Talking about the year as it ends, Robert Kelly believes NIBA’s advocacy to regulators on brokers’ behalf has been “outstanding” in 2016.
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“I’ve been extremely impressed by the role that NIBA has taken on behalf of brokers in regard to any regulatory change, and the cooperation that they’ve had with the regulator for the propositions that they’ve put, in order to … inform and to give [the regulator] the ability to make a judgment based on facts, rather than innuendo around the industry,” he tells Insurance Business.
Kelly also raises the NIBA and ANZIIF education partnership.
“We’ve got the best of both worlds … and the two groups work to enhance the training mechanisms that are available for brokers. That’s been a real highlight to me.”
Another highlight, he says, has been major insurers “now starting to recognise that running a combined ratio in excess of 100% is not the way to run an insurance company”.
“I think that rationalisation is overdue. I think it should’ve come a year ago, but I’m grateful that it’s come now,” he says. “We, as distribution, always want to have sustainable insurers behind us and we want to see price movements that are small, rather than a kneejerk reaction at large when balance sheets get eroded by years of poor underwriting.”
Kelly says a highlight for Steadfast in 2017 will be the continuing rollout of its IT platforms, INSIGHT and UnderwriterCentral – the culmination of a decade’s work. He also looks forward to continuing Steadfast’s strategic relationships, both in Australia and in London.
Discussing challenges, Kelly says: “The challenges for the industry are always to inform the regulators about issues that occur … and to work with the regulators to ensure that there is no kneejerk reaction, but absolute engagement and rectification programs put in place to fix any issues that are seen to impact the public.
“Although [ASIC is] technically the policemen of what we do, they’re also rational about how you fix it. I must say that, in my view, they are very cooperative in terms of how it can be rectified and accommodating to have discussions about the rectification process. I think that’s a huge thing to have – a ‘regulated by legislation’ industry that you participate in, and a regulator who will work with you when issues arise.”
Kelly says it will be interesting to keep an eye on Suncorp, IAG and QBE over the next year as they work towards how they can interact with and enhance distribution, in terms of their technical operating structures.
“I think that some of the work that’s being done by Peter Harmer will be interesting to see when it reaches fruition,” he says.
Kelly also mentions Pat Reagan’s recent appointment as interim CEO of QBE’s Australian and New Zealand operations.
“He has the skills and the ability to move change quickly”, he says.
“And I think the way Suncorp has split its divisions and Michael Cameron’s view of how Suncorp should be involved with the market is yet to be proved, but it’s quite revolutionary.
“So, from my point of view, to watch those three people and how they manage the changes within their businesses and how they decide distribution should be treated is a work in progress and something I watch with great interest.”