“I’ve grown up in a family of insurance,” is how Josh Ryan (pictured) puts it when talking about his first glimpses of the industry he’s now been a part of since 2009. Here the managing director of Hunter Broking Group shares his beginnings and what he’d like to someday be instrumental in changing within the sector.
Ryan – whose father has been with Vero for four decades and whose mother has been a broker also for 40 years – didn’t need any convincing to enter the world of insurance. In fact, the MD said establishing Queensland-based Hunter Broking Group was something he had always wanted to do.
“Vicariously through [my parents] you hear what they do and you sort of get to know the industry a little bit,” noted Ryan, who at 14 did a bit of filing for his mum who was with Aon at the time. “They were very much believers in allowing me to do what I wanted to do.
“It just so happened that after I finished school, one of the first full-time jobs that I came across was a call centre working for an insurance company that dealt direct selling car and bike insurance. This was when I was young, so the reason I actually applied for it was because it was paying really well. For someone who just finished school, that was what enticed me then.”
Ryan was referring to then Calliden-backed provider eGroup, which paved the way for his entry both into the workforce and into insurance instead of taking the university route. It was his promotion after just a few months that made Ryan feel that insurance was something he’s good at.
He recalled: “I was at my parents’ house for dinner one night, and they said a traineeship has come up at UAA (Underwriting Agencies of Australia). I moved over to do the traineeship, and that’s where I finished my Cert III. Once I finished, that qualified me to get into broking, which I found more interesting and a bit more suited to my style.”
Ryan went on to spend a number of years working at broking firms before finally going it alone by setting up a PSC Connect authorised representative. The circumstances surrounding his decision were far from ideal, though, and to say that he took a leap of faith is perhaps putting it lightly.
“The day I decided to start my own business, it was probably the worst timing,” Ryan told Insurance Business. “But it was one of those days where you chat to the ones that are closest to you, your family, and they just say, ‘Look, there’s no good time; just do it; you’ll regret it if you don’t’.
“So, day one, when I first started, my wife and I had a one-and-a-half-year-old; she was six months pregnant on maternity leave; and I was going to ‘no income’.”
But the Hunter Broking Group boss knew it was what he wanted to do.
He stated: “I’ve got a bit of a different personality, and I had a very clear understanding of how I wanted to do things and how I wanted to look after clients. What I found going through the brokerages, is often your voice isn’t heard because you’re not a decision-maker in the business. So, I wanted to make my own decisions and I wanted to look after clients my way.”
To help him get through the initial period, Ryan’s dad ‘paid’ him his first fortnightly salary. From there, things “just flowed on” and snowballed, highlighted Ryan.
In February 2019, or 10 months after starting the business and when he could finally “afford her,” Ryan employed his mother as a senior account manager so they could work together. Now she serves as a consultant to Hunter Broking Group.
Meanwhile the managing director, who said it’s been “a very busy three years,” has one thing he’d like to correct – a feat that he conceded wouldn’t be easy.
“There’s so many different avenues within the industry and so many different things that you can do,” asserted Ryan. “It’s not spoken about in primary or secondary education, and that’s what disappoints me – the fact that it’s such an important industry.
“We go through our schooling to understand how to develop a career and develop interests and build our assets and become successful, but there’s no focus on how to protect all of that. It’s missed, and it’s a big part of what I eventually want to help change. But it’s one of those things where you’ve got to go through a lot of hoops just to try and initiate that.”