Connect managing director, Tony Walker, has defended the former Winley Group Authorised Representatives (ARs) affected by the company’s demise in Perth, Australia, saying they are victims too.
Walker said his company had taken on eight of them following the fallout of Winley’s major investors allegedly absconding while underwriters were left unpaid for several months.
Connect Pty Limited (Australia) and PSC
Connect Limited (NZ) do not attribute any blame to the Authorised Representatives who worked with Winley as they are also victims in this story,” Walker told Insurance Business
Connect has taken eight Authorised Representatives under its wing who meet its strict acceptance criteria in regards to experience, qualifications, character and reputation.”
Walker said PSC
Connect networks operated under strict governance and provided a very supportive and constantly upgraded infrastructure, charging appropriately for the high level of service offered.
“Shortcuts are not taken and the PSC
Connect network need have no concerns around the integrity of the business they choose to align themselves with.”
Walker said Winley’s poor infrastructure and unsustainable margins had constituted a ‘recipe for disaster’.
“Winley retained less than 10% of the remuneration paid to the Authorised Representatives in their network. In addition they offered them a sign-on bonus, free PI insurance, free IT costs, but this cut into their income leaving them far too short financially to properly manage and support a diverse national network.
“Also there appeared to be no accountability to a parent company, as is the case with the more reputable authorised representative networks in Australia.
“This was a recipe for disaster and enabled the directors to take shortcuts and [allegedly] misappropriate monies, resulting in devastating consequences for all connected to this group.”
recently issued a statement that it would not be automatically endorsing broker requests to appoint authorised representatives and would be ‘exercising caution when committing to transact with former Winley ARs.’
But Walker said he hoped that the views of clients and insurers would not be prejudiced against AR or member broker networks as a result of the collapse.
“After all, the [alleged] embezzlement and misappropriation of client monies did not involve any of the Winley authorised representatives.”
However, he added: “This should serve as a reminder to all clients to ensure that the proper checks and balances are in place and they should feel free to ask these types of questions when choosing who will be their trusted adviser.”