For Evan Jackson (pictured), owner and managing director of Guardian Insurance Brokers, 2021 marks a significant milestone: 50 years since he joined the insurance industry.
“Insurance is an industry in which I’ve made lifelong friends and have, overall, loved being a part of,” he told Insurance Business.
Jackson founded Guardian in 1991 after working as an underwriter with Zurich and, over the years, has developed the brokerage into a trusted provider of not just insurance products, but also informed and honest advice.
“We started out at the dining room table in my home, and we’ve since grown to be a team of 22 staff,” he said. “Even from those early days, being honest with our clients has always been at the forefront of what we do at Guardian – we give them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.”
This mantra has been well and truly put to the test in recent times, with the COVID-19 pandemic helping to create what Jackson terms the “hardest market [he’s] ever seen.”
“As brokers, we need to be transparent with clients about what the market’s like and what they should expect to pay for insurance,” he noted.
“Some people in the industry are really price-driven and can sometimes make certain sacrifices in terms of providing coverage for their clients which, in my opinion, isn’t good broking. Brokers have an obligation to do the best on behalf of our clients, to give them the peace of mind that their assets will be protected in tough times.”
Read more: Eight traits of a hard insurance market
Though industries like hospitality look set to struggle for at least as long as the pandemic lasts, Jackson sees avenues of growth for Guardian in dealing with sectors such as construction.
“The government has really put a lot of emphasis on things like incentives for first home buyers and this has a knock-on effect down the line where, because the building industry is thriving, it means that tradies are busy, suppliers are busy, and so on,” he said.
“Though the insurance industry’s been clobbered a bit by COVID-19, it’s always going to be the case that if you buy an asset like a car or a house, you’re going to need insurance. As a broker, you need to be proactive in giving advice and finding the best products for your clients.”
Half a century after joining the industry, Jackson’s eye remains firmly on making sure the future of insurance is a bright one. For him, this means such practices as mentoring the young professionals in his office and talking to the next generation of staff.
“In my view, we have a moral obligation to leave a strong legacy,” he said. “The best way to do this is through educating younger people and teaching them well.”