For those working in niche markets, a deep understanding of the industry you work in is paramount for building successful relationships with clients, according to one prominent broker.
Andrew Brooker, founding partner of marine specialist Latitude Brokers, told Insurance Business
that becoming fully immersed in each client's business is critical in developing a strong broker-client relationship.
“On the marine side of things, 9 times out of 10 clients aren’t really that interested in the minutiae of the insurance world; they are interested in their own industry,” Brooker said.
“When you are sitting down talking to ship owners, or traders or people in the marine space, we are talking about the shipping industry – we are spending 90% of our time talking about the shipping industry and 10% of our time talking about insurance.
“You can’t do that if you are not fully immersed in marine, or their industry.”
A 25-year industry veteran, Booker’s career has included stints with major international brokerages and law firms but the marine market has always remained a constant.
“For me, it is the shipping angle that is really interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I like insurance but it is the shipping industry, the marine industry side of it that I find to be fascinating,” Brooker continued.
“The people that you are involved with, the trade, the economics of it all, and particularly how relevant it is in this day and age to all of our lives.
“There were moments when I thought, maybe I should try and do something else, and then I would dip my toe in the water of something outside of marine and then I thought, actually that is just not really very interesting."
Brooker made his move to Asia in 2001 with a new opportunity in Singapore. In 2004, he made the move to Hong Kong and set up Latitude Brokers two years ago with founding partners Tom Fulford-Smith, Charles D’Alton and Vanessa Toucas, and it was this partnership which proved to be all important.
“Don’t do it on your own. Have more than one person managing it,” Brooker said when asked about any advice he'd pass onto others looking to branch out.
“There is no way that we could have got to where we are at Latitude. We are only two years old, but without the strength in numbers, having the four of us has been absolutely critical.
“My advice would be find partners that you get on extremely well with and do it like that, rather than trying to be the sole CEO responsible for absolutely everything.”
With a recent branch opening in Singapore representing “a huge lead forward” for Latitude, Brooker said that the insurance industry has more than lived up to his expectations.
“I’ve found it to be really exciting,” Brooker said of his career.
Despite the fact that he's been in the industry for 25 years, Brooker said "it still feels remarkably new to me".
“As clients evolve and my industry evolves, there is still so much to do, to learn and to grow into. It has exceeded my expectations. The opportunities it has given to me have been much greater than I could have ever expected.”
From intern to industry leader
Insurance industry bow a ‘baptism of fire’