John Phillips, Chief Underwriting ＆ Portfolio Manager – Commercial at Suncorp Commercial Insurance, talks about the role of technology in the industry, visiting President Obama and taking Kurt Cobain for dinner..
My father had a very long career in insurance, so I was somewhat familiar with the industry. I was partly following his footsteps, but I also saw an opportunity to have a very different career to many of my peers and friends.
How would you sum up insurance brokers in three words?
Entrepreneurial, trusted advisers
How would you change the industry?
It’s important that we come up with new ways to teach base skills and knowledge to young underwriting and claims professionals during their early years at work. Many of the tasks that they used to cut their teeth on are now automated, so it’s harder to acquire practical expertise and experience. We have to think of new ways to expose them to these important experiences and skills.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t just accept something as a given because it’s the way it has always been done. Challenge the status quo.
What’s the most important thing a broker can do to develop their business?
The most successful brokers understand ‘who’ their customers are, not just ‘what’ they are. They understand their personalities and buying habits, which helps provide the service and advice they need.
If you were Prime Minister for one day, what would you do?
I would organise a state visit to the US so I could meet President Obama.
What’s the biggest challenge facing the industry today?
The role that technology is playing in underwriting and claims and how it affects the skills and expertise of young professionals. As I said in my earlier answer, it is important that young entrants to the industry don’t miss out on these key skills.
What has been the highlight of your career?
The most rewarding experiences have been when people I’ve worked with and led have progressed their careers and achieved what they’re capable of.
If you could invite three people to dinner, dead or alive, and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
JFK, Kurt Cobain and Nelson Mandela. All three are fascinating people who’ve had a profound impact on the world. There is so much in the JFK story: his presidency, the family history and his lifestyle. Kurt Cobain changed the music scene forever. Nelson Mandela doesn’t really need explanation, his impact is there for all to see.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t in insurance, I would be…
... a reporter on Getaway
. I’m very passionate about travelling.