ANZIIF: The origin story

ANZIIF: The origin story | Insurance Business Australia

ANZIIF: The origin story

The Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) can claim to be one of the oldest continuously running insurance institutes in the world. The professional association and education provider for the insurance industry in the Asia-Pacific region was founded in 1884.

For insurance, Lloyd’s of London can trace its history back to 1688 and Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House in Tower Street, London.

Going back a few steps further, the first recorded mention of an insurance policy can be traced all the way back to the Code of Hammurabi. The legal code was etched in stone by the Babylonian king of the same name in about 1750 B.C. The code offered a very basic form of insurance by guaranteeing that debtors didn’t have to pay back loans if they suffered a personal catastrophe like disability or death.

“It’s like a Marvel movie, the origin story,” said Prue Willsford (pictured), CEO of ANZIIF.

Willsford read out a quote that explained the objective of her founders.

“They established ANZIIF with the objective of, ‘The promotion of good feeling and friendly intercourse among its members. The dissemination of professional knowledge and the inculcation of sound insurance practice by the reading of papers and by other means,” she said.

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Willsford said she loves the quote because it demonstrates the inclusiveness of her Institute and its aim of building community and technical capability at the same time.

Times have changed dramatically since those days of cigar smoking gentlemen in their leather chaired lounge rooms. ANZIIF is headquartered in Melbourne and now has offices across Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and China with membership pushing towards 20,000 across 50 countries.

Willsford explains that ANZIIF began as separate, local institutes across Victoria and NSW and then grew to include other states. It was a federated model with its head office in Australia.

“It wasn’t until we merged with the Insurance Institute of New Zealand in 2000, so 20 years ago, that we actually became a single body across the whole of Australia and New Zealand,” said Willsford.

She said ANZIIF has a long social history as part of the fabric of the insurance industry in Australia and New Zealand and over the last couple of decades across Asia as well.

ANZIIF’s Melbourne headquarters is a modern office but this year they’re transitioning to a new, shared space.

“Reflecting the ongoing changes in society and in business,” said Willsford.

She said ANZIIF is “incredibly lucky” to have such a rich history of shared connections with the insurance industry.

“But our industry has changed and so has ANZIIF and what’s been great is our ability to continue to cherry pick the best of the past, but also to be forward thinking, and to both lead and support the industry through that change,” she said.

Willsford said the past has given them a history of forming strong relationships.

“Yes, I think the greatest thing that ANZIIF has is our brand and the fact that we are trusted and respected. That is invaluable and our relationship with industry is based on that trust,” she said.

Prue Willsford became CEO of ANZIIF in 2013, with 25 years of financial services experience with organisations including Macquarie Bank, NAB, Colonial Mutual and State Trustees. She is also the former Deputy Chancellor of Victoria University.

“I’ve always been interested in areas where public policy and commercial interests intersect,” she told Kevin Eddy in her first IB interview. “An industry association is exactly in that space. Insurance underpins our economy in so many ways: it’s got a policy aspect, an industry aspect and a community aspect. The role of the Institute in those three is really important,” she said.

The Institute runs important awards events including the Allianz Donna Walker Awards and the Australian Insurance Industry Awards.

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Last year, as part of the Year of the Insurance Professional, ANZIIF celebrated women in insurance in the month of September.

ANZIIF offers access to an online educational centre with approximately 2,500 distinct learning materials – a resource that has proven to be particularly useful during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In May last year, Zurich Australia’s CEO of general insurance Tim Plant became ANZIIF’s new president and Ben Bessell, chief broking officer at Austbrokers, was appointed deputy president role.