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6 April 2021

Mentoring brokers of the future

When Ethan, Jake and Max joined Crombie Lockwood as broker recruits last year, they'd only been in their roles a few week before the Covid-19 lockdown was announced. They describe what it was like starting out in the industry at such a challenging time, and the benefits of having experienced mentors to guide and support them.   

2020 will always be particularly memorable for Crombie Lockwood Canterbury brokers, Ethan Gerrard, Jake Ngaata and Max Westropp. Part of an intake of five new insurance brokers to the busy Christchurch office , Ethan, Jake and Max only had the benefit of mere weeks to settle into their new roles before the national lockdown was announced in March.

 The Level 1 lockdown scenario’s immediate requirement that corporate offices be swapped for kitchen tables, added a steeper gradient to the learning curve for the recent recruits.

Left to right: Jake Ngata, Ethan Gerrard and Max Westrop

Left to right: Jake Ngaata, Ethan Gerrard and Max Westropp.

Thankfully for Ethan, Jake, and Max, during and in the wake of the lockdown, they were all able to draw upon the experience and advice of Crombie Lockwood Executive Broker, Murray Taylor.

“As an Executive Broker, Murray is always incredibly busy. But he will also always drop whatever it is he’s doing to give us advice on policy or listen to a particular client scenario we have in front of us,” says Ethan.

“He has 40 years’ experience and has dealt with all sorts of clients in all sorts of industries. Having Murray in the office – or on email or the other end of the phone during lockdown – has been great for us. There is a lot to learn in insurance broking and he always gets us to think about certain situations from a different angle or explore a different solution.”

Max says he had a situation recently where a client with a transportable Portacom building on one property wanted to move it to another section. Initially Max believed a new policy, or extension on the existing policy, would need to be written to cover the move.

 “This was the first time I had come across this situation, so I sounded Murray out on what would be required. He told me that if I spoke with the underwriter and could confirm the new location and that the Portacom would be on-site at the new location for 12 months or more, generally speaking the insurer will place the building in its new environment on the existing policy at no charge.

 “I wouldn’t have known that without investigating further. It’s thanks to senior mentors within the business such as Murray that we can double-check details and get a better result for our clients.”

While the Covid-19 lockdown presented a significant and wholly unique challenge for everyone within the business, Jake says that Murray’s advice around establishing an open, honest rapport with clients came to the fore in a situation where remote reassurance and an empathetic ear were underlined as valued tools of the broking trade.

“There are different skills that we need to adopt in our everyday working life; policy content and structure is obviously the foundation upon which everything else sits. But in many respects the harder aspect of the role to learn quickly, is managing relationships,” he says.

“That’s where experience comes in, because you have senior brokers here who might have worked in the industry for decades in some cases, and they often have clients who have been with them for a lot of that time. You realise pretty quickly that you don’t get to have that solid client base without working hard to understand what your clients need and what will work best for them.

 “Over time you get to know your client and it becomes more of a partnership. But before you get to that stage you have to become really good at managing relationships in the first place.”

Ethan says that the advice Murray has been able to impart to him and his colleagues has been gratefully received, especially when it comes to the many nuances of working alongside underwriters and insurers that wouldn’t necessarily be immediately apparent to newer recruits.

Executive Broker Murray Taylor holding a celebratory shield from the appreciative young brokers he mentors

Executive Broker Murray Taylor holding a celebratory shield from the appreciative young brokers he mentors.

The three brokers have been so impressed by the assistance Murray has been able to give them over the last six months.

“Murray has taken me and fellow members of my team under his wing. He jumps at any opportunity to help or impart some of his knowledge to us,” wrote Ethan as part of the team’s initial award submission.

“Beyond their immediate team in the Christchurch office, the three brokers have also been impressed by just how many other learning resources are available to them and their peers across the wider Crombie Lockwood network.

“There are so many opportunities to upskill for us, whether it be through webinars, training modules or gaining insights into further technical detail on aspects of policy from management,” says Max.

“All three of us have different strengths and different fields of interest within insurance: I’m interested in body corporates and have developed some commercial client relationships this year, for example.

“But regardless of where the next few years take us, as brokers with a common customer focus, the help and knowledge that Murray Taylor and the senior Crombie Lockwood broking team have been able to give us has been absolutely invaluable.”

"You realise pretty quickly that you don't get to have that solid client base, without working hard to understand what your clients need and what will work best for them." Jake Ngaata

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