Day 2 Highlights from the 2023 NIBA Convention
The 2023 NIBA Convention continued on the second day, as all attendees were challenged to ‘think differently’ about all aspects of the broking profession – from supporting vulnerable clients, the future of insurance broking, and leveraging technology to assist business.
Attendees also got to hear more about the strategic direction of NIBA moving forward and the Convention closed with the reveal of the venue and date of the 2024 NIBA Convention. Here are some key highlights from day two of the Convention.
Breakout session 1 – Soft landings are hard to do
In a highly engaging and insightful session, Martin Lakos, Divisional Director at Macquarie Bank provided a deep dive into the current global economy, with a key focus on the US and China economies and geopolitical risks, including the Russian/Ukraine conflict.
Martin outlined how the contraction of growth in China and their efforts to reinvigorate the economy is having an impact on global economies, including Australia.
Martin also provided an in-depth analysis of the current Australian economy.
He highlighted that while inflation of goods is declining, service inflation is unfortunately still 'sticky'. In addition to a buoyant labour market and rising house prices, it is expected that the cash rate will peak at 4.35% by November and will likely stabilise for 9 months.
Breakout session 2 – Unlocking New Horizons: Technology and AI Transformations in Brokerage
As technology and artificial intelligence continue to revolutionise the insurance landscape, brokers are presented with unprecedented opportunities to elevate customer service and streamline their operations. In this enlightening session, a panel of industry experts shared their insights on the emerging trends both in Australia and globally, and their profound implications for insurance brokers.
Simone Dossetor, CEO of Insurtech Australia, explored key trends such as machine learning, generative AI, data analytics, and alternative data sources that are impacting brokers.
Dianne Phelan, Past President of NIBA, shared insights on how brokers are adopting insurtech solutions, shedding light on the evolving technology landscape.
Lisa Woodley, Director of Zap Central, provided a unique perspective on the development of cutting-edge broker technology platforms, exploring the possibilities of the digital era.
Finally, Andy Jamieson, Founder and CEO of Advisr, used the case study of how Advisr, an innovative Insurtech platform, can facilitate meaningful connections between individuals and trustworthy brokers.
Breakout Session 3 – Reimagining Key Alliances: 5 Keys to Building meaningful business relationships
In this highly interactive session, Nikki got delegates thinking about and discussing the value behind building strong and meaningful connections.
She shared five top tips on how you can ensure that you are maximising your opportunities to network to build truly beneficial relationships.
- You have to challenge yourself and put yourself out there – it can be uncomfortable to network or introduce yourself to someone new, but it is also the crucial first step.
- Find ways to keep in touch – identify commonalities and think outside of the box about ways to keep yourself top of mind. Don’t become a ‘serial stalker’, but maintain the hard work you put in laying the groundwork.
- Take the time and invest in your reputation and build your personal brand. You have to dedicate time and effort in order to build credibility – and then you can reap the rewards.
- Find ways to add value for others – get creative and think about how you can be a source for innovation or solutions for others. Whether it is mentoring or starting up a discussion group, the possibilities are endless and you can find your niche.
- Do what you say you are going to do. You do not want to be the person who promised a report would be in by midday but doesn’t get it in on time. Be realistic and be truthful – the rest will follow.
Breakout Session 4 – Leading change in a changing world
This session gave delegates practical insights into how leaders can help their people and organisations through change.
Jenny Haddad, Principal Consultant from Spring Business Consulting began by referencing a Forbes study which found that leaders within organisations spend, on average, 20% of their time managing or leading their people through change. That’s one day per week.
While change is a given, acceptance levels of change vary drastically between people. However, being open to change is actually crucial.
Noel Kelly, Director from AEI Insurance Broking Group shared his experience and the adjustments that his team went through as they have grown from a team of 10 to 105. He shared the highs and was honest about the lows, but he encouraged delegates to be open and embrace change. He advised leaders to be realistic about timelines, and use data to their advantage in supporting the benefits of the change. He also emphasised the importance of having clear parameters and sticking to them.
Jenny finished by summarising some key tips for leaders on how best to manage change:
- Clearly define the purpose and vision behind the change. People will want an explanation, make sure you have the answers.
- Regular communication is also key.
- Get people involved and engage them in your plans.
- Address resistance and concerns openly.
- Provide training and support through the change.
- Promote work-life balance. Change can be hard and tiring as people adjust, so make sure you encourage people to recharge.
- Recognise progress – and applaud it when you see it.
- Build a strong change-leadership team to support and communicate out the changes.
- And finally, but most importantly – lead by example.
Breakout Session 5 – The Exec Chat, Panel Session
An empowering and enlightening panel discussion focused on trailblazing women in insurance, including Rebecca Wilson, Dianne Phelan, Lynette Walsh, and moderated by NIBA Convention Chair Steven Hill. In celebration of the remarkable contributions made by women and female leaders in the industry, this session showcased their expertise, leadership, and achievements.
