Tensions will be high on Monday morning when 10 of the country’s most talented brokers wait to hear if they will be picked to join NIBA’s prestigious Hall of Fame.
A special ceremony will be held at the NIBA Convention in Melbourne to announce the winner of the Zurich-sponsored Broker of the Year Award and the Vero-sponsored Warren Tickle Memorial Award, highlighting the best young broking talent.
NIBA President David Wyner will also use the occasion to announce this year’s Lex McKeown Trophy, for a lifetime of achievement in the broking world. Last year, the nod went to MGA’s John George.
The contenders for Broker of the Year are Andrew Robinson (WA), Sharon Cannon (Vic/Tas), Darren Milne (NSW/ACT), Evan Jackson (SA/NT) and Danny Gumm (Qld).
Last year’s winner Alan Wilson took a trip to the US as part of his prize.
In the young broker category, the finalists are David Clarke (WA), Greg Tolson (Vic/Tas), Karl Truijens (NSW/ACT), Simon Kennedy (SA/NT) and Natasha Burr (Qld).
The prize for last year’s winner, Amanda Marinis, was a trip to London and a once-in-a-lifetime experience at Lloyd’s.
Read all about the finalists below.
Broker of the Year finalists
Western Australia winner
Robinson Insurance Broking Services
He only launched his boutique brokerage at the beginning of the year but Andrew Robinson has quickly attracted plaudits and says being named WA Broker of the Year has been an excellent boost to his small team.
“From a branding perspective it’s excellent,” he says. “It’s a newly established firm, a newly established brand name. We only launched in January so to have this accolade so early in the piece is fantastic.”
Robinson has spent 25 years in the industry, working for some of the industry’s biggest firms, both locally and abroad, crystallising what he did and did not want in his own operation.
“When I was working for an international company there was an attitude that one shop fits all. All clients are different so what we aim to deliver is a different solution for every client,” he says.
Danny Gumm has earned his brokerage much recent attention and success thanks to his focus on exploring new markets, including hard-to-place risks such as tattoo parlours.
“It’s really about trying to find solutions for industries which have a problem,” he says. “Rather than just pushing a product, which is common out there in the market, we like to find an industry which has a challenge. We then sit down with those associations, go through a risk analysis of what those problems are.
“We present that to an insurer and come back with a solution. The client wins, Parmia wins and of course the insurer wins too.”
Gumm founded Parmia in 2007, having spent the previous 35 years with the likes of Reed Stenhouse, Sedgwick, Willis and Marsh.
Chief Executive Officer
Darren Milne has taken his family brokerage onto increasingly larger stages since taking the reins in 1999. Milne has overseen eight strategic acquisitions since then, helping take the firm to more than $28m in gross written premiums.
He says his biggest satisfaction comes from siding with clients when the odds seem stacked against them and helping them get tough claims paid.
“When you hear the negative opinions about not being able to do something, it gives you more motivation to get out there and prove them wrong,” he says.
“When you have a win there it’s a fantastic feeling. It’s like when you hit that perfect golf shot – that feeling keeps you coming back.”
Milne is also heavily involved in initiatives aimed at getting the long-term unemployed into full-time work.
Guardian Insurance Brokers
For Evan Jackson, there is no greater demonstration of a good broker’s worth than when push comes to shove at claim time.
“Many claims people will tell you that I’ve threatened to call the chairman of the board if they don’t see me or show up at their office and wait in reception until they come out and talk to me,” he says. “We’re in the industry of paying claims. That is our business and if you are not going to show up when there is a claim on why are you there?”
Jackson spent 15 years as a Divisional Manager at Zurich before starting his own brokerage in 1991, which eventually became Guardian Insurance Brokers.
Senior Account Executive
She is already well known as a role model for colleagues across OAMPS in Tasmania and now Sharon Cannon is gaining national attention. Cannon has developed a reputation working closely with clients to analyse their risks, review their polices and provide better coverage and value.
“I go above and beyond all the time for my clients,” she says. “It is all about building trust with clients and finding solutions for them. It’s working with underwriters and getting the results for the clients.”
Cannon began her career in Sydney before making the move to Tasmania and OAMPS and says helping develop the next generation of brokers is a high priority for her.
“It’s about teaching young staff the values that we have, being accountable and showing integrity in the things we do day-to-day.”
Warren Tickle Memorial Award finalists
Despite having spent just five short years in the insurance industry, Greg Tolson has wasted no time in developing a respected reputation both inside and outside Willis.
“I really enjoy finding solutions to problems for clients,” he says. “When you can get a claim paid above and beyond what a client expects or that may not have been paid – especially dealing with a lot of owners who have their own capital invested – when you can get a claim paid that they may not expect it is always a good feeling.”
“One of our clients had a loss and the insurers offered half of what the client expected and should have got. We negotiated pretty hard with the insurer to get back up to that level and they were extremely happy.”
Senior Account Manager
Karl Truijens balances his passion for broking with rugby union but that hasn’t stopped him excelling in both. A former professional player, he now plays semi-professionally and began with OAMPS three years ago after a stint in the Lloyd’s of London market and is now manages a hefty portfolio.
He says he aims to provide clients with more than just the right insurance policy.
“I have clients I have tailored specific ISRs around in north Queensland, where the risk of storm surge and flood is the key exposure. In that situation I’ve used risk management rather than risk transference,” he says.
“The focus was talking to the clients about how they can manage the risk of flood or storm surge rather than just transferring that risk to insurance for a very very high premium.”
For Natasha Burr, her nomination for the Warren Tickle Memorial Award carried a dose of extra sweetness. Danny Gumm, Parmia’s Director, picked up a nomination for the coveted Broker of the Year award in a double victory for the small firm.
“It’s fabulous that such a small brokerage in amongst all the large internationals can be recognised for all their achievements,” she says.
Having been in the industry since age 15, Burr has also worked in underwriting but it is the opportunity to help others through broking advice that motivates her most.
“I think to be a good broker you need to be compassionate and have passion for what it is you are doing. You need to treat the client’s business as your own. That’s the position I put myself in every time I speak with a client.”
Earlier this year, Burr was named the Les McInerney Insight Insurance Broker of the Year.
In 10 years with Aon, Simon Kennedy has had no shortage of variety.
Starting in Adelaide, he has also enjoyed stints in Darwin and Brisbane, each time learning to build working relationships with people in very different business cultures.
“I’ve had that great experience of being able to network and get to meet different people throughout Australia,” he says. “I’ve had some great opportunities working with some of our top flagship accounts with Aon. In Brisbane I worked as one of the primary team members on a top five account globally for Aon which was a great opportunity to learn and develop myself and meet people.”
Kennedy has also gained attention for his work in building relationships between the insurance industry and the wider community, getting involved with community associations and sporting groups.
Account Manager, Corporate and Speciality
OAMPS Gault Armstrong
After becoming OAMPS Gault Armstrong’s youngest ever account manager aged just 21, David Clarke has always been set on achieving his big ambitions. Specialising in the marine market, Clarke has already developed a wide-ranging book of clients, including at an international level.
He says he always aims to be a trusted adviser rather than a salesman.
“It was a big learning curve for me a client came and said ‘Can you help me? I’ve got to have a meeting with a major oil and gas company’,” he says.
“It was their senior leadership team, internal legal counsel, their finance senior manager and a few others on one side of the table and just me and my client on the other.
“Not only did we secure what we needed to secure (an amendment to the contract), the client won the contract and it was the biggest contract of his career. It was me as a professional providing advice more so than me flogging a product or me talking about an exposure that is not currently insured.
“It was so inspiring.”