Five Minutes With… Steve Owens, CEO Provident Insurance

Five Minutes With… Steve Owens, CEO Provident Insurance | Insurance Business

Five Minutes With… Steve Owens, CEO Provident Insurance
Why did you get into insurance? 
I left school at the age of 18 and went straight to work for the Inland Revenue Dept. I spent 10 years at the Hamilton office as an Income Tax Assessor and later moved into the Audit Dept. I became bored auditing businesses (most of which were SME’s trying hard to make an honest living) and one day a detective friend of mine in Hamilton CIB asked if I’d like to get my teeth into taxing people involved in illegal activities. I thought it would be far more interesting trying to extract information from criminals than looking to squeeze more from those that are already paying their share – and that’s where I learned my sales skills. We all know selling is 80% listening and 20% speaking. People dealing in illegal activities don’t want to tell you anything so you have to ask questions carefully, listen intently …. and watch your back. From this my interest grew in sales and I left the IRD to set up a business manufacturing and distributing paint and fabric protection in the motor industry. One of my clients was John Copson who owned an insurance company, Autosure, through which we distributed the products, along with his warranty and insurance products, to his motor vehicle dealer clients. As a result of our association John offered me a role in his company. I progressed from Sales Rep to National Sales and Marketing Manager, and then on to General Manager after John eventually sold the business to Vero. After a further 8 years with Vero I left to join John in his finance company, setting up a small mortgage brokerage. The lure of the motor industry was always knocking on my door though and after 12 months decided to set up Provident Insurance. 

How would you sum up insurance brokers in three words? 
We deal mostly with motor vehicle dealers, who are professional, hungry and fun.
How would you change the industry? 
The industry is constantly changing and technology is playing a big part. Strong customer relationships, value-added service and technology.

What’s the most important thing a broker can do to develop their business? 
Focus on people, relationships and adding value.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? 
Winners never quit, quitters never win.

If you were Prime Minister for one day, what would you do? 
Remove some of the barriers that prevent growth, free trade and development in NZ.

What has been the highlight of your career? 
Launching Provident Insurance.

What’s your favoured style of coffee? 
Boring flat white, sorry (but no sugar).

Union, league, soccer or other? 
Melville United AFC (soccer the real football). 

If you could invite three people to dinner, dead or alive, and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why? 
Colin Giltrap – the most respected and influential person in the NZ motor industry, 
Bill Clinton – a charismatic and inspirational leader, and 
Brendan O’Carroll (Mrs Brown’s Boys) – I just love his her humour.

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t in insurance, I would be…
Doing something else I’m extremely passionate about. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, do something else. My other passion is property.