Why did you get into insurance?
I met ICNZ CEO Chris Ryan at a social function 14 years ago when I was selling real estate. We talked for a while, then he said “I’ve got a role for you if you want a real job”. I pondered this deeply for a nano second and accepted. It’s the best decision I’ve made.
How have your perceptions of the industry changed now that you’re in it?
As an accountant, my view of insurance was as just another overhead, but one where cost savings could be made by reducing cover, increasing excesses etc. I quickly realised how wrong I was when I came to understand the way insurance transfers risk and enables us to leverage our businesses and personal assets and grow these much faster and bigger than if we were unprotected against risk.
How would you change the industry?
Grow the industry into a regional hub of insurance expertise. As a country we are intelligent people, well-educated and politically stable, all necessary features for a strong financial market. With technology, distance isn’t so important so NZ’s isolation isn’t so relevant anymore. We must do everything we can to reverse the current trend to off-shore large parts of our business. We must retain insurance business on-shore and become a technical hub of insurance expertise. That way we keep insurance jobs for our children and grandchildren.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Have many children”! With our 7 children every day is filled with laughter, fun, joy, love…and poverty. Now the grandchildren are coming along it has multiplied all of these benefits…especially poverty!
If you were Prime Minister for one day, what would you do?
Introduce support for large families by making family tickets cover all the kids, not just 2; introduce the naughty chair into the parliamentary debating chamber; close down Campbell Live; make political correctness a crime…oh and bring in world peace!
What has been the highlight of your career?
Meeting people! This Insurance Council role gives so many chances to meet fantastic people in the industry. Despite the highly competitive nature of the industry there is a camaraderie among insurers that makes them fun and exciting to work and socialise with.
What’s your favoured style of coffee?
Irish…made as follows; hot black coffee, rich thick cream, a sprinkle of sugar and a large dash of smokey single malt whisky. Then throw away the coffee and slowly savour the whisky.
Union, league, soccer or other?
Union. Rugby has a position for everyone, no matter what shape or size. When coaching I watched young kids really develop as they conquered their fears and mastered skills. Rugby grows young boys into men.
If you could invite three people to dinner, dead or alive, and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Ritchie McCaw, to ask him why he cheats so much when he plays against Wellington, but never cheats when playing for the All Blacks. (Always perplexes me).
Frederick Ozanam, the founder of the St Vincent de Paul Society whose lifelong theme was the incredible privilege of working for the poor.
Malachy McCourt, Irish author, raconteur and humourist…he’d certainly liven up the dinner.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t in insurance, I would be…
Starting a business washing rubbish bins….seriously! My son does it in Ireland and it’s booming!