda Blackburn: To be honest, it was a remark made by my father that first got me thinking about a career in the insurance industry. My dad made the comment: “What you cannot afford to replace you insure”.

I considered how from the individual wanting to protect their personal assets, through to the largest multinational organisations, the concept is the same ­– what you cannot afford to replace, you insure.

This concept has resonated with me every day of my career and it was from this statement that I began to think about the concepts of transferring risk and limiting loss.

I have been a part of the insurance industry now for eight years, and the time has truly flown. I entered the industry on JLT’s graduate program and after 12 months rotating through various divisions of the business I was hooked on the dynamic nature of the industry, and advancing in my career at JLT.

I am very grateful for JLT’s support in helping me recognise and reach my career and personal goals.

IRP: What is it about being a broker that provides you with the most motivation?

AB: I believe what motivates me the most is knowing that my clients see me as a trusted advisor and an important part of their business, in that I guide and advise them on suitable ways to transfer their operating risks and exposure, help them identify new risks and exposures as their businesses grow and diversify, and that I am there to support them every step of the way in the event of a claim as an advocate for their rights and interests to compensation under their insurance program.

The insurance industry and business environment in which we operate is constantly changing and evolving. New and emerging risks keep the need for further education relevant, merging markets continue to change the face of our operating environment, and the platforms in which we communicate and transact with both our clients and insurer partners is changing to adapt to the developments in technology.

Above all else though, the insurance industry is, and will always remain, a relationship business and maintaining these working partnerships with clients are the greatest motivation.

IRP: Leaving aside this award nomination, what has been the single most satisfying moment of your career so far?

AB: It was such an elating experience to have been able to stand up and accept the 2015 Young Professional Broker of the Year NSW/ACT State Award in front of respected industry professionals and peers.

Aside from this award nomination the single most satisfying moment of my career came about in 2013 when I was selected to participate in JLT’s Asia Pacific Exchange Programme. I believe this exchange opportunity has cemented my affiliation with the industry.

I spent two months working from JLT’s Singapore office, where I gained valuable first-hand broking experience in the Asian insurance market, enjoyed networking in the local insurance environment and spent time identifying opportunities for greater synergy between JLT Australia and JLT Singapore.

This professional development opportunity has been a career highlight, a development milestone and truly one of the greatest experiences both professionally and personally I’ve experienced in my career to date.

IRP: What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received?

AB: Steve Ball was a personal mentor of mine and many other young and developing brokers both at JLT and in the broader insurance industry. It was easy to identify that Steve was very passionate about developing young talent and an enthusiastic advocate for broker education.

I saw how everyone respected his advice, aspired to develop the same strength of relationships he held in the market, and regularly relied on his guidance so when we were working on a submission back in 2013 and Steve took particular note of my previous ‘clinical’ approach to written communication I listened intently to his advice that followed.

Steve told me “never be afraid to inject more of your personality into your writing”, and I have followed this advice every day of my career since. Steve instilled in me the value of industry and client relationships, trustworthiness and always putting the client first in all areas of our service delivery.

Steve encouraged us to always seek feedback from our clients in respect to our service to ensure we continue to meet their expectations and to ensure the clients remain comfortable that we fully understand their business and the associated risks they face.

IRP: What would you say is the single most important quality a broker should possess?

AB: I believe the single most important quality a broker should possess is to be viewed by our clients as a trusted advisor. Our personal mandate should always be ‘client first’ with the clients’ interests always put before our own.  The advice and recommendations we make to our clients should have the long-term client relationship in mind, not just the short-term gain.

Showing that we are genuinely interested in our clients business and really working to understand the client’s underlying concerns are key. It is our role as a broker to educate clients on the importance of risk transfer, and the availability and suitability of Insurance solutions to meet their needs and requirements.

Trustworthiness is born from reliability, credibility and an emotional connection deeper than just surface politeness. A genuine passionate and principled approach will always lead to a deeper level of trust with not just clients, but underwriter partners and fellow colleagues.

IRP: Where are you aiming to be in 10 years’ time?

AB: Ten years’ time seems like such a long way away, but when I consider that I have already been in the industry for eight years and that time has flown by, it is not too hard to imagine what I would like to be doing in 10 years.

I would like to have further developed and strengthened my leadership role, complete my frontline management qualification and also any other further leadership courses which would expand my skill set and allow me to better perform my role.

I would like to be able to focus significant time on developing a ‘talent alignment’ process within JLT. I would like to work on a model to expand our stream of junior industry employees, invest heavily in their training, education and professional development, then encourage both formal and informal mentoring with senior in-house JLT staff. Then using the existing performance review programme, agree with the young broker as to where their strengths and interests lay and model out a career path through the organisation for them aligning their talents with areas of the business who can benefit from their skills.

I believe that if we invest in young talent, encourage their education and agree their career progression we will be much more likely to retain talent, improve employee satisfaction and inevitably strengthen company culture which will reflect positively on company results.

2015 Warren Tickle Memorial Award

2015 Warren Tickle Memorial Award

Insurance & Risk Professional: How long have you been in the industry, and how did you find your way into it?

Bronte Neville: I have been in the industry for nearly five years. I am a second-generation broker and think it was inevitable that I would work in the industry. Having seen what an amazing and rewarding career you can have by being a broker, the idea of following in my father’s footsteps was extremely appealing.

