Meet a broker: Alana Brown
Alana Brown is an insurance broker based in Darwin. She has been in the insurance industry since 2012, servicing clients remotely from all over Australia. Alana won NT Young Insurance Professional of the year in 2017 and was a finalist for Insurance Business Awards Young Gun category in Australia in 2018. She specialises in small to medium business and commercial strata. Advisr spoke to Alana about her experience as a successful young insurance broker, her tips for brokers starting out, and where she sees the industry going.
How do you see the insurance industry changing?
Being in the forefront of the 'online' world is essential e.g. utilising more online communication methods such as email, social media, and chat utilities through websites to provide ease of access to information. The advantage of these communication methods is that they often suit the client as they can contact a business in their own time rather than having to work between the usual business hour parameters. Brokers have to be readily available and often need to work outside the usual business hours. I work remotely and my working hours are often extended to provide additional service to clients needs.
What do you do differently that makes you stand out as a young insurance broker?
My Broking apprenticeship commenced in an office which was predominantly managed by 'traditional' brokers so I was able to learn from their extensive experience very quickly. I am constantly searching for ways to improve my knowledge and I am very committed to servicing my clients in a professional manner. I am a very quick learner and open to any feedback which might not be as readily accepted by others.
What do you see as the most important qualities of a great insurance broker?
- Service - Definitely, a pleasant person with the right attitude can change the whole outcome of a conversation and the client's respect for you.
- Keeping up with the constant changes of technology and products in the market is very important and we always need to be one step ahead of our competitors.
- Knowledge of the product is essential, not only when selling but most importantly when a claim is lodged. An insurance product is usually only tested when a claim has arisen and this is when brokers are often tested also.
How important is an online presence for brokers? And do you have any tips for getting quality leads online?
It is imperative for brokers to have some sort of profile online if they are wanting to progress and be up with the market leaders. Potential employers, colleagues and clients will all use some form of social media to research companies before even approaching anyone. LinkedIn is a major platform for professional people, and you can create the best profile of yourself. And of course Advisr is a insurance-specific professional platform, getting thousands of hits from potential clients researching insurance every week. These channels allow you to connect both with people within your industry as well as your clients and in doing so you can attract the attention of other business'. In terms of obtaining quality online leads, it is important to make your readers and 'potential' clients aware of exactly what market you are trying to attract, and where your specialities lie. People will often be more inclined to obtain quotes and place business with you if you specialise' in that area. This will improve and help you obtain quality online leads. You may find people are price driven and are just trying to see if you can provide them with a better deal. Education is key here - helping them to understand that insurance is complex and a tailored insurance package is better than a one-size-fits all which may leave them under-insured. An active Facebook page is also a huge help to keep clients and readers interested, you just have to pick your content wisely and try not to bore people with insurance jargon. Ideally we try to have a 'funny Friday' to keep it light.
Is there a difference in how the 'young guns' work compared with the 'old guard'?
There is definitely a difference in how the two work, it is trying to get them to work collectively that can sometimes be the trick! Having worked with mostly older style brokers initially to now having a much younger influence in our office it has been good to take on board both aspects of the broking world. I also enjoy helping the older generation with their technical woes and making their lives easier. In my personal opinion (being part of the younger generation helps) modern technology is definitely a huge help in our industry and makes work loads and turnaround times a lot quicker. I have found that the 'old guard' prefer their day books and paper filing, to using system notes that can be easily stored and found again. In time they will be entirely on board and change is not always a bad thing.
What advice would you give to young brokers starting out in the industry?
- Soak it all up, take in as much advice as you can and stay humble.
- Build good relationships and create a good image for yourself, easily done online now but can be ruined just as quickly.
- Find a good mentor, preferably outside of your current workplace that you can learn and grow from with a different perspective.