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Brokers are the matchmakers of the insurance game, working on behalf of their clients to find the best policies in a crowded insurer marketplace. To determine who deserves to be in Insurance Business Australia’s Elite Brokers 2022 list, we requested verifiable data on everything from number of policies written to total revenue to number of new clients. The 25 Elite Brokers named in this report are recognised for their resilience in overcoming the unprecedented challenges and hard market conditions of the past year.
“The last 12 months have continued to be some of the toughest I’ve seen, with large pushes for revisions to cover, reduced capacity, and considerable premium increases”
Andrew Bramble, Sanderson Insurance
“The last 12 months have continued to be some of the toughest I’ve seen, with large pushes for revisions to cover, reduced capacity, and considerable premium increases,” says Andrew Bramble, senior broker at Sanderson Insurance and an Elite Broker in 2022. In addition, he says the continued effects of climate-related exposures and poor returns on alternate investments by insurers have left them tightening things up. There have also been some cover-related issues arising from the impact of COVID-19, and the appetite for harder-to-place risks has been reduced, making it a tougher prospect to get clients the right cover at the right price.
Another winner, Abbie Wilson, who goes by the title “Your Trusted Broker” at National Insurance Brokers, agrees, saying the past year has been very demanding in some cases, yet rewarding. “It has made me grow and develop even more as a person as I’ve been faced with the same challenges as my clients – the unknown,” she says. Delays in response times and the increasing complexity of claims, she says, underscore the need for better communication channels. What’s more, the pandemic-related restrictions have had a negative impact on everyone’s mental health. She hopes the current easing of these restrictions will enable increasing requests for face-to-face contact with clients to be granted.
Fellow Elite Broker Retha Van Der Merwe, executive director at Omnisure, also agrees. “We are trading probably in the hardest market I have traded in during my 37 years as a broker,” she says. “However, insurers need to adjust their pricing because at the rate we were going previously, it was just not working for them sustaining their capital basis and their profitability.” Like Bramble, she says brokers need to stay well-informed of climate-related weather risks. Other concerns of hers include attritional and CAT claims, as well as finding new homes for legacy accounts.
Then, of course, there’s the pandemic. “COVID had a huge effect on how our clients conduct their businesses and it still has a huge effect, but I think we are slowly but surely moving towards working alongside it and adjusting as we go along,” she says. “However, I don’t think that we will ever work 100% as we did pre-COVID. The cost of employing people in the insurance industry, being either insurers or brokers, is increasing exponentially as it is in other professional services industries which always makes it difficult to maintain margins.”
“Consolidation is still happening in the insurer and broker markets – meaning the big are getting bigger and the small are being pushed out of the market,” Van Der Merwe adds. “There’s less competition and markets to approach from an insurer perspective. We do, however, see this as a massive opportunity for the nimble brokerage and have experienced a lot of success recently providing good old-fashioned personal service. I strongly believe if we can’t bring those best-in-market terms, we’re not doing our job. The reality is, insurance is no longer the cheapest form of risk management – the hard market has changed that, and we are having more and more pretty challenging conversations with our clients.”
“Always be true to yourself and your clients. If you act with integrity and remain honest to your clients, you can only ever succeed”
Abbie Wilson, National Insurance Brokers
Besides documenting their excellence with quantified data, the Elite Brokers have other intangible qualities that help them remain close to their clients and stand out among their peers.
To maintain his clients’ loyalty, Bramble says: “I have a consistent service and passion to ensure clients’ needs are listened to and met. I have the clients’ best interests at heart, and I take the time to get to know the clients and their businesses.”
He distinguishes himself from his colleagues by genuinely caring for the wellbeing of his clients, maintaining extensive knowledge on a wide range of policies and industries, and not offering products that don’t suit their business needs.
“Great communication, including the occasional banter, goes a long way to build trust and loyalty with my clients,” adds Wilson. “I believe I may have been chosen for this award because I have proven beyond doubt that I am the trusted advisor that my clients require.”
She stands out as an advocate that her clients can trust and rely on. “We’re still experiencing premium increases, which have led me to decrease my own income just so my clients can still afford the most adequate insurance coverage. There is no requirement for me to reduce my income, I purely do this as a way to support my clients,” she says.
Realising that job titles don’t define a person and only her demonstrated actions can ever prove her worth, Wilson chooses not to use the professional title of ‘director’ and simply introduces herself as ‘Your Trusted Broker’.
For Van Der Merwe, maintaining the loyalty of her clients is possible through honesty, integrity and knowledge. “It’s often not a conversation a client wants to hear but something they have to hear,” she says. “At the end of the day, if an insurance contract doesn’t fulfill the purpose it was purchased for, then there is no point in purchasing it in the first place.
“It’s always tricky to pump your own tires, however, I take an extremely personal approach to insurance with my clients. This is a long-term relationship for us, and I treat it as such. We have seen many times companies started in people’s garages that have now become very large, listed companies – with us every step of the way.”
“Get out there and have a crack – you never know where you will end up”
Retha Van Der Merwe, Omnisure
While the Elite Broker awards exist to acknowledge and reward outstanding brokers in Australia, we hope that they also motivate other brokers to achieve their best work. What do this year’s winners recommend?
“Take the opportunity to learn with everything you do,” says Bramble. “Work through claims and listen to clients.”
Wilson adds: “Always be true to yourself and your clients. If you act with integrity and remain honest to your clients, you can only ever succeed. Not everyone will be a fan of the insurance industry, so we must always find new ways to rise above any negativity and continue to promote our services including what insurance brokers and insurance can do for their clients. It most definitely takes courage, patience, and persistence to be an Elite Broker, and everyone has the ability to become the next Elite Broker.”
Van Der Merwe’s words of encouragement are straightforward: “Get out there and have a crack – you never know where you will end up.”
To develop the annual list of Elite Brokers, Insurance Business uses an objective means of ranking the best-performing insurance brokers in Australia – not just those with the biggest portfolios or the largest number of clients. Each broker was required to send their own information along with details of a contact who could verify those figures. The criteria included number of policies written, total revenue, revenue per policy, new clients, total new client revenue, and revenue per new client. Each broker was ranked in each of these measurements, and the sum of their rankings was calculated to determine their final placement on the list.