Australian Consolidated Insurance Services (ACIS) in Melbourne has a new addition to its office – the so-called “Fire Helmet” award from authorised representative (AR) network Resilium Insurance Broking – and here ACIS managing director Zik Cai (pictured above) shares what it means to be the network’s practice of the year.
“Peter was not expecting it at all,” said Cai, referring to ACIS chief financial officer Peter Ding. “He was thinking we’ve got a 5% chance of winning this. For me, I was hopeful. I thought, ‘Oh, maybe we’ve done some really good work this year and we would be recognised for those things’, and we always uphold the network’s values.
“I don’t think we did anything too differently this year – we just continued to do what we do every year and we just kept pushing forward with the same mantra, which is to always think about the client’s circumstances and from their perspective. Every bit of advice that we give is considered and tailored to what the client’s needs are. We just keep moving with that, and it’s what I keep teaching my staff as well.”
According to the AR network, it assessed 160 Resilium practices before selecting ACIS.
“It’s always tough picking an overall winner because all of our Resilium ARs are doing so well in their businesses despite the difficult market conditions,” said Resilium managing director Ben Hastie (pictured below). “Zik, Peter, and their team stood out this year for a number of factors, including their consistent adherence to compliance and training, attendance at Resilium key events, outstanding business development and growth, among others.”
Cai, meanwhile, pointed to the difficulties of the past two years, saying that remote working has been a major challenge from a social perspective.
He told Insurance Business: “It’s been really difficult to build relationships with some new clients, and even old ones, because we couldn’t go to see them. We did the best that we could through virtual [means]. And same with my team as well – you do the best that you can, but you can’t replace seeing the person. I think it was quite a challenge.
“There’s all these difficulties, and we’re all trying to do our best. There might have been a step-down in service, so to speak, [with insurers], but it’s the same thing for us – we’re doing our best. I think response times are not quite as good as before, so we have to manage not only our expectations but our clients’ expectations.”
The managing director, who was a financial advisor prior to his switch to general insurance broking, added that it’s a concerning time for a lot of clients with business interruption claims.
“We want to make sure that clients are not left in the dark,” stated Cai, referring to the business interruption test case, “and that they’re kept up to date with where it’s going. For me, the priority is just to make sure that we’re on top of these claims and we understand how this is evolving. We want to be on top of these things.”
Moving forward, the Victoria-based boss is “just excited” to be out of lockdown.
“I’ve started going out there, engaging with clients again,” shared Cai, who, alongside his business partner, has a staff of four people. “I’m really looking forward to hosting events – client lunches, those sorts of things – and engaging with our clients again, and what better news to deliver than to tell them that they’re being looked after by the practice of the year.
“It’s quite an honour. I started my business 10 years ago, and these awards always go to the bigger practices. I never thought that we would be even considered. So, to be nominated and then recognised is just an amazing result. It’s phenomenal.”
Cai and Ding co-founded Milestone Advisers, which in 2018 snapped up ACIS and kept the latter’s branding. The duo has been Resilium ARs since 2013.