Insurance Business spoke with Langridge to get a view of her insurance journey as well as her insights about the industry.
Insurance Business: Who or what has inspired you to become an insurance broker? What led you to this industry?
Charlotte Langridge: In 2012, I completed a double degree at the University of Canterbury (a BCom in Management/Marketing & and a BA Media Communications). After this, I moved to Australia for a couple of years where I was first exposed to insurance via a banking sales consultant role. Then I returned home to Christchurch in 2014 and was offered a broker support role at Runacres. Eventually, in 2017, I got promoted to broker after working hard to gain a solid working knowledge of the role and wider industry. During that time, I’ve also completed my Level 4 and 5 financial services certificates, which has complemented the knowledge gained through on-the-job learning.
IB: I see that you previously worked as a marketing assistant for two different clothing companies. What have you learned from those experiences and how do these lessons help you now (if they help you in any way)?
CL: I initially planned a career in marketing, so I worked part-time in this industry while completing my degrees and also for a brief time upon moving to Australia. Although it feels like a past life now, I definitely learned a number of things which have transferred into my role as a broker including how to multi-task in a busy role, clear communication skills, and how to build effective working relationships.
IB: Tell us briefly about your company and its role in the industry. What makes it different from other companies in the same space?
CL: At Runacres, we are client-focused and work hard to find the right solutions for our clients, both existing and new. We’re committed to providing excellent service at all times and thinking outside the box where needed. In particular, we have a talented and professional team and have created a culture where we help each other and share knowledge to best support our clients.
IB: What was your most memorable client experience so far?
CL: In Christchurch after the earthquakes, there’s been a number of memorable client experiences, particularly around seeing difficult claims come to a positive conclusion. The most memorable that I can think of is for a complex multi-unit claim which had stagnated, and for which I took responsibility to get it over the line with a good outcome for all involved. I enjoy being able to put my negotiation and communication skills to the test through a difficult and challenging situation.
IB: What’s the hardest, most challenging part of being a broker?
CL: I think the most important challenge is to keep up with the changing landscape – whether that be due to natural disasters, general market volatility with rate changes, new products and policy wordings, or changing demands of clients. We need to always be a step ahead and well versed in any new development, so that we can confidently advise our clients of the best solutions for their needs in the current market.
IB: What do you see as the biggest opportunity for brokers this new year?
CL: As brokers, I think the biggest opportunity is always to differentiate ourselves. At Runacres, we endeavour to do so by showcasing our understanding of our client’s businesses and extensive knowledge to be sure they have the right covers in place.
IB: What do you think about the robo-advice (digital advice) exemption under the FMA comes into effect in May. Will you be applying for a licence?
CL: While the idea of robo-advice might definitely have its benefits and be seen as a positive move in the right direction by some (i.e. making it easier and quicker to get advice, in keeping with how many of our younger clients like to operate), I don’t think the need for real-life people will be replaced in our industry. I do, however, think it is important for the wider industry to be aware of enhancements in technology and how we can utilise them to our advantage.
IB: Does the industry need more regulation?
CL: I don’t particularly have an opinion on this one way or another – I understand every industry needs to be cautious that the right checks and balances are in place, but of course an overload of “red-tape” makes things tricky for everyone.
IB: Outside the broking business, what do you enjoy doing, aside from spending time with friends and family?
CL: Spending time with friends and family is a big one for me; apart from that I like to be outside (in the warmer months) staying active and exploring new places. My partner and I live right in town too so it’s interesting wandering out for coffee on a Saturday morning and seeing the latest post-quake progress in Christchurch.
IB: Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t in insurance broking, I would be…
CL: I honestly don’t know! I think because I’ve worked in another industry before I know that insurance is the place for me, and I don’t have the same curiosity as to what another career could offer. But maybe being a paid international travel blogger would be nice.