“Probably more than anything else, what I’m trying to do is identify where there’s an opportunity to partner with insurers to streamline the process for brokers,” he said.
Sloan said he sees brokers in the same light as other professionals, like doctors or accountants.
Read next: Legacy systems shouldn’t be an excuse for insurers
“The way the industry operates, we’ve got these highly paid, qualified experts doing a lot of unnecessary double entry and administration,” he said. “So what I’m trying to do is identify ways to streamline the process to make sure our experts are doing the job and being out there for the client versus doing double entry admin over and over again.”
Traditionally, many brokers regard themselves as quite different industry professionals to those working at big insurers. IB asked Sloan if the relationship between these two industry professions is more “matey” than it might appear to outside observers?
“It is probably more ‘matey’ with particular insurers, like those who are nimble and eager to work with us,” he said. “But there are still quite a few that are yet to get with the times and haven’t caught up yet – they can be tricky conversations.”
The legacy IT systems still used by some of Australia’s major insurance companies are a particular concern for Sloan.
“Legacy systems are a real bugbear of mine, I’m really not a fan,” he said. “I understand that a lot of insurers have spent millions of dollars developing these systems, but the hard part is eventually they become obsolete.”
Sloan said these old systems can make it challenging for customers to get insurance coverage and for brokers to arrange that coverage.
The Ausure broker said the role of his profession is definitely changing towards being more advice and less transaction focused.
“Yes absolutely,” said Sloan. “We take our obligations under the Code and give customers the best experience and advice very, very seriously.”
He said one challenge is calibrating the business between those clients who require more risk advice and those who don’t.
“There are small clients who don’t need a high level of advice and then there are others who need full site surveys, ISR policies, complex reviews every six months,” said Sloan. “It’s trying to get the balance between the high-risk clients and the clients that don’t need as much time.”
Read next: What would Heraclitus think of broker commissions?
“My personal opinion based on my own experience is that as a risk professional we get better client outcomes as a result of commissions and no-one in the industry should be afraid of the fees or commissions they make as a result of that,” said Steve Sloan
The government’s Quality of Advice Review is re-examining the issue of commissions across the financial services industry, including the commissions brokers receive from insurers.
Steve Sloan is a fan of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. The Ausure general manager‘s biography page has a quote from the philosopher: “The only constant in life is change.”
“It was to let the stakeholders know that everything that we have taken for granted today, may change tomorrow – and just to be ready for change,” he said.
Heraclitus’ words of wisdom inform Steve Sloan’s stance on commissions.
“You always have to have a pragmatic approach,” he said. “What I mean by that is the people who help the top end of town and help medium sized businesses, those businesses are used to pay their accountant a fee, they’re used to pay for those services.”
In contrast, he added, the other end of the market where entry level insurance products are the norm “it’s a bit more price sensitive and we’ve worked really hard to get that mix right,” he said.
The Quality of Advice Review is due to release a final report in December.
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