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Making your mark as a young broker


June 12, 2019   by Adam Malik


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From left, Marg Torrance of Halwell Mutual Insurance Company; Donna Ince of RSA; Paul Stone of Travelers Canada; and Paul Sweetnam of Economical Insurance participate in a panel discussion at the IBAO’s Young Brokers Conference in June 2019.

Network, build your brand, develop partnerships and squash procrastination – those are just some of the things young brokers need to do as they move up the ranks.

With a room full of young brokers in front of them, expert panellists were asked to give them one piece of advice that would help in their careers during the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario’s Young Broker Conference in Niagara Falls, Ont., recently.

Paul Sweetnam, Ontario region’s vice president at Economical Insurance, started off by pushing the importance of networking as a young broker and developing good contacts to develop a strong book of business.

“You got to be strategic around how you go about developing that network,” he added. “If you can get out there and develop that network and help add value to that network before you actually have to go to that network and bring that business in, then that always makes it a lot easier as well.”

It’s that networking that helps build your band, said Paul Stone, vice president of national distribution engagement for sales and distribution at Travelers Canada. Not many realize that they have a personal brand, which is what customers are also buying when dealing with their broker.

“You have a brand that’s incredibly valuable. The committees you join, the charities you support, the teams that you’re on – that’s your brand,” Stone said. “It’s also about sitting down with the leadership [of your brokerage] and looking for opportunities to enrich that brand. It’s asking questions and making sure you’re leveraging everything you can because everybody has a brand.”

Your brand also extends to how you treat people. “From the mailroom to the CEO, treat everyone the exact same. We hear these horror stories of someone dealing with someone at a certain level [and] they tore a strip off them. Don’t do it. It will haunt you. It will follow you. Your reputation is everything. Guard it. Promote it,” Stone advised.

The one term that came to the mind of Marg Torrance, president and chief executive officer at Halwell Mutual Insurance Company, was “partnership” and the need to have a strong relationship between broker and carrier.

“Believe it or not, the carriers are not the enemy. They are your partner. We do want to hear what those issues are that you’re having in the front lines and we do want to have full transparency,” she said.

Challenge carriers when they are being vague, she added. “Hold us to account for that. Say, ‘No, I need an explanation from you because I’ve got a client sitting right here that needs an explanation for what they’re being covered for and why that price is what it is.’”

Donna Ince, senior vice president of personal insurance at RSA, slammed procrastination. When you as a broker have something difficult to do, get it done first thing in the morning.

“That can mean having a really difficult conversation with that client,” she explained. “But get ahead of it. Get in front of it. Don’t do it by email. Pick up the phone or make a visit. With your larger commercial accounts, it’s really about leaning in even when it’s tough.”

Stone had one more piece of advice: Upgrade, combine and promote your people skills with technological knowledge so you can hit the younger market. Do it right and you can be a “killer broker. You’re going to rock it.”


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