By Anna Game-Lopata — ANZIIF Writer | 7 Feb 2018
Matt Coles was first introduced to the insurance industry as a law student.
‘Hearing about the career path of the highly skilled and admired lecturer who specialised for decades in the insurance field both in the UK and NZ, I became deeply fascinated in the legal framework, shortcomings and challenges we face across the industry,’ Coles says.
Upon graduating with an LLB, Coles was admitted as a barrister and solicitor and decided to gain experience in different areas of the industry, from policy implementation to strategic handling of claims.
PATH LEADS TO BROKING
This ultimately led him into broking, and he is now employed by O’Connor Warren Insurance Brokers, a specialist transport-centric broking operation. The company took a punt on him, and, after just a year of his employment, aims to support his nomination for a broking award in New Zealand.
Director Eamon O’Connor has also implemented an internship policy to formalise the employment of more bright young students out of high school.
While Coles is still learning the ropes, the business touts him as one of the most promising brokers in the space.
Coles has set his sights on understanding all areas of the operation, which has its primary interests in transport, international marine and complex liability.
‘I’m keen to ensure that I’m accountable in as many areas as possible, and I hope to add risk in life and health insurance to my areas of expertise,’ he says.
‘I would like to work with industry leaders [and] claim response specialists, and handle complex claims. It will be very satisfying to manage intricate risk accounts and find solutions no matter what the issue is that I am faced with.
‘Working alongside a highly specialised team, with strong ethics and a strict need to provide the service and detail that has often been eroded in this day and age, is a very rewarding career path.’
TAILORED FOR THE NEW ZEALAND MARKET
Coles says one of the challenges that the insurance industry faces in both Australia and New Zealand is the lack of young professionals entering its ranks.
He argues this stems from a lack of understanding of the industry as a whole.
‘Having completed my Diploma in Insurance Broking, I discussed this challenge with ANZIIF, along with the need for programs tailored to the NZ market.’
‘From there I was offered the wonderful opportunity to become an SME for ANZIIF and to assist in developing the New Zealand version of the Diploma of Insurance Broking.’
HELPING IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE
Coles views his role as an SME as a path to providing insight and knowledge to brokers, especially to those who aren’t clear about the opportunities that exist in the industry.
‘I wish to take this further by helping in every way possible to bring the right minds with the right attitudes into the industry, to create a better future and greater understanding into our respective roles.’
Coles adds that he definitely enjoys the role of SME.
‘It not only adds great value to my education and development, but also specifically focuses on the issues that we as an industry need to address,’ he says.
‘It’s rewarding to lead students to consider the detail and adaptability they need to adopt and to have skills that provide insight into ways of thinking that will benefit others in business and ultimately benefit their clients.’
ON TOP OF CHANGE
Like many, Coles sees the risks created by technology growth as a major concern given that the industry seems slow to adapt.
‘Legislative changes surrounding technology typically come in after the advancement or innovation, and this is also the case for insurers trying to gain an understanding of the risks associated with technology and how to establish a policy response,’ he observes.
‘This is indeed a relatively untested environment with no real claims data to support it, which makes stepping forward into the arena much more difficult.’ To illustrate his point, Coles points to the growing cyber liability space.
‘We’re witnessing a risk that’s rapidly expanding, as is the client’s understanding of this risk and ultimately the claims response,’ he says. ‘Brokers and insurers alike need to be conscious of their exposure in this area. Education and an ongoing drive to be aware and on top of change is essential.’
HARD REALITY OF DISASTERS
In New Zealand, Coles says the insurance industry is also facing a hard reality in terms of losses due to natural disaster, especially in relation to heavy vehicle losses.
‘This is causing an issue where clients need to be educated and understand the reasons [for] rising premiums within the market,’ he explains.
‘But it is the role of brokers and insurers not to tarnish every client with the same brush and to negotiate with an understanding of the differing needs by finding adaptable solutions and responses.’
LATEST SKILLS UNIT
Hot off the press, the ANZIIF Skills Unit that Coles worked on, Establish broking client loss control programs, is the latest for the New Zealand market.
It’s intended to teach students to understand the wide-ranging impacts of claims, including how brokers, their client’s business and profitability can be affected.
‘Being fully across the claims response and how claim losses are handled as they arise is essential to the underwriting of an insurance program,’ Coles says of the new Skills Unit.
‘But it’s also critical to understand how claim losses might affect the client in the future, and to be able to educate your clients to minimise claim losses and reduce their risk using proper management strategies.’
‘By looking at how a broker can analyse claim loss data, find strategies to improve a client’s risk and minimise claim losses, the student gains an understanding [of] the bigger picture.’
‘They also gain insight into how insurance roles interrelate, and how to build value and strength within the industry, by taking the perspective of the clients and the wider public.’
Above and beyond
Coles adds that it’s important for brokers and insurers to understand the challenges that each face in order to always have the clients’ best interests top of mind.
‘This latest Skills Unit offers the education and skills to go above and beyond simply providing solutions for a client’s needs when required,’ he says.
‘In unique situations, or where the student is unsure, they will gain a window on how to actively search for a solution.’
‘They’ll develop a general appreciation of governing legislations, and the ability to fight for the correct standards so as to further the industry voice and achieve the results we’re all striving for.’
CAN YOU BEAT MATT COLES?
Throughout the interactive component of Establish broking client loss control programs, Coles says he enjoyed sneaking in ‘shortcut’ options to trigger the wrong response from students.
‘The Unit then follows up with information about the negative impacts on both the broker and client of taking shortcuts, or failing to focus on details from an exposure perspective,’ he says.
Think you’ve got what it takes to spot the shortcuts?
Establish broking client loss control programs will be live this February.