When Frank Risk Management bagged the 2016 ANZIIF New Zealand Small-Medium Broking Company of the Year, the feedback its director Rene Swindley received was exceptional, and he says he's confident the award has increased client retention.
Swindley first became interested in insurance while studying insurance law at university.
After graduating and working for one of the bigger broking houses, Swindley and Frank Risk's other founding director, Andrew Newman, came to the realisation that there was a better way to do insurance.
'We were so confident the transparent approach would work that we resigned, pushed ahead with the new venture and never looked back,' Swindley says. 'To take risks like these I figure you have to have a certain amount of blind optimism.'
Frank Risk was founded in 2008, with a vision to disrupt the traditional approach to insurance.
With no client base, Andrew Newman and Rene Swindley left the comfort of well-paying jobs at a corporate broker to start trading as Hutchison Rodway (Waikato) Ltd.
In 2014 they changed their name to Frank Risk Management Ltd, which perfectly described them and their approach to business — frank, upfront, and transparent.
‘Frank Risk was built on the belief that clients deserve complete openness when dealing with us. They can see exactly what we do and assess this against the fees charged,’ Swindley says.
‘We take the time to gain an understanding of our clients and build a risk management program that is best suited to them and their goals.’
The secret sauce
Swindley says clients are encouraged to look at risk management in a broader context, and to consider other factors such as business continuity planning.
‘It's good business sense,’ he says.
‘Insurance claims are an area where we set a higher standard in the industry — we've had claims paid when a previous broker thought all was lost.
‘Looking at things from a client’s point of view and having as much policy knowledge as the insurer makes the difference. We have a reputation with insurers for fighting hard on behalf of our clients. No compromising.’
Having said all this, Swindley is coy about the culture of his business and what makes it special.
‘Now that would be giving away the secret recipe,’ he quips.
‘But I can say our business culture is about always doing right by our client, and if you ask any of the Frank team it’s not about simply putting the hours in.
‘If you are in a good place with your work or have had a good win, head home for the day.
‘Our primary proposition is our transparency, and this is something the rest of the industry continues to struggle with.’
Smaller is agile
He adds the key elements of being a successful small–medium broker come down to being responsive.
‘It’s a major advantage over the slower moving, procedural-driven bigger guys,’ he says.
Asked what made him apply for an ANZIIF Award, Swindley says he felt Frank Risk had done pretty well as a broking house.
‘But as we tend to keep to ourselves it seemed appropriate to put it to the test and see what the industry thought,’ he says.
‘We were motivated by the idea of getting more profile through the awards and by the associated potential of attracting the best people to join our team.
‘We hoped an award, as well as the process, would help with the marketing piece.’
Application process brought benefits
He says the application process in itself provided Frank Risk with some great metrics on the business and helped the team think about and assess its strengths and weaknesses.
Most importantly, Swindley wanted to communicate the nature of the company’s transparency and client advocacy to the judges.
‘Those are the two aspects that make us what we are and have been the primary contributors to our growth.
‘It was important for us to explain to the judges how we utilise this approach in our business.’
A personal joy, and great for business
Swindley says winning felt a real privilege.
‘My first thought was how pleased the Frank team would be to get this recognition, and how much they deserve it,’ he says.
In terms of business, he adds the award has most definitely assisted in getting a few new accounts across the line.
‘It’s an additional and important arrow to our quiver and we have enjoyed discussing this with existing and prospective clients,’ he says.