Tell us about your career trajectory. How did you end up in the insurance business and managing partner at KASE?
I had my first insurance gig as a teenager working at an insurance call centre. A friend I met in university helped get me an interview for a part-time sales and service role there. Although I had no intentions of staying in insurance, I really enjoyed the advisor aspect of the job. Luckily, I met a great friend (and future business partner) there, Stanislav Kojokin. After about a year of working together he left the company to become a broker. I quickly fell in love with his client stories and hearing about the different business owners he got to interact with on a daily basis. Once I finished school, I went straight into the broker world, eventually ending up at the same brokerage as Stanislav. After spending a few years building a book of business, working on other designations like CAIB, CPIB and CRM, the two of us decided to open a brokerage specializing in commercial insurance. Two years sure does fly!
What is the most fulfilling aspect of your work?
I'm a problem solver by nature and being a commercial insurance broker requires a lot of that. There aren't enough brokers out there that specialize in commercial insurance
so bringing new insurance solutions that clients have never heard of is definitely my favourite part of the job. Having your clients give you some of their company swag like hats and pens is a close second.
When you look back at your career, what would you say are your proudest accomplishments?
There are many great moments I'll always remember like signing up my first client or agreeing on a name for the brokerage. The proudest accomplishment so far has been being nominated for Best Brokerage Under 10 Employees at the Insurance Business Awards last year. This nomination came after only being in business for a year and a half, but reminded us that there is always room for dedicated, enthusiastic and goal driven individuals and brokerages no matter how much of a new kid on the block they may be.
We're from a generation where everyone can Google insurance information on their phones and make informed decisions before buying. We know that specialization trumps generalization when it comes to commercial insurance, which is why we've chosen that as our focus. KASE Insurance is not a one-stop shop for all of your insurance needs, but rather a place a business owner can get the advice he or she needs to make decisions on risk management.
While many brokerages encourage their brokers to further their insurance education, KASE Insurance makes it a requirement. We see it as a duty to our clients to know more than what they can Google on their own. We also see it as a necessity to give our clients access to the latest tools that can help their business like accessing certificates online and having access to free third-party HR resources to help their businesses.
As a place to work, KASE Insurance offers a pretty extensive Producer Trainee program – very similar to what Stanislav and I went through to get to where we are.
In speaking with a lot recent grads and other millennials, this industry doesn't have the appeal that it should. Most insurance professionals will tell you they "fell" into this industry (myself included) and very few have their eyes set on it from the beginning. It doesn’t help that we have every movie and TV show making insurance people look shady. Who else remembers the annoying insurance salesman from the Bill Murray film Groundhog Day?
What are some effective solutions you've seen in getting young people to enter and stay in insurance?
I know some of the universities and colleges are holding insurance fairs for students now. Our industry organizations are also holding talks and seminars at universities and colleges to help explain what this industry is all about. More of this needs to happen because it being one of the major financial sectors, this industry is full of opportunities in very different roles. There's also lots of room for growth and career development depending on what you want to do exactly.
If you weren't working in the insurance space, what would you be doing right now?
Although I’m not one for presentation, I like to think I’d make a great chef! I make really good tacos.
Broker prepares to venture into the Alaskan wilderness for a good cause
Building a brokerage from scratch