Runacres Insurance broker and young mum proves you can do it all

Runacres Insurance, Christchurch broker Alarice Whale was recently interviewed by Insurance Business on how she juggles full-time motherhood and full-time broking. As published in Insurance Business 18 April 2018

Alarice is used to juggling multiple tasks. Not only is she a mother to three under three, but she provides broking support at Runacres for the firm’s seniors while studying for a diploma in insurance broking. Her goal is to take on her own book in the near future.

“Working a job full-time with a baby and two toddlers is not for the faint of heart but it’s definitely not impossible either,” Whale says.

What the best part of the job?
There’s a lot to love about the job but my top two parts would be the lasting relationships you build with your clients and others in the insurance community, and the never ending opportunities to learn. With the insurance industry constantly evolving it’s not the place to rest on your laurels so for someone like me, who likes to keep busy, it’s a perfect match!

What challenges you?
The most challenging part of the job, or rather time of the year, is the mammoth month of March. The financial year-end brings with it a rush of meetings, phone calls and paperwork. There’s definitely an air of excitement in the office on that final day of March when you know the madness is almost over for another year.

If you could change one thing about the industry – what would it be?
Portrayal of brokers as purely sales people. While there may be the odd broker out there selling on price alone, the vast majority of brokers are looking at the bigger picture. Brokers are risk managers and advisers first and foremost and can be an invaluable asset to a business. Securing competitive premiums is just one of the strings to the bow.

Do you feel prepared for the financial law regime changes?
Almost! I’ve done some reading and will also be attending the IBANZ webinar in May, which will explain all the regulatory changes including the additional duties the regulation involves and what disclosure, licensing and professional development requirements will look like moving forward.

Do you think the FMA has done enough to prepare advisers for these changes?
The changes have been talked about for some time now and information is readily available. I feel the FMA have played their part and it’s up to us now to get informed and take the appropriate action. Part of your role as an adviser is to ensure you keep yourself abreast of what’s happening in the industry, particularly in relation to the laws and regulations.

Do you think there is a diversity issue in the industry?
I’m aware diversity and inclusion are areas that need to be worked on in every industry and insurance is no exception to that. However, my personal experience in the industry has been very positive. I’ve had the pleasure of working with people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures and with strong female role models such as NZbrokers chief executive Jo Mason.

Insurance is seen as a grudge purchase. How do you change this perception for your clients, how do you educate them on the need for insurance?
I think it helps to put the cost into perspective by sharing claims stories with clients. Skipping insurance protection is a false economy when you stand to lose something that you can’t afford to replace. An insurance bill pales in comparison to the costs you would face if you had to defend a legal liability claim or the cost to refurnish your entire home after a flood.

Do you think advisers will still be relevant in five years?
Even more so than they are now. There are new risks constantly emerging. Risks like cyberattacks, terrorism, and last but by no means least, climate change. An adviser can provide relevant, expert guidance and help clients navigate the increasingly murky waters of risk management.

What do you think is the number one threat to the industry?
Insurance and reinsurance are an integral part of the global economy, so I don’t see a threat to the industry as such but there are changes coming that will reshape the insurance landscape as we know it. I think robo-advice (personalised digital advice) will bring about the biggest change.