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Driving new business
Challenging times can bring out the best in talented people, and this is certainly true in the insurance industry. The New Zealand insurance industry has faced losses worth billions of dollars in recent years due to various reasons – from catastrophes caused by extreme weather to disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The economy has also been struggling with rising inflation and supply chain problems. Nevertheless, several standout professionals have risen above the chaos of the marketplace to drive new business and distinguish themselves, and the time is ripe to celebrate their achievements.
Business development managers (BDMs), mostly dedicated to pitching new business and maintaining client relations, are at the forefront of the effort to generate new opportunities. So, for this year’s survey, Insurance Business New Zealand asked brokers to recommend high-performing BDMs based on excellence in customer service, responsiveness, communication, and product knowledge. Then, the IBNZ team settled on 20 winners who represent the frontrunners in their profession.
“Not one approach fits all brokers, and so as a BDM, it’s knowing how to still add value and ensuring brokers know you are available and always keen to assist”
Becky Stokes, Ando Insurance Group
Reviews and forecasts
Wendy Newman is an underwriter/BDM at DUAL Insurance and a 5-Star BDM award winner. For her, the COVID-19 pandemic set the tone over the past few years, with BDMs struggling to meet with brokers face to face – a problem that lingers today. This situation resulted in a sea change in prospective interaction methods.
“With many in the market moving towards broker portals and trading platforms as a cost-effective way of attracting new business and retaining existing business, this has led to a reduction in business that came through BDMs,” says Newman. “Going forward, we will see both insurers and brokers invest more heavily in these platforms, which will change the dynamic of the BDM role towards engagement at a higher level.”
Another winning BDM, Becky Stokes at Ando Insurance Group, has also seen how the perils of the pandemic have helped improve the quality of digital offerings. “Brokers can quote and bind more via integrated systems,” she says. “Not one approach fits all brokers, and so as a BDM, it’s knowing how to still add value and ensuring brokers know you are available and always keen to assist.”
However, Vicki Jeffs, a commercial underwriter for Ando Insurance Group and fellow 5-Star BDM award winner, downplays the impact of the pandemic on prompting the implementation of new technologies, saying that now is a good time to get back to traditional interactions. “It’s a great opportunity for us to be face to face again and working on our already strong relationship, and we’re hungry looking for ways to grow our business whilst also helping our partners,” says Jeffs.
“My willingness to pick up the telephone and talk to a broker gives me the opportunity to gain more information and understand the client’s risks and needs”
Wendy Newman, DUAL New Zealand
How BDMs excel in services
For the survey, brokers were asked to rate BDMs on customer service, responsiveness, communication, and product knowledge – criteria which IBNZ asked the winners to reflect on.
Regarding customer service, Newman says it’s critical for her. “I have a rigid follow-up system which ensures that all quotes are chased up with phone calls to ensure I can work with our partners to get the right cover in place for the customers,” she says.
Meanwhile, Jeffs says that being honest, responsive, and having clear communication definitely helps her deliver excellent customer service. “I pride myself on responding with quick turnaround times to my brokers. Being responsive to our company’s needs but also to our brokers is very important,” she says.
Echoing Jeffs, Newman notes that regardless of where she is and what she’s doing, she tries to return all emails and calls within 24 hours. In terms of communication, Newman says she tries to use the phone as much as possible in order to save time and not get stuck sending emails back and forth. “Quick response times, being clear and honest to our brokers – communication is key. My style is professional, yet relaxed and friendly,” she says.
Lastly, Jeffs attributes her extensive product knowledge to her many years of underwriting experience and understanding of what commercial insurance is. Meanwhile, Newman refers to the dearth of experience and knowledge among young brokers. “Having strong product knowledge helps me to assist the broker, and thankfully DUAL takes a lead in the market with helping develop knowledge in the industry,” she says.
Adding value to the brand and intermediary channel
In the survey, another question posed was, what value do BDMs add to their brands and to the insurance intermediary channel?
“I have mentioned turnaround times as being key, but also as a BDM, connecting a broker with the expert or service where needed [is critically important],” says Stokes. “We have a very experienced team here at Ando, and it’s knowing when and how to connect with, say, our marine or PIDO team and what additional services such as webinars or product training can be of use. Additionally, assisting wherever possible with claims messaging, site visits for surveys, client visits – if it adds value – and digital training for new broker members. I have been part of each of these things in the last two months alone. Essentially, as BDMs, we are the local eyes and ears to identify these broker needs and ensure they are met.”
Newman uses her experience and knowledge to perform her role and represent DUAL in the best way possible. “There is nothing more rewarding than finding an insurance solution for a broker that makes the client happy,” she says. “I feel my willingness to pick up the telephone and talk to a broker gives me the opportunity to gain more information and understand the client’s risks and needs.”
Jeffs says: “In my role as underwriter, I am committed to helping my team be the easiest underwriters to deal with… I am always available to discuss issues with the brokers.”
“The best thing we can do is be available for our brokers. We need to know our company goals, but also work with/for the brokers and their clients in providing fair and reasonable terms for their business”
Vicki Jeffs, Ando Insurance Group
How to win more business
In the 5-Star survey, IBNZ also asked how BDMs can win more business in the next 12 months.
“[BDMs can win business in] lots of ways, but at the core, it’s being flexible and agile and quick to respond; otherwise, the business goes elsewhere,” says Stokes. “Each of these, which aren’t new concepts, builds the trust needed for people to come to you again and again. Having different ways brokers can engage via digital, phone, email, and ultimately in person and making it as simple as possible.”
Meanwhile, Newman says that the quick answer is to quote low rates and see who can get to the bottom first – yet noting that this type of cycle is not great for the industry or customer. Otherwise, she believes that it is important to stick to one’s strengths, recognise the risks one is looking for and underwriting to ensure sustainable pricing for the client.
For Jeffs, the focus is on assisting brokers: “I think the best thing we can do is be available for our brokers. We need to know our company goals, but also work with/for the brokers and their clients in providing fair and reasonable terms for their business.”
- Adam Bullard
DUAL New Zealand
- Alex Patelesio
- Becky Stokes
Ando Insurance Group
- Bruce Satchell
- Cherie Clark
- Dan Lawrence
Ando Insurance Group
- Donna Chapman
- Eileen Richardson
- Joshua Broadbent
- Karl Samson
- Kieran McCormack
- Lisa Jackson
Ando Insurance Group
- Michelle Kidson
- Paul Trevelyan
- Phil Caton
- Raima Teena Roy
- Shanann McCarrison
- Vicki Jeffs
Ando Insurance Group
- Wendy Newman
DUAL New Zealand