February 3, 2019 by Jason Contant, Online Editor
A new, revised broker accreditation program is expected to address a concern that brokers entering the industry may not always have a deep understanding of the competencies required to be a professional advisor.
When it comes to broker errors and omissions claims, “one of the biggest issues we face is that people who are new to our business are probably not getting a deep enough understanding of the actual responsibilities of being an insurance broker,” says Hugh Fardy, senior vice president of professional liability for Arthur J. Gallagher Canada’s Ontario region. “We have a responsibility to make sure we have a good understanding of our clients and their situation so we can identify their exposures. I think the level at which that has been addressed is perhaps not always deep enough for people getting into the business.”
That appears to be changing. The Insurance Brokers Association of Canada (IBAC) is looking to present a new, revised Canadian Accredited Insurance Broker (CAIB) program in Fall 2019, says Sandra Parker, IBAC’s manager of professional development. The new proprietary content will address 10 broad broker competency areas, including:
It will also cover emerging issues such as the sharing economy, terrorism, overland flood, earthquake, mass evacuation and drones, as well as subjects like digital marketing.
CAIB was first introduced in 1996. Brokers understand the need to go beyond regular reviews and updates of the program, Parker says. Originally, IBAC used a “broker skill profile” as a rough guide to help shape content reviews, program revision and development. “But we thought it didn’t go quite as far [as needed], because it was just skills,” says Parker. “We knew there was whole other dimension, which is now quite commonly known in other industries as competencies.”
Competencies address key job-related responsibilities that brokers are expected to carry out. They describe the behavioural aspects of carrying out skills.
“We thought, ‘Before we take a deep dive into CAIB, we’ll take a look at the skills profile and upgrade it,’” Parker says. “We will make it more robust by creating a competency profile for insurance brokers.”
What do brokers entering the field need to know? A Quebec organization with a mandate to attract and enhance the image of professionals working in the P&C industry conducted a study in March 2018. It found that brokerages “are seeking candidates with high levels of soft skills who position themselves more as advisors than salespersons,” reports the Montreal-based Coalition pour la promotion des professions en assurance de dommages. “Soft skills remain at the core of employers’ expectations.”
For brokers, four main soft skills include a sense of customer service, sales skills, analytical skills, and planning and organization skills, says Roxanne Hébert, communications and operations director with the coalition. Why? “Because for the property and casualty insurance broker, client relationships are at the heart of the change in the profession,” she says.
Communicating with clients is crticial. Fardy reports that close to half of the errors and omissions claims he sees involve a simple failure to procure coverage. “Brokers often ask me, ‘How do I find out this stuff?’” Fardy says. “I tell them, ‘Number 1, Google. Number 2, go to your company.’”
Number 3 would be to find an experienced broker in the office to ask him or her a quick question about coverage. “Brokerage owners should encourage mentoring within the office,” Fardy says.