Industry changes will lead to huge growth, says AR network MD

Industry changes will lead to huge growth, says AR network MD | Insurance Business New Zealand

Industry changes will lead to huge growth, says AR network MD
Authorised representative network Insurance Advisernet expects record growth of 50 per cent and $150 million of premiums in New Zealand over the next two years.

The ambitious prediction follows the news last week that the Australian company divested its underwriting agencies to Austagencies, the sale of which will be completed on 31 March.

New Zealand managing director David Crawford told Insurance Business he was very excited about the future, saying IANZ was ideally placed to capitalise on the changes taking place in the New Zealand insurance industry.

“We have got big ambitions for growth,” said Crawford. “We started in New Zealand in 2006 from the ground up, and we now have 32 brokers spread out around the country.

“I was with Ian Carr (Insurance Advisernet Australia chairman) doing our planning for this year and, looking at the opportunities out there, we think we will grow by 50 per cent in the next two years which is tremendous growth.

“We are very well placed, we have the scope and the resources now that we can actually grow our broker numbers quite quickly without any need for resources or IT or whatever.”

Crawford said what characterises their membership could be broken down into three main categories.

First, there are the younger people deciding to leave the bigger organisations to go out on their own; second, there are the existing F&G brokers looking to the future regulations and changing technology who realise they can’t or don’t want to do it all alone; and thirdly, life advisers either singly or in groups who want to get into the General insurance space and keep hold of their client.

It is the first category that Crawford expects to grow the most, possibly further lowering IANZ’s already youthful average age of 42.

“We’re continuing to attract the younger professionals,” said Crawford. “It’s extremely difficult to start up your own business but with us we provide the back office admin services, computer system and compliance, education and training.

“Plus being part of Austbrokers helps give us a lot more leverage with insurers which helps our members compete with the big guys.”

Crawford says IANZ has anticipated certain tightening in legislation. “At the moment the legislation is that when you pay your broker you have paid your insurance. But there have been incidences where insurers have had to make up shortfalls if the broker has used the money for other purposes.

“We have a trust account, so for us it’s another safety measure so the broker can say to the client, ‘We don’t touch your money'. So we operate at a higher level than the legislation currently calls for. And that increases that professionalism.”

Crawford says another way they differ is buying their brokers $100 million of professional indemnity insurance. “It’s saying we stand behind the service they provide, we add that extra set value and support which enables them to play alongside the much bigger guys.”

IANZ now find themselves in the position of having brokers referred to them and Crawford says if prospective members possess qualities including professionalism, integrity, an ethic of hard work  and are good at making a personal connection with their clients then they would be a good fit for IANZ.

“People know now when they come to see us it’s not easy to get in and you have got to come via a reference,” said Crawford.