Q&A With… Paul Munton, Rothbury

Q&A With… Paul Munton, Rothbury | Insurance Business

Q&A With… Paul Munton, Rothbury
How would you describe your first year in this role?
Fantastic, warmly welcomed by the Rothbury team and made to feel like part of the Group from the “get-go”.

What have been the biggest challenges?
Getting up to speed with the organisation and then figuring out my priorities. Rothbury is a great business and the challenge is ensuring I make a contribution to drive growth and add value.

What have been the highpoints?
The branch visits meeting our staff and clients throughout New Zealand and working closely with a small but very focussed leadership team.

How long did it take you to work out what your next move would be after the Lumley merger was announced and why did you decide to move on?
IAG/NZI enjoy a well-deserved reputation and my decision to leave was in no way a reflection of the organisation or the people. Roles were available if I had opted to stay, for which I was/am grateful. This was simply a personal decision.
I was fortunate enough to be offered a new opportunity post the merger announcement.  This followed what had been a fairly demanding, challenging and rewarding period at Lumley/NZI in the post EQ environment.

How would you say your skills as an ‘intrepreneur’ have been utilised in this role?
I have both the scope and resources available to further develop our products and service offerings. I am also fortunate that I can collaborate with my Steadfast colleagues both here and in Australia so leverage our capabilities and market strength.

As your role puts you in contact with a broad scope of departments (HR, IT, marketing, etc) how do you keep across all of that effectively?
It largely comes down to building internal relationships. Our environment is very transparent and we enjoy a good level of engagement across the business. Politics is not an issue here at Rothbury and I have been largely reliant upon the goodwill of my colleagues across the business.

How do you balance the industry experience and knowledge you have attained whilst staying tuned in to new ideas/methods?
One of the great things about our business is change. We need to continually adapt and embrace change. I still have a lot to learn and am continually trying to remain relevant and encourage others to do the same. For me it is not about academia, it is about challenging myself – a quest of personal development, which I hope will be of value to others. 

Regarding your ANZIIF responsibilities – what drives you to maintain that level of involvement there?
I have been involved with ANZIIF for most of my career in one form or another, ranging from being a student to committee involvement in the early years to Assistant Examiner in various subjects, to Advisory Boards, and now as a Director of ANZIIF.
I am happy to give something back to the industry and help others establish/build their careers. ANZIIF provides a great service and I take great personal satisfaction from being a small part of what is the pre-eminent provider of education to our industry.     

Can you name some specific highlights and learnings from your various ANZIIF roles?
I was a part of the Insurance Institute of New Zealand pre-merger, and therefore was also a part of and voted for the merger in what became ANZIIF. The organisation has morphed into a very well run and internationally recognised body that delivers top quality insurance education to thousands of members.
The development of our on-line learning modules and website is world class and a real value-add to the insurance industry. I encourage readers to check it out https://anziif.com/

What do you love about insurance?
I love the challenge of shifting dynamics. We are influenced by the market forces, mother-nature, global trends, ever changing regulatory influences, and consumerism to name a few. We pick up the pieces when things go wrong and take great satisfaction from doing so.
This profession has treated me well and I enjoy the comradery across all segments of the business.   

How would you describe insurance people? And NZ insurance people in particular?
That is a broad question - overall the vast majority are professional and career minded.
Whilst it is not well promoted, certainly not as well as I would like to see,  as a career path when people find their way in they frequently discover what a wonderful variety of roles are available to accommodate any number of skill sets and discipline. Geographic boundaries broaden the opportunity and the skills are universally transferable to most parts of the world.
However it is up to us to manage our career paths, not our employers, so my advice to others is to take charge of your destiny. 

What would you change about the industry?
I would love industry bodies (ICNZ/ANZIIF /IBANZ/NZILA etc) to collaborate and promote our industry, to educate the public on our roles and purpose, and promote insurance as a career.
Too often we react to the media rather than front footing issues and taking centre stage. I believe we lost some great opportunities with the Canterbury earthquakes in terms of prime time TV education on claims mitigation, self-help, claims response etc. It may not sound sexy but pragmatic advice or guidance in the situations experienced in Canterbury could have headed off a lot of post event complaints and positioned the industry in a much more favourable light.
In times of disaster it would be great to park our own company agenda and collaborate for the sake of the community. That does not mean having a detrimental financial impact on claimants or shareholders.  The ICNZ facilitated a lot of good work in this space but I ask myself could we have done more?

From your experience on both sides (broking and underwriting) what’s the most important thing brokers and insurers can do to improve their relationship?
Conduct our activities with professionalism, respect and good grace. I subscribe to old fashioned values for which I make no apology.
We operate in a competitive and dynamic market and we all need to make a profit to stay in business. Be commercial, be competitive, but treat your colleagues appropriately.  Kindness does not mean weakness.

Name three career highlights.
  • Involvement in the Canterbury EQ response. For all the challenges we are fortunate to have played a small part in the rebuild and have seen insurance in action on a grand scale, and in our own country.
  • The amazing network of friends and colleagues that I have developed throughout my career.
  • The opportunity for self-determination in terms of driving my career and professional development. How many industries can offer such opportunities?  I have been an Underwriter, Reinsurer and Broker.  Life is good.