Dozens of brokers working in life and risk are effectively turning away business and growth potential by closing themselves off to Fire & General, says one broker who’s done just the opposite.
Dean Young, founder and director of business and personal risk advisory firm BRAVEday, has just set up an offshoot company called BRAVEday General, a move that’s been 18 months in the planning.
Young told Insurance Business
he was responding to constant requests from existing clients who wanted BRAVEday to look after everything.
Says Young: “They’d say ‘We really trust the company as a brand, your service is fantastic, why can’t you just look after everything for us?’ That’s where it really started.”
The problem was how
to get started. So Young spent months researching and asking questions of insurers and fellow brokers – both those who had taken the leap from life to F&G with success, and those who’d had less success.
“That’s something that we are good at is asking a lot of questions,” says Young. “One conversation I recall specifically from someone who has been successful in both the F&G business and risk, they said you need to get scale. Scale gives you the opportunity to get underwriting decisions and helps at claim time, so we took that on board early.
“I have spoken to other life brokers about coming on board to help feed referrals, which is something we’re continuing to look at, and the more I spoke to people on the risk side the more I realised there are numerous life brokers who have never marketed the general insurance into their database because they’ve never known who to refer it to or how to ringfence their clients properly.
“There were six or seven who I would deem successful life brokers who had similar issues so it does appear to be a common problem,” he said.
Young says it was partly a fear of that happening to them that marked the catalyst for their branching out.
“There have been times in the past where we have felt our relationship with our clients was put at risk because we couldn’t service all of their needs. Now we feel confident we can offer them a one stop shop to meet all of their insurance needs.”
He adds: “We’ve had a lot of feedback from clients who’ve said they’ve had a broker on the F&G side for a long time and he’s retired or sold out to a larger broking company so they’ve lost that personal connection.
“That gave us some real confidence that there was an opportunity for guys like us to come in and offer that high end personal service, that’s the feedback we’ve had and the research we did.”
However, Young doesn’t claim to have become an instant expert in the F&G side, a skillset he says either comes naturally or it doesn’t!
Rather, he has recruited someone to head up that side who does have the technical knowledge and experience, his former colleague from early in his career working at AMP, Kane Butler.
A former senior broker at Rothbury
, Butler jumped at the chance to become a shareholder and says it’s an exciting time to be in the industry.
“It’s a new phase with how the industry is going, with some of the big players in F&G merging with the smaller firms,” says Butler. “Managing some of those insurer relationships will be some of the challenges going forward and making sure we’ve got those relationships to negotiate the deals for our clients.”
Butler relishes using the advantages of being small saying it’s much easier to be nimble and implement a new process or respond to customer feedback, something both Butler and Young feel is absolutely key to the BRAVEday philosophy.
“Acting on the feedback is the biggest thing,” says Butler. “It’s one thing to get it, but to use it and use it in the right way, that’s really important.”
Young says their early adoption of social media such as Twitter and Facebook to communicate with their clients has made this process much easier.
“When we firmed up who our target market was, which is professionals or business owners, it became a lot easier to communicate directly to them. We blog twice a week and I would say only 20-30% of it is insurance related.
“We want to be a trusted friend for our clients and social media’s a great way to do it. We have had referrals sent to us from using it so it has been a good tool for us.”
This has been reflected by the awards that BRAVEday has collected so far, one of which includes being a finalist in the Excellence in Customer Engagement category in the Westpac Auckland North Business Awards last year.
The high end customer service they’ve built their reputation on is not something the wider insurance industry is generally known for, Young says, and that makes him especially proud to have beaten off a wide range of industries.