Broker bowled over

Broker bowled over | Insurance Business

Broker bowled over
James Shearing is still working his way through hundreds of emails in his inbox congratulating him on his big win at the 2014 ANZIIF Insurance Industry Awards last week.

The career coup is somewhat of a first for a guy who doesn’t normally seek out awards.

“I remember winning the 5m breast stroke in swimming at school,” he jokes, “But in insurance it’s really just been some company recognition internally. This is a first from an industry perspective. It’s a pretty big deal for me.”

Since recently being made manager of broking at Crombie Lockwood, the Wellington-based ex-pat Brit said his focus had changed.

“That’s probably why I went for the award because now I’m involved in managing an office of 25 so I guess I’ve half taken that step.

“I’m still very much involved in broking but it’s really just to ensure I’m continuing to develop my skill sets.”

Indeed, Shearing is now a senior associate of ANZIIF and says he is contemplating doing higher education.

The judges commended Shearing for his “continued efforts to hone his technical and leadership skills, his outstanding professional conduct and integrity and his obvious dedication to client service.”

Says Shearing: “In my submission my three key values were passion, excellence and integrity.

“I’m a pretty passionate kind of guy; the excellence is around the technical qualifications getting to senior associate and integrity is about doing the right thing for your client.”

His passion has sometimes tended towards being a workaholic, something which Shearing credits his wife for reforming him on. His heartfelt tribute to her in his acceptance speech drew smiles from the audience and praise from MC Jon Bridges on the night.

“I meant every word I said,” he says. “When you commit to a job you need the backing of your partner and I’m a bit of a workaholic so having her reform me has been part of my success.”

He added: “Acting professionally is knowing your limitations and calling in experts to assist you when appropriate. I’d also like to acknowledge the work and patience that all my colleagues have shown me. A true team effort!”

Like most, Shearing fell into insurance quite by chance.

“Me and a friend of mine went up to London on the train looking for a job, he got a job in banking and I got one in insurance and we’re still doing the same thing 20 years later.”

He says he has worked on both sides of the fence – as underwriter and broker – or poacher and gamekeeper!

He started off with ACM, then ACM Ahlers before Crombie Lockwood.

He said while the win was awesome, equally, if not more important was job satisfaction.

“You’ve got to be confident and happy in what you do and I think a lot of people in life do jobs that they don’t actually enjoy doing. I’m probably in a small minority who truly enjoy what they’re doing.”

What he loves most, he says, is getting claims paid.

“It’s effectively where you’re fulfilling your clients’ expectations and fulfilling the contractual obligations that insurance is put in place for.

“We sell quite an amazing intangible product which only becomes tangible when you have a claim. So all the amazing professional stuff that we do counts for nothing unless you actually deliver on the promise to pay a claim.

“Claims are our way to make sure we’ve got a business I guess.”

What the industry could do better, he says, is focus less on price and concentrate on ensuring the client is appropriately covered.

“Claims not being paid or claims not being covered are pretty much the same thing. Where we can cover a claim and charge a premium that’s equitable, why aren’t we doing that?”

Shearing is the second Crombie Lockwood broker to be recognised by the industry recently. His colleague, Martin Lines, was awarded the IBANZ Outstanding Broking Professional of the Year at last month’s conference.