Dean Bowen on the role of brokers, reaching into your network, and being crowned NIBA’s NSW/ACT Young Broker of the Year
In late 2016, Dean Bowen was at a crossroads.
“I was in my late 20s and I thought to myself ‘what do I want to do? Do I stay at CGU? Do I stay on the underwriting side and climb the corporate ladder? Or do I want to create something of my own in the form of AR Broking?”
Over five years later, standing on the stage as NIBA’s Young Broker of the Year, Dean reflected on that moment and realised he made the right decision.
“It’s incredibly humbling and special to win this award when you consider the calibre of brokers who have walked this path before me as previous winners for the State of NSW – Many of whom I know and have immense respect for personally and professionally,” says Dean. “I’m certainly going to remember this for the rest of my career – it was a very special day.”
What it takes to be a modern broker
Running a brokerage in today’s environment can be challenging and modern brokers need to be proactive and efficient to keep up with demand.
“Your role is not to just to go and find the cheapest policy, sell it to them, tick that box, issue a certificate of currency and say talk to you 12 months’ time – it doesn’t work like that,” says Dean.
The key role of a modern broker, he says, is to properly educate clients about risk.
“And I mean all risk. Some risks are greater than others, but we talk to our clients about everything,” says Dean. “That means talking about Management Liability and Cyber no matter how big or small the risk is.”
The process for Dean and his team of seven at DLB Insurance & Risk Solutions is to talk to their clients about products that may affect them, what they cover, claims examples, and why they should be considered.
“At the end of the day, the client will choose what they feel is best for them and they will make decisions around what risks they need to insure and what risks they’re willing to retain themselves inside their business,” he says.
“But your job is to make them aware of those risks and offer them a solution to transfer that risk to an insurance policy.”
Achieving efficiency through technology
Once considered a digital laggard, the insurance industry has been familiarising itself with the benefits of digital technology for a while now.
McKinsey’s report Insurance 2030 – The impact of AI on the future of insurance shows that the adoption of technologies such as AI, machine learning, and automation are already achieving great efficiency for insurers and end-customers.
Brokers too are embracing these technologies to combat the problems that a hard market brings and are ready to optimise their brokerage, often through the use of Insurtechs.
Dean says there are a couple of technologies that have helped DLB achieve new levels of efficiency particularly around compliance as the focus is on intermediaries now “more than ever”.
“The system that we’re using in Officetech are excellent in terms of recording contemporaneous notes, recording client conversations, client interactions, underwriter interactions and just encompassing everything that makes up that file,” he says.
“Secondly, BizCover for Brokers is another great solution we use as it allows you to assess the market and obtain multiple quotes all on one platform. This obviously saves you time and the documentation it generates is always really compliant.”
Reaching into your network
No matter who you are, the people in your life both socially and professionally will help shape your life. This is why building a healthy support system within your inner circle is crucial for your career journey – especially, says Dean, when you’re looking to start a brokerage.
“Much of my family are in small business,” says Dean. “Whether it was my late father who was an accountant or my brother who’s a roofer, I saw them working hard and creating something for themselves and it was so tempting to do the same.”
Dean’s lightbulb moment came when he identified a gap in the market for a local brokerage in his hometown of Cronulla, south of Sydney.
“I realised that I could provide great value with local businesses near my area. A lot of construction was being done at the time and many were without the benefits of a local broker,” he says.
“Now my clients have someone that not only can be there for a face-to-face meeting but intimately knows the area as well as they do.”
The other piece of advice Dean says is to align yourself with the right industry mentors that can assist you and help you with your journey
“I was very lucky that I was able to align myself with some really good mentors that were strong, technical wise, and some others who were strong business wise and were very experience and savvy when it came to running a business.”
“These little nuggets of advice not just about broking but about being in business and being a leader really helped me early on,” says Dean. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without them in my life.”
Final words for young brokers
With so much change in the industry, the path ahead for young brokers may seem unclear for those taking their first steps. After receiving so much mentorship throughout his short career, Dean wants to pay it back and help the next crop of young brokers excel.
“My number one mantra is that you need to do what you say you are going to do – sloppiness ruins relationships in this industry,” says Dean.
“If you tell them that you have that certificate of currency by close of business, make sure that you’ve got it. If you text them and say, I’m going to call you back – call them back. it’s just keeping your promise and doing what you’re saying.”
Another thing Dean says young brokers can do is to invest in technology that makes you more efficient.
“The use of tech has been crucial to speed up the process of admin work so we can get back to broking and focus on the advice.”
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