This month will see NIBA welcome two new members to our Board of Directors – Steadfast’s Executive General Manager – Partner & Broker Services Nick Cook and AIM’s General Manager Glenn Schultz. They tell Insurance Adviser what their ambitions are for the association.
“For me, being on the board of NIBA is all about the insurance broker having a united voice at the table,” Steadfast’s Cook says.
In particular, with the “increased noise” coming out of Canberra around the insurance industry, he says it is more important than ever that there is a united front. “It’s critical for broking to have that single voice at the table, an organisation who knows Canberra and how it operates, who can speak to politicians and can present insurance brokers in the best possible light.”
AIMS’s Schultz concurs. “In this industry, there are a thousand different conversations that go on about any significant issue at any one time… A great achievement would be for NIBA to become that one voice, that significant voice that everybody relies on to bring the best possible result.
Being on the board of NIBA is all about the insurance broker having a united voice at the table.
“And for that voice to be the best representative of the industry.”
The timing could not be better for Cook and Schultz to join the Board, with NIBA looking to reinvent itself after closing down NIBA College and now focusing on its advocacy role.
“Part of what we must do is to build a really strong NIBA that brokers are absolutely confident in, that will represent their interests and get the best result in whatever the issue is,” says Schultz.
“Being on the Board allows us to have a greater ability to convince our members that they should ‘leave this to NIBA’… Because if brokers are more confident that NIBA can provide the best possible representation, then it works better. The better NIBA represents brokers, the better brokers can do their job for clients and address the problems clients have.”
Cook adds: “Steadfast doesn’t do all the things that NIBA does and that it excels at. Steadfast can speak for Steadfast Network Brokers. With 307 brokers across Australia, my aim is to ensure all Steadfast brokers feel that they have a voice at the table.”
Schultz too says his goal is to strongly represent the views of AIMS brokers: “Because we represent Austbrokers and IBNA and all their individual brokers, we can bring to NIBA the needs of their clients and that is the reason that it makes sense for us to be on the Board and have input with NIBA.”
And on the other side of the coin, Cook says he sees his role as promoting NIBA to Steadfast members as well. “This will ensure that Steadfast brokers see that NIBA is acting on their behalf and I want to encourage more Steadfast brokers to become NIBA members.”
Bringing experience to the table
Schultz and Cook have vast experience in the industry. Schultz has been managing director of JLT Re, director – facultative at Aon Re Australia and national manager – market placement, product design and development at Aon Risk Services Group. He believes his experience in industry will provide the Board with a perspective on what clients want from brokers as well as what insurers are able to support.
A great achievement would be for NIBA to become that one voice, that significant voice that everybody relies on to bring the best possible result.
Cook was head of customer and product proposition and national intermediary distribution manager at Zurich Financial Services previously, and also has experience as an underwriter. He says that experience means he can bring a “total industry view” to the NIBA Board.
“I want Steadfast to have input into NIBA and play a more active part,” Cook notes. “I want to add value to the expertise that already sits around the Board table and support both the Board and the NIBA team to fulfil their mandate to achieve the objectives of NIBA.”
The road ahead
The challenges ahead are many – for the industry and profession – but Cook sees them as opportunities.
First, there’s the increasing interest from government in reforming the industry and NIBA needs to be at the forefront in that, he emphasises.
Then there’s also generational change – in brokers and consumers. “How do we engage the next generation of brokers? The generations coming through should want to see NIBA as a necessary and relevant body to be a part of,” Cook notes. And the only way to see that happen is to engage with them – not only members but those yet to be a part of NIBA.
“We need to articulate that being part of NIBA means that you are part of a unified voice for the industry. And if you want to be part of that united voice, the best way to do that is through membership of NIBA.
“As for the changing buying patterns of consumers, I see opportunities for brokers. I see the next generation of business owners as perhaps putting better value on their time, that is, knowing that they are good at running their businesses, but recognising that they need the advice and support of a broker to ensure their business remains healthy and prosperous.”
Schultz points out that another challenge is having clients and the community value the work that brokers do. “A lack of positive recognition is a big part of that… The thing we do badly is getting recognition for all the good things we do. As an industry, we are poor at promoting what is done very well 99 per cent of the time. People don’t see that so they don’t value it. We continue to be judged on the negative 1 per cent.”
Again, it’s about generational change, which Schultz hopes will help promote a more positive view of the profession. “If we can get the younger generations to be proud of what they do and to be able to promote to clients the value of what they do, that’ll start a more positive conversation.”
Finally, tying all this together is ensuring that the profession remains relevant. “It is a huge issue. That, and maintaining – even expanding – our value proposition for clients”, Schultz says is something that needs to be tackled.
“The challenge for us, on the Board of NIBA, is to make sure that NIBA represents the best possible way of that interface between client, broker and the insurer and brings the best value to the client.”