IB Talk

Dynamic Insurance Services leader explains broker model


Cynthia Yap is managing director of Perth based Dynamic Insurance Services. Her firm was one of the top brokerages in IB’s annual Top Brokerages ranking. Yap revealed to IB Talk her priorities as a leader and why her insurance business is successful.

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Danny Wood  00:00:13 

Hello and welcome to IB Talk. I'm Danny Wood, News Editor of Insurance Business Australia, where we're taking a look at one of our Top Brokerages. In this annual survey of Australia headquartered brokerages, we take things into account like gross written premium revenue, and client growth among the leaders, Dynamic Insurance Services, Cynthia Yap is Managing Director and she's with us now. Cynthia, you've said that one of the aims of your brokerage is to add much needed diversity and equality to the insurance brokerage industry. Why is that important to you?

Cynthia Yap  00:00:48 

Well, Danny, with being an Asian female migrant, I've gone through obstacles to be able to rise above a male dominated industry. And I want to help other people in the same situation, I want to help remove those obstacles for them.

Danny Wood  00:01:10 

Let's focus on your brokerage for a moment. In a nutshell, you guys contract out to ARs, what would you say makes your model different to other ones?

Cynthia Yap  00:01:21 

It's a tailor made model. So it's a partnership with each different AR based on what they need, what their business goals and objectives are. Each AR is unique. And I tried to build a model that suits them.

Danny Wood  00:01:41 

And as the leader, you're Managing Director, what do you see as your top leadership goals?

Cynthia Yap  00:01:48 

My aim is to create more leaders. And through them being unapologetically authentic. And I want to give them autonomy so that they can shine and their brand can shine. And through that, they'll be able to tap into creativity, connectivity, and innovation.

Danny Wood  00:02:14 

That kind of surges in a way into mentoring, which you've also said is important to you. When you're mentoring men and women, what's different about how you approach things when you're mentoring a woman?

Cynthia Yap  00:02:27 

My style of leadership and mentorship is transformational. And it's not gender based. I look at a person's personality, their strength, their potential, and their needs, so that I could inspire them and intrinsically motivate them to do the best they can and to reach their goals basically. And in terms of women, I'd like to see more women in the insurance industry. And I'd like to encourage them to be more confident to be able to ask for what they want and to negotiate their needs, you know. So I think that's important.

Danny Wood  00:03:10 

Cynthia, you were telling me, you had a pretty tough time when you were in earlier jobs with your managers not doing the right thing. Can you give an example of that, firstly, and how has that changed the way you approach leadership and treating people who are in your company? 

Cynthia Yap  00:03:25 

Danny, it's not about doing the right thing. It was just the management style, I find there's nothing more frustrating than being managed by someone with a limited capacity to understand your vision. So I hope to bring innovation and to be a good listener and really listen to what the authorised representatives and brokers and the staff are asking of me. So when I started off as an authorized representative, I was paying a 30% commission to my licensee, this was 12 years ago, and the model was relatively new. And I wasn't allowed to put, do simple things like put a photo on my email signature, because it looked too much like a real estate agent. Or I couldn't call my team, the dynamic team because it made the other teams look undynamic. And those kinds of restrictions, you know, and I think I remember at the height of conflict with one of the directors at one of the past brokerages I worked at, I could see big problems ahead. And I could see there was low morale. The culture was uninspiring conflicts amongst the directors. And I was very enthusiastic to help in any way I could to lift the spirits of the workplace and The director, I suppose I may have come across, you know, my, my enthusiasm may have been misunderstood for aggression. And he said to me, Cynthia, you have no credibility, I have more money than you do, you are insignificant. So instead of guiding me into a leadership role, and seeing my potential and strengths and working with me, he just shut me down. So that's not a bad thing. In hindsight, it helps me become resilient. And I figured out what worked for me. And I attracted people and managers that were aligned to my goal and my brand.

Danny Wood  00:05:47 

You've come a long way since then, since that manager shut you down. Basically.

Cynthia Yap  00:05:53 

I had I have Yeah. 

Danny Wood  00:05:54 

Is there an example of something you do now that I suppose is, in a way based on that experience, and not wanting to replicate that with the people you work with?