Through a diversity and inclusion lens, this panel discussion shed light on the unique perspectives and experiences of women in insurance and the inspiring careers journeys that have led them to success.
Attendees gained valuable insights from successful female leaders who have shattered glass ceilings, overcome challenges, and made a significant impact in the field. With each of the panellists having a different journey that led them to broking, the session also reaffirmed the idea that insurance broking is a profession that welcomes people from all walks of life and varied experiences.
The panellists also addressed current issues that the profession is facing, such as the need to attract talent, and reiterated the value of an initiative like ‘Insure Your Future’ launched by NIBA.
Breakout Session 6 – How to Grow Your Brokerage – Efficient Systems and Structured Processes
Managing and growing a brokerage can be challenging, especially if your technology is dated and consists of multiple systems.
Pieter Versluis, General Manager at Trans-West Insurance Brokers shared his valuable insights about how his business chose to engage JAVLN in 2020 to implement a central cloud-based platform.
Peter outlined the benefits of adopting this technology which included the ability to make data driven decisions so you can put your clients first, enhance and improve compliance requirements and increase productivity by 20%.
Dale Smith, CEO and Founder at JAVLN, provided insights into how JAVLN's strategy and approach help his clients including Trans-West Insurance Brokers achieve effective and solution-based systems.
Thank you to simfuni for sponsoring this session.
Supporting Vulnerable Clients: Insights from Banking’s Best Practices
In her afternoon session, Prue Monument, General Manager Code Compliance, AFCA covered three broad areas – the Code obligations for the broking community, what actions brokers can take to remain compliant and support vulnerable clients, and some examples of best practice.
Ms Monument reiterated the fact that supporting clients experiencing vulnerability is part of the commitment undertaken by brokers as per Insurance Brokers Code of Practice. As per sections 10.1 and 10.2 of the Code, identifying vulnerable clients and supporting them are key commitments that brokers undertake.
A number of factors can influence vulnerability such as age, disability, mental health conditions, language barriers or cultural background, among other factors. Vulnerability is not static. It can affect anyone at any time.
Ms Monument stressed numbers from AIHW that 8.6 million Australians (44% of the population) aged 16-85 years of age have experienced a mental disorder at some point in their life. Furthermore, 1 in 5 have experienced a mental disorder in the past twelve months. Hence, as brokers, you engage with vulnerable clients every day.
Ms Monument identified five key areas that are important in identifying and supporting vulnerable clients. These areas are:
- Executive oversight
- Skills and capabilities
- Policies and procedures
- Inclusive service design
- Ongoing review and improvement.
The Great Debate
Representatives from brokers and insurers went head-to-head in an entertaining and thought-provoking debate about the future of insurance broking. The affirmative side argued that there will be a considerable shift in the roles insurance brokers perform, the way they engage with their clients, and how they transact business with insurers. The negative side argued that we need to accept that technology might influence an insurance broker’s day-to-day working life, but the role of a broker will be fundamentally the same, as will the way they engage with their clients and insurers.
The audience voted by cheering and the negative team won the debate.
Strategic Direction of NIBA
The session outlined the key priorities from a NIBA strategic perspective and was a chance for NIBA members to ask any questions they might have about NIBA’s priorities.
The panel, consisting of NIBA CEO Phil Kewin, NIBA President Gary Okely, NIBA Past President Dianne Phelan and NIBA Vice-President Nicholas Cook, discussed the recommendations of the Quality of Advice Review, the challenges of attracting talent to the industry and the lack of understanding in the broader public about the value of an insurance broker and what an insurance broker does.
NIBA President Gary Okely highlighted the need to change the perception around the term ‘broker’ from implying to be a transactor to being seen as a trusted business partner. The panel also discussed the challenges for the profession that have come about due to the skills gap resulting from the lack of knowledge transfer from senior brokers to younger brokers taking their first steps in the industry.
NIBA Convention Chair Steven Hill delivered the Convention Closing Address, recapping some of the major highlights from the past two days. The winner of the NIBA Marketplace Engagement Competition was revealed. Congratulations to Sherese Peckham from IOOF for winning the competition. The date for next year’s Convention was also revealed. The 2024 NIBA Convention will be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre from 20 – 22 October 2024.
Gus Balbontin – Closing Keynote Speaker
A natural innovator and someone who has never fit in defined systems all his life, the Convention’s closing keynote speaker Gus Balbontin, the former CTO of Lonely Planet challenged the attendees to embrace novelty in their lives and break conventional patterns. With his enthusiastic personality and a bundle of energy, his presentation lit up the room with infectious laughter that captured everyone’s attention.
He shared many stories from his life which demonstrated the value of novelty. One of the inspiring projects he’s been involved with include The Unrealistic Foundation. Focused on changing the future of education, The Unrealistic Foundation invests in companies or startups that have both the ambition and desire to find better ways to educate and learn.
Balbontin stressed the need to be adaptable to take charge of the future. Balbontin’s mantra is: “bring novelty into your business and innovation will follow.”