Insurance ticks so many boxes as far as job satisfaction goes that it is really hard to surpass and the opportunities are endless. Within three months of working as a broker, I knew it would be my career and I have loved every moment of it since.

IRP: What is it about being a broker that provides you with the most motivation?

BN: I think one of the most motivating things about being a broker is the satisfaction of being able to help people and to protect the things that are important to them. Knowing your client is properly covered and the policies you have put in place will respond in the event of a loss plus being able to clearly and concisely explain the levels of cover is very rewarding. To top it off, clients are always so grateful to be dealing with a broker who genuinely cares about their business and assets.

I also find the general insurance community to be extremely supportive and friendly and the opportunities to network with like-minded and people passionate about what they do is wonderful.

IRP: Leaving aside this award nomination, what has been the single most satisfying moment of your career so far?

BN: The development and growth of Queenscorp has also been an incredibly satisfying journey. In a short time we have really established ourselves as a boutique brokerage that offers exceptional service and I am extremely proud to be a part of it.

Also, being awarded two Student of Excellence awards whilst studying through NIBA College was incredibly satisfying. I put a lot of effort into my studies and to see it pay off was really exciting.

IRP: What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received?

BN: The piece of advice that I probably act on the most was something I was told when I was about 14. It was to listen to what everybody has to say, consider and then make your decision. The more people you listen to, the more you can draw on when challenges arise. We work in an industry full of highly experienced people and we should try to learn as much from them as possible.

IRP: What would you say is the single most important quality a broker should possess?

BN: The ability to always put your clients’ interests foremost in every business decision you make. This means we need to show integrity, humility and passion for what we do and conduct ourselves accordingly at all times.

IRP: Where are you aiming to be in 10 years’ time?

BN: In 10 years’ time, I hope to be looking after a corporate portfolio, developing new business and be a director of Queenscorp as well as heavily involved with the mentoring and education of young brokers.

I love being involved in the acquisition of new business and can see myself expanding more into this role whilst continuing to assist in the growth of Queenscorp. Queenscorp to me is a dream come true and to be a part of it from the beginning has been an incredible journey and I am extremely excited to see how we develop over the next 10 years.

I am extremely passionate about the development of young brokers and hope to have an integral role in their education in the future. I believe more and more there is a drive for us to be considered a profession, not an industry and that transition is something I think we should all be focused on and involved in. We face a lot challenges in the next ten years but also a lot of opportunities which we should embrace.Luke Pratt

2015 Warren Tickle Memorial Award

2015 Warren Tickle Memorial Award

Insurance & Risk Professional: How long have you been in the industry, and how did you find your way into it?

Luke Pratt: When I finished school, my aim was to become a sport teacher. When I was accepted into my course at university, I immediately thought: “Why am I going straight back to study?”

After talking to my dad who owned his own brokerage, and taking his advice to get a job for 12 months to earn a little bit of money, I was lucky enough to get a trainee role at EBM Insurance brokers. After spending a week in the job, I knew I didn’t want to do anything else!

After 11 months at EBM, I was lucky enough to live out my childhood dream and play football for a living for the next two years. Upon finishing my professional football career, I knew I wanted to get straight back into the insurance industry and immediately started looking for roles. I was offered a role at Willis in early 2010 and jumped at the opportunity and five and a half years later, here I am!
What is it about being a broker that provides you with the most motivation?

I really enjoy problem solving. There is nothing better than a client coming to you with an issue they are extremely stressed about and losing sleep over and working through it with them to solve the problem.

I am also motivated by the uncertainty in our business. Each day, you don’t know what issues you may face – a claim, a new complex client or a challenging meeting you are dragged into last minute? There are so many opportunities to learn every day in this industry and as a lot of people know, the world doesn’t go around without insurance.
Leaving aside this award nomination, what has been the single most satisfying moment of your career so far?

This is difficult, because obviously the award is very satisfying to be recognised for all the hard work you do. However, the most satisfying moment would have to be the day myself and a colleague in my office finalised the placement on our largest account. The client being a large international company with various risk exposures and the day we were able to tick the last box and sit there completely satisfied that all the hard work had paid off.

IRP: What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received?

LP: The best advice I have received would be from my dad. He taught me a few things when I first came into the industry and they were:

  1. Never burn a bridge in insurance. With the industry being what it is, you never know when you will need a favour from someone or in turn actually be working for someone.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you think it’s a dumb question.
  3. Be honest.

IRP: What would you say is the single most important quality a broker should possess?

LP: There are many important qualities a broker should possess however I think that one of the key qualities is being able to adapt to change. This encompasses a lot as it can be change in the market, in your colleagues, in clients or in the personalities you have to deal from one meeting to the next. Our industry and our day-to-day roles are forever changing and this has a huge impact on how we are able to do our jobs and do them well.

IRP: Where are you aiming to be in 10 years’ time?

LP: I have many goals and it would be difficult to narrow one down; however I know that I intend to still be in the industry without doubt, however the position I am intending to be in is forever evolving. On one hand, I would like to hold a senior position at an international brokerage and on the other I would like to have ownership in my own brokerage. However as I said this is forever evolving and I am excited to see what the future brings!