Cynthia Yap  00:06:04 

Yes. So when I'm doing the due diligence process with new authorised representative, I look at every perspective, you know, their experience, their strengths, what they have to offer, their business model, their company objectives? And I try not to say no. So instead of saying, No, you're not the right fit for me, I try to dig a little bit deeper, and find out how I can motivate them intrinsically or align them to our values. And I tried to find a solution, think outside the box to find a solution to work with their strengths, instead of shutting them down saying no, you're not the right fit for us one another licensee. So unless they've got some major flaws in their work history, like bankruptcy or something that we can't work around, I like to be open to every AR and what their needs are to be able to make it work for the both of us.

Danny Wood  00:07:11 

Apart from the mentoring side, what are some of the other ways you support your brokerages?

Cynthia Yap  00:07:16 

Okay, so with our authorised representative, I've been fortunate enough to be in different roles. And I've been in the industry over two decades. And I started as a teenager, in a receptionist role, and worked my way up. So I've seen the marketing side of things I've been client facing. I know what it's like to do processing to understand the insurance products. And I know what struggles AR is go through the authorized representatives, in terms of what phase their businesses in. So they may be a startup, they may be looking after clients, they may have big corporate clients. And I faced a lot of these challenges myself throughout my career. So I can understand these challenges and find solutions to their problems. So that's how I hope to support them. 

Danny Wood  00:08:15 

You also encourage your brokers, your area ARs to specialize, what are some of the industry niches where you're seeing opportunities at the moment?

Cynthia Yap  00:08:23 

In terms of specializing, I think, with our brokers, I encourage them to work with industries that they're familiar with, and find products that can protect businesses in those industries and occupations. I think, as a broker, it's our job to also educate our clients of the problems of the world and what risks they face. And when you educate them, they will find solutions to problems like increasing cybercrime and the scans that I think cyber liability is important. And that's not a new product, but it's becoming more and more important for businesses, any type of businesses because of the way we're going.

Danny Wood  00:09:08 

You mentioned cyber, and that's one of the industry challenges. What do you see as some of the big industry challenges right now for the insurance industry?

Cynthia Yap  00:09:16 

That would be inflation, climate change and digital transformation. So you know, changes in technology, and it's moving at a rapid pace as well. So I think they are challenges for insurers and brokers because we're in the forefront of using these products to protect our clients assets and understanding these issues or help us you know, navigate ways to find solutions. And it's hard because we're in a hard insurance market. And that just means higher premiums and restrictive covers. So they're the challenges that we're facing.

Danny Wood  00:09:57 

That's a hard message to bring to Customers isn't that when you're saying your premiums going up? And capacity is difficult? What advice would you give to a broker who has to basically front up to customers and explain these issues? I guess? 

Cynthia Yap  00:10:11 

I think it helps to have a good relationship, a trusting relationship with your client. And you need to be transparent and honest. And it helps to have good communication skills. And you just show them the quotes that you've received, answer their questions, walk them through their concerns, help them do comparisons and explain risk exposures. And they know, you know, with the cost of living going up, and all the claims being made regarding climate change, floods, freight storms, things like that they understand, but you just have to be transparent and explain to them the reasons why, instead of low, your premiums gone up 60% This year, I find taking the time to explain to them helps a lot. 

Danny Wood  00:11:02 

Let's bring up conversation back to mentoring and leadership, which I know is a focus for you. What would you say to a young person who's considering a corporate career in the insurance industry?

Cynthia Yap  00:11:15 

I can only tell you what I did to get to where I am now. And that by being patient and having delayed gratification. So for me, it didn't happen overnight. It took me 25 years to get to where I am now. And I as I said, I started off as a receptionist, and you've got to make sacrifices and be willing to work hard. I remember, in my journey, I remember my colleagues or my friends would be partying on weekends, they'd go out drinking, I'd be finishing off assignments to get the qualifications I needed, you know, in this industry, and it will be a public holiday, I'll be in the office doing my assignments. And I remember when I was in labor at the hospital, I'd have a laptop, I had to go into emergency cesarean and I'd be on my laptop

Danny Wood  00:12:06 

You brought your laptop during labor? 

Cynthia Yap  00:12:08 

Yeah, just and the nurses were really mad at me, but um, I'm just saying, Oh, let me finish off this email, you know, I really need to get this to the client and just things like that working 16 hour days. And it doesn't have to be like that. And I wouldn't say it's healthy. But it was necessary at that time. And if you really learn how to prioritize what is needed at that time, whether it be family or health or your work, you get through it. You know.

Danny Wood  00:12:40 

Cynthia Yap, it's been really nice talking to you. Thanks for your time on IB Talk.

Cynthia Yap  00:12:44 

Thanks for having me, Danny. 

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