In this Q&A, Hills tells Insurance Business what he sees as the biggest opportunity for brokers in 2018 and what he thinks is most rewarding for brokers.
IB: Who or what has inspired you to become a broker?
Steven Hills: Ironically, I stumbled into the industry through the State Services Commission and got a job leaving school at State Insurance as “Inwards Remittance Clerk No. 3.” The rest, as they say, is history, but in those days it took all day to receipt and bank 500 inward policy cheques. I guess I had to start somewhere!
IB: How would you sum up brokers in three words?
SH: Competitive, flexible and a little crazy.
IB: What do you see as the biggest opportunity for brokers in 2018?
SH: Delivering clients more than simply an insurance-driven value proposition. Also, utilising the efficiencies of advancing digital technology but skilfully retaining the personal touch and relationship. Remembering that any mug can sell insurance policies; we can, and do offer far more than that.
Young people in our industry need to know that their better understanding of a changing world and the ease at which they can navigate the pace of technology is their greatest asset and opportunity in our industry. They need to be encouraged out of their comfort zones, and then they can make a difference. I am always encouraged watching our younger generation grow and excel to reach their full potential.
IB: Why do you like being a financial adviser (assuming you like it)?
SH: It’s satisfying to reach a position where you become a trusted adviser to a client’s business interests and you know that your risk and insurance advice is trusted, valued and largely acted upon.
IB: What was your most memorable client experience?
SH: There are many, but post-earthquake – whilst there is much I have not always enjoyed – being able to navigate global markets and innovative placement techniques have added some fun and flavour.
Co-presenting to markets with clients is challenging, but very rewarding when it all comes together to renewal date and the client sees positive outcomes from the process.
IB: Do you think New Zealanders are underinsured?
SH: I am sure there is still underinsurance, but Canterbury business owners have certainly, in my experience, largely heeded the advice of their brokers to be more fully insured – albeit the pain of the market ups and downs doesn’t actually help their sanity.
IB: What do you think of the FMA’s robo-advice announcement?
SH: Technology advancements are not going away, and our industry needs to foster means by which our customers can receive the best possible advice through their preferred media channels.
IB: Does the industry need more regulation?
SH: Immediate answer is no, but insofar as ensuring quality standards, integrity and compliance are retained as minimums to success, then the answer is yes.
IB: Outside the broking business, what else do you enjoy doing?
SH: Football playing days are fast disappearing, kids have grown up and left home.
I enjoy a day in the garden, travelling with my wife, quiet Sunday afternoons and hopefully, being able to sleep past 7 am on a Saturday and Sunday morning.
IB: If you were Prime Minister for one day, what would you do?
SH: Hope the day ended very quickly and I could go back to my day job.
IB: If you could have dinner with any three people (dead or alive, excluding family or friends), who would you invite and why?
SH: Steven Gerrard – he was my favourite Liverpool player.
Martin Luther King – he did some incredible things in simply believing and knowing people were equal, and yet he lost his life for the cause. We need people like him in the world.
Margaret Thatcher – she pioneered women as leaders and dented a few egos along the way.
IB: Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t in insurance broking, I would be…
SH: Selling Jaguar motor vehicles at Archibalds in Christchurch.
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