Canadian Underwriter

Executive Outlook 2022: Kenny Nicholls, Western Financial Group

January 4, 2022   by Canadian Underwriter Staff

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Kenny Nicholls, President and CEO, Western Financial Group

We see a real need for Canada to adopt a more harmonized broker licensing structure across the country. That structure would better enable brokers to work from anywhere in Canada and service customers wherever they are. It’s not a simple task, but it’s something that needs to be looked at.

Our industry would really benefit from becoming more united. I’m talking about all three major stakeholders: carriers, brokers and regulators. There’s been progress but there is still more we can do. Where we are working in isolation, it directly impacts our shared customers’ experience. While technology allows our people to work safely from home, brokers face restrictions and limitations imposed by our regulatory guidelines, especially regarding supervisory, depending on their levels of licensing. I do believe it’s time for regulators to review and issue updated and evolved regulations.

Another hot topic at Western is our omnichannel strategy, allowing our customers to choose how they do business with us. Brokerages that hope to survive with just one access channel to their customers — whether phone, online or a physical branch — are going to struggle.

There is also lots of talk about the ‘Great Resignation.’ Obviously, it’s creating huge talent gaps, not just in insurance but across all Canadian industries. Keeping our branches fully staffed is going to be a real focus for us in 2022. We need to attract more people into our world and show them that insurance really can be exciting, challenging and rewarding.

We’re looking at increasing our talent pool in various ways, one of which is investing in learning and development. People don’t want to just work for an organization, they want to continue growing. As much as we obsess on exceeding our customers’ expectations, we need to put that same level of focus on our people.

See all the 2022 Outlooks here.