At the Insurance Business Australia Awards on Friday night, one young broker swept up two big prizes. Taylor Burstow (pictured), from ShieldCover, won both the Australian Young Gun of the Year and the AXA XL Young Gun of the Year International awards.
When IB rang ShieldCover in Brisbane, Burstow’s colleagues were busy spreading the word.
“I’ve heard about it all morning!” commented one of the 31-year old’s co-workers.
Burstow is a softly spoken, modest young man.
“Yes, I was very surprised,” he said. “I had everything set up at home and had it on the TV screen and was sitting there with my partner and we were just watching. I thought, ‘you never know what can happen’ and I was surprised to see my name pop up, not once but twice,” he said.
At ShieldCover, which is a division of East West Insurance Brokers, Burstow holds down two separate roles.
“I’m the team leader of the ShieldCover underwriting team and I’m also the head of business development for East West’s broking side,” he explained.
As an insurance broker he’s responsible for business development including client facing roles like bringing in new business and meeting current clients.
“And my second hat is being the team leader of the underwriting team. So, broking the binders with London, managing the binders, running the team, making sure that we reach budgets, monitoring income, everything like that. And then running the team and making sure that they’re happy,” he said.
Burstow manages to do both roles at once and said he really enjoys the people side of his responsibilities.
“So sometimes I spend half the day doing underwriting things and then the second half of the day I do the insurance broking side of it, or vice versa, depending on what’s going on at the time,” he explained.
On the broking side, he’s often dealing with harder to place industries.
“Pretty much everything that fits underneath a blue-collar description is something that we’ll do,” he said. “We also do hospitality, so restaurants and hotels, and then vacant land liability, which is probably the biggest uptake because there’s limited options out there for that.”
In the blue-collar sector, Burstow said ShieldCover is looking to create a name for itself as a specialist.
“So, we’re looking to really drive that through that we’re not going to be the best placed business for everything in the world but we’re going to be strong in the blue-collar area and the hospitality sector as well,” he said.
At the age of 31, Burstow is in charge of four others in his underwriting team and about nine in the brokering division.
“I lead the underwriting team and then we have a leader of the broking team, but I work with him and we both oversee that as well,” he said.
Bossing around middle-aged men and women doesn’t seem to be a problem.
“No, it’s not really an issue for me to be honest. Everyone’s very respectful here I think, it’s just the environment that we’re in,” he said.
Burstow said staff come to him for help sometimes.
“But I don’t micromanage,” he said. “I let people do what they’re good at and if they have an issue then they can come and ask me for help if they need it.”
One important ingredient in Burstow’s success is that despite being only 31, he actually has an incredible 13 years of insurance industry experience.
“Everyone usually falls into insurance, but I grew up in insurance broking,” he said.
Burstow’s dad, brother and cousins are all insurance brokers. When he didn’t enjoy the coursework during his first year of university, entering the insurance industry was a natural choice.
In terms of learning new things, he finds that his job is actually quite like university anyway.
“In insurance broking itself you’re not pigeonholed into one particular area,” he said. “Everything needs insurance. So, no matter what you’re interested in, you can always target that industry and go after it.”
Burstow said there’s always something new to learn.
“I get to discover what we can do to help and what that industry actually does, and research it and understand them inside out which I find interesting because I like knowing a bit about everything,” he said. “It makes it easy to have conversations with people.”