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Introducing the winner of Broker Apprentice 2014

At a glance

  • Daniel Kinlan wins Broker Apprentice, sponsored by Zurich to find the rising stars of the industry
  • Cyber risk and attracting young blood is crucial for the insurance industry
  • The lessons learnt from the experience will help him going forward in his career

After a gruelling series of interviews, Daniel Kinlan, a Client Support Technician at Aon, became one of six finalists to make it through to Broker Apprentice, the video series sponsored by Zurich, aimed to find the rising stars of the broking industry.

After a series of tasks that tested the finalists’ insurance knowledge and resourcefulness, Daniel was declared the winner. His prize was a VIP weekend away, a £2,000 development fund and mentoring from senior Zurich leaders. Zurich Insider sat down with him to discuss the whole experience.

Q: What went through your mind when you discovered you’d won Broker Apprentice?

A: I was absolutely delighted. I thought I had a good chance, having done well in all the tasks. However, I was naturally still quite surprised. I feel extremely proud as it reflects well, not only on myself, but on my employers at Aon.

Q: You got into insurance broking straight out of school. What attracted you to the industry?

Broker Voice gives UK brokers the opportunity to voice their opinion on the state of the insurance industry, outline what makes their own personal style of business different from their competitors, and what personal interests enhance their professional life.

A: The chance to work within such a massive business. I heard that there was a lot of opportunity and I thought the role would suit me. In doing my research, I found out that were a lot of opportunities within the industry that would take advantage of my outgoing personality.

Q: How did you find the whole process?

A: I thought it was brilliant and, for me, it was a massive learning curve. I discovered a lot, about myself and insurance, which is quite important, but overall it was just a great experience.

Q: What did you learn from the process that you weren’t aware of before?

A: One of the main things was how important asking about key information is to the entire broking process. For example, when we surveyed the property in one of the tasks, it highlighted the importance of asking the right questions. My team was just going around being overly cautious rather than asking the appropriate questions about specific risks the building faced. Understanding risk and asking the right questions – they’d be the two things I took away from the experience.

Q: And what did you learn most about yourself?

A: The whole experience really improved my self-confidence. Over the past two years in the industry, I’ve been surprised at how much this has grown. Not that I wasn’t confident before, but, in terms of presenting myself to customers, the experience has been essential.

Q: What was it like being grilled by Zurich PL Managing Director Tim Holliday?

A: Tim was brilliant about the whole experience. Knowing his position within Zurich and the industry, I was quite nervous, but it was a great experience to be questioned by someone like him who has so much knowledge.

Q: What are you hoping to learn from Tim Holliday?

A: I see everything from a broker perspective, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how things are on the other side of the fence – what insurers think of brokers and what their challenges are. Hopefully it’ll help me to find common ground. Also, he is extremely well known within the industry, so I’m really looking forward to learning from him.

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge for brokers these days?

A: There are a lot of challenges, but the one most relevant to the times (and my age) is social media. From a broker perspective, I think that it’s interesting how big organisations use social media to benefit customers and clients.

Q: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to get cover for?

A: I once had to check if I could get liability cover for an inflatable football pitch. This certainly opened my eyes to the many things that insurance can cover and what clients and brokers have to think about to ensure sufficient cover is always in place!

Q: Rugby or football? And the team you support?

A: Definitely football, and I support Rangers Football Club.

The way technology evolves, there will be a massive call for (cyber liabilty) in the market. In 10 years, you’ll see many more customers with (it) than you do now

Q: Newspaper or iPad?

A: Newspaper… but that’s only because I don’t have an iPad.

Q: What is your favourite word, and why?

A: Happy, because if all else fails you will still have a big smile on your face. If you smile, it conveys your happiness and if things go bad, you can just smile and conceal your disappointment. It helps you to hide all the small problems and focus on the big ones.

Q: Do you think there is enough new blood in the industry? What do you think brokers can do to attract and keep new talent?

A: I think there’s a bigger push on attracting new blood to the industry. Many companies are pushing for young people to join via apprenticeships, like I did, or straight out of university. I think at the moment only two universities offer risk management courses, so if we want to publicise insurance, that needs to change. I think there should be a much bigger push in schools, because when I was young, I wasn’t really aware of insurance, so I think it’s all about educating people about the attractiveness of the industry as early as possible, even if it’s just basic low-level knowledge, which can be built upon as they get older.

To watch all the episodes of Broker Apprentice, click here.

Image © Getty

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