Broker wants the industry to accelerate its talent push

Auckland director reflects on industry challenges

Broker wants the industry to accelerate its talent push

Insurance News

By Daniel Wood

Mark Mallard, director of Crème Insurance, loves cars.

“That’s the cool thing about insurance,” said the Auckland-based insurance broker. “You can have a niche focus in insurance and offer coverage for what you enjoy – so there are boat people who do boat insurance, car lovers do car insurance, art people do art insurance.”

Mallard and his team of 10 sell a range of coverages but are focused on selling insurance niche products through motor vehicle dealers and also directly to customers.

Crème, as the name suggests, deals with insurance for high end motor vehicles. The broker said his day-to-day job can involve walking into a Ferrari dealer and talking about car coverages.

“I really enjoy my job because I deal with what I love,” said Mallard.

Big issue: a shortage of industry talent

Insurance Business asked the broker to reflect on his main insurance challenges last year?

For Mallard, it was the shortage of insurance industry talent. He said that issue isn’t going away anytime soon.  

“Getting appropriate and skilled staff that are level five qualified has probably been the hardest thing for us over the years,” he said.

Mallard said currently, and throughout 2023, the employment market is tight.

Economic challenges

IB asked about the impact of last year’s inflation and the ongoing rising cost-of-living?

Mallard suggested brokers are accustomed to dealing with these ups and downs. However, he said some customers who bought properties in the last couple of years are under considerable pressure because of the rise in interest rates and this had had a flow on effect for other industries.

He also expected the industry’s economic challenges to continue, particularly the rising costs facing customers.

“It’s probably the same issue in all markets, people need to have money to pay for insurance,” said Mallard. “We’re seeing people wanting to downgrade covers, reduce covers, which obviously reduces [our] income, because that’s what they can afford.”

However, the broker suggested that the ongoing shortage of insurance industry talent in New Zealand is more of a concern.

“We’ve had people that are in and out of the industry,” said Mallard.  “[But] There’s not really many outside the industry that could come back and that are sufficiently qualified - you need to have that pool of additional people.”

Talent crunch: What to do?

On this talent crunch issue, IB asked the brokerage director what he’d like to see done about it?

“I think it starts with the whole industry, including insurers,” said Mallard. “A lot of companies are worried about getting [their] people qualified because they’re concerned that that will mean that they’re stealable by the broker market.”

However, he said there needs to be “an industry wide increase in skills.”

“I also think we need to attack the job market in terms of attracting students,” said Mallard. He referred to the industry’s familiar image problem.

“There are not many kids who say, ‘I want to be an insurance broker’,” he said. “Lots say they want to be lawyers, or bankers, or property developers.”

Mallard said he’s very proud of his profession and working in the industry is a secure way to make a living with good remuneration.

“So we need to market ourselves to that school and university leaver better,” he said.

Could this idea help?

In Australia, recruitment firm Blake Oliver Consulting is involved in a novel initiative that is helping to chip away at the industry’s image problem and attract young talent.

For the last two years, the firm has spearheaded a unique recruitment drive, together with the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) and Insurtech Australia.

The initiative involves hosting roundtable lunches where university students can meet senior insurance professionals who showcase industry career options. The students attend for free after an application process.

“We’ve been attending careers fairs and liaised quite closely with [university] lecturers,” said Daniel Marsh, Blake Oliver’s managing director.

He said in recent months, new clients – including a wide range of universities, schools and insurance firms have come on board to support the initiative.

“Name a university and we’re probably speaking to them,” he said.

Are you an insurance broker? What do you see as your main challenges this year? Please tell us below.

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