“We’re a business that really cares when so many don’t these days,” said Scott Wilford (pictured above).
The straight-talking executive director of Oracle Group Insurance Brokers was referring to the positive attitude of his work colleagues and business partners at the firm’s recent annual conference.
“Everyone there [at the conference] has a purpose, everyone’s aligned and I think that’s really cool to see in action,” he said.
Oracle Group, one of the biggest independently owned insurance networks in Australia, recently received sad news. Managing director Matthew Denehy has melanoma cancer and is undergoing immunotherapy treatment every three weeks for at least two years.
However, Wilford said Denehy has no intention of stepping down. Instead, the MD is sharing his workload while he undergoes treatment - which Wilford said is not as intrusive as chemotherapy. So Denehy is continuing to lead the company.
“His spirits are high,” said Oracle Group’s executive director. “He is still working every day and positively affecting the business with his enthusiasm and energy.”
Meanwhile, with Denehy’s guidance, Wilford says the company’s nationwide network of ARs [authorised representatives] is busy facing future challenges and opportunities.
“We’ve grown very quickly and now iwe’re getting proper functions and an operational framework in place and sharing the load in different areas of the business so we can be a little bit more targeted with our approach,” he said.
Wilford said one focus area is improving how the company uses data.
“We’ve invested heavily in technology for the business,” he said. “Through automation, including having one source for information, we’re hoping to be one of the leaders in technology in the industry.”
The aim, like others in the industry, he said, is to drive efficiencies and create a better customer experience.
Wilford said the firm is also removing transactional relationships and replacing them with “meaningful, customer driven relationships that create value.”
Compliance is another focus area.
“We’re very compliance driven so we’re very selective when we look at ARs to make sure they’re experienced, have the right attitude, the right compliance mindset and also meet our values,” he said.
That attitude and mindset, he suggested, creates the positive company culture that was on show at Oracle Group’s recent annual conference.
“I’ve never seen a vibe like it,” said Wilford. “I know it’s my business but everyone just got along really well and was there for the right reason.”
One feature of this event, said Wilford, is no separation between Oracle Group ARs and business partners.
“All our business partners are part of our whole conference from the start of it right to the finish - they attend all the sessions and get involved,” he said. “It’s a very inclusive and good environment for everyone.”
Wilford said different opinions and vigorous discussions are welcome.
“Absolutely, we’re pretty aligned as a business but at the end of the day everyone has a voice,” he said. “We are an organization that wants to progress and the only way you progress is to learn and listen.”
However, the current insurance market, said Wilford, is a challenging place.
“Everything’s difficult,” he said. “It’s probably the hardest market, from a service perspective, I’ve ever seen in the industry.”
Particularly, he said, the lack of responsiveness from some big insurers.
“Insurance partners have got a really good opportunity, I think, in the current climate, where if they do want to do something different and really work with brokers they can find a good home for themselves to really grow and separate themselves from the pack,” said Wilford.
Other challenges include finding staff.
“People left claims after COVID and then also the natural disasters, so I would say experience claims people are the hardest to find,” he said.
Then there are customers, he said, facing the rising costs of insurance. He’s concerned about the impact of any bushfires this summer.
“I’m scared that under insurance is going to be bigger than it’s ever been before,” said Wilford. “If we see losses over the next 12 to 24 months you’ll probably see a lot of people or businesses impacted because of under insurance.”
The Oracle Group leader suggested that this is also an opportunity for insurance brokers.
“We need to pull our finger out and start promoting what we do,” he said. “It is a good industry and I think we talk it down too much.”
He said the purpose of insurance is powerful and positive.
“We make sure communities, cities and countries survive for catastrophes! That’s what we do, that’s our purpose,” said Wilford.
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