Up-and-coming elite broker Ben Spokes reveals the secrets to his success
Insurance Business: Why did you become an insurance broker?
I started work in the agricultural industry as an agronomist, qualifying with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours. I was working for Wesfarmers when they expanded all services into one office, including insurance, and while introducing the GI adviser to all my farming clients, I started to form an interest in what he did.
Through a football connection I was then approached to make a move into the insurance industry, and I was at a stage in life that I was ready for a new challenge so made the change. I haven’t looked back for the past eight years.
Tell us about your business. Do you concentrate on any particular insurance lines or industries?
General insurance has only been a service offering for three years at Crowe Horwath (previously WHK). Based in Colac, where I and my family are from, I mostly service the Western Victorian region. More recently I started servicing other Crowe Horwath firms around Australia.
We have a diverse range of service lines, from our core accounting and business services to lending broking, risk insurance and financial advice. Focusing on the SME sector, we work with all industry sectors. I provide the full spectrum of general insurance services to all our clients but probably focus more on commercial and agribusiness due to our client base.
IB: What is unique about your business?
Our ability to provide a one-stopshop service from the one location. We pride ourselves on identifying client opportunities and benefits from other service lines. Our philosophy is all about getting the best result for the client.
We want to make sure we continue to be known as the most expert advisers and best service providers in the market.
IB: How has the industry changed since you took up insurance broking?
Since FSRA was introduced, compliance has become the focus of our business, as it should be to provide assurance and quality control for our clients. The advent of flood cover and increasing premiums resulting from natural disasters have shaped the market-place and seen premium hikes. It’s also been interesting to watch the ebb and flow of insurers in and out of certain industry sectors.
IB: How do you see it evolving over the next decade or so?
I believe we are going to see insurers become very selective, with only three or four major players in the domestic market. It will become very competitive.
What’s the most important thing a broker can do to develop their business?
Undoubtedly, form relationships with key external referrers and become a trusted adviser. Your clients need to have confidence that you will go the extra mile,
IB: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing insurance brokers at the moment?
The domestic insurance market – home and contents.
IB: What has been the highlight of your career?
Being acknowledged as an Elite Insurance Broker by Insurance Business (thank you!) and starting a new, very successful general insurance practice from scratch. It’s been very rewarding so far and continues to grow and develop, so plenty of challenges which I enjoy.
IB: What keeps you motivated?
No hesitation – my clients. Working with them and developing relationships, and meeting new people every day. I try and ‘superplease’ a client each day. Whether it’s writing new business and saving the client money or having a claim paid, any outcome that makes my client happy makes me happy.