GSK Insurance Brokers is celebrating our very own Jeff Booth, recently announced as the winner of the National Insurance Brokers Association’s (NIBA) Broker of the Year Award for Western Australia.
This award is given to a broker who is viewed as an inspirational role model to the broking community, and has showcased excellence throughout their career. We are absolutely over the moon for Jeff, and are incredibly proud of everything he has achieved in his career so far.
We sat down with Jeff to chat about his award, what drives him to strive for excellence in the insurance industry, and what goals he’s aiming for next.
As WA’s Broker of the Year, Jeff goes on to compete nationally amongst the best of the best – which is pretty impressive considering he has already won in WA with such an abundance of talented brokers across the state.
“It’s a fantastic feeling… I’m feeling very proud and honoured to be recognised by the industry, especially in the current broking environment.”
Brokers are facing new challenges
The current broking landscape is definitely a challenging one, and can be tricky to navigate. Jeff says one of the biggest challenges is that insurers’ appetite is reduced, meaning less insurance options available. At the same time, though, the insurers that are still around are pushing their premiums up.
“It’s become a real challenge to find solutions for clients. When there are less options for them, getting something that’s at a reasonable premium in some areas is tricky.”
His method for navigating these challenges is by starting everything earlier, and negotiating harder for his clients. More time is needed to allow for any surprises that might pop up – and they definitely do pop up.
It’s the client relationships that drive him forward
Despite the challenges, though, Jeff continues to do absolutely everything he can for his clients, and says that building a great relationship with them is the most important part of the job.
“Your role as a broker is to give professional advice to your clients. So if you’re going to do your job well, you’ve got to be listening to them, understanding their business, and communicating with them effectively.”
Sometimes, communicating effectively is actually one of the greatest challenges of the role – but most rewarding when done right.
“The advice you give them needs to be something they can understand. Some of this is not their area of expertise, so we’ve got to explain things to them and give them advice in a way that makes sense to them, so that they can then go on and make informed decisions.”
Fostering great relationships with clients is, in Jeff’s opinion, what makes a good broker.
“You’ve got to put yourself in their shoes a bit. Every business is different, so you need to be talking in a language they understand – something relative to their business. There’s no point talking about a risk relating to someone with hundreds of employees when they’ve only got five. You need to do your research and tailor your discussion to their business.”
There’s never a dull moment as an insurance broker
Jeff says working with such a wide range of clients makes things challenging, but always interesting. Working as a broker means there’s never a dull moment, which is what drew Jeff to the role. After working for a major insurance company and becoming a state manager, he was on the hunt for a new challenge.
“I thought that broking would give me the challenge I was after. As an insurer, you don’t tend to see the end customer often – but when I had, I’d always enjoyed that experience most. So the opportunity to work in different industries and with different clients, was what drove me to become a broker.”
Ultimately, it’s the human element of being an insurance broker that continues to drive Jeff forward. “The work that I do is always fascinating, because we’re constantly working with different businesses and industries, and a lot of these businesses have been built from scratch. They’re passionate about what they do, and it’s great spending time with passionate people. It keeps things exciting.”
Jeff says it’s also incredibly rewarding to know that the advice he gives is protecting these businesses. “You get a real buzz when they start to recognise the value in what you’re doing. You’re the guy that they trust. So it’s a nice feeling when you get to that level of relationship. It takes a little bit of work, but it’s always worth it.”
Maintaining a work/life balance
That being said, Jeff says a work/life balance is important. When he’s not spending time with his family and chauffeuring his teenage daughters around (what are dad’s for?), he enjoys seeing his friends and exercising.
“I swim a lot, usually open water swimming, either in the river or the ocean. I’ve got a group of mates that I swim with regularly, all year round. Making plans with people gives you that discipline to leave work on time, and helps keep a balance.”
Appreciating the support of a good team
In winning NIBA’s WA Broker Awards 2021, Jeff says he’s thankful for GSK and is grateful to be able to represent them as a broker.
“A lot of people I’ve worked with have influenced me over the years, whether that be mentors or managers or colleagues – far too many to mention. But I have to particularly name those I work with now, especially my team, Lynn and Casey that I work directly with, our claims team, and Graham, of course, for giving me the opportunity to work here and the support he’s given me over the years.”
What advice does Jeff have for those just venturing out into the insurance broking industry?
His first tip – work hard. “You’ve got to put the hard yards in to learn and build up your knowledge.”
However, he also says that you shouldn’t be afraid of not immediately knowing the answer to a question.
“There’s nothing wrong with telling someone that you don’t know the answer to their question but that you’ll go away and find out, whether that’s reading up on it more or talking to colleagues. Don’t be afraid to put your hand up and say that you’re not sure about something.”
Even now, with years of experience under his belt, Jeff still has times when he needs to go away and do more research. And it’s far better to do your research than give incorrect information to a client.
“Clients are always more than happy to wait for the right information. Sometimes we do things that are quite technical, and you don’t want to guess the answer. And nobody is an expert at the start – it’s always better to be sure.”
What does Jeff have in store for the future?
“The great thing about insurance broking is that things are always changing, and there’s always so much to learn. Even after all these years, I’m still learning. And there are always new risks emerging, like in cyber security or with COVID. Especially with continuously developing technology – there are always new risks and new challenges, and it’s exciting to manage that on a day by day level.”
Looking at the bigger picture, Jeff says he wants to continue working with his clients and growing his client portfolio.
“I also want to continue helping GSK grow and become the best company we can be, whether that’s being involved with clients or marketing or any other element of the business, as a team.”
It’s the teamwork element that Jeff loves about working for GSK Insurance Brokers. It’s one thing to enjoy working with clients, but another to love coming into the office and working alongside an amazing team.
“There are great people here and the environment is fantastic. I’ve got a team that works closely with me who do a great job, and keep me on track (and sane!). When you’re spending so much of your week in the office, you need good people around that you enjoy working with – and that’s one of the great things about GSK.”
Here at GSK Insurance Brokers, we couldn’t be more proud of Jeff and all of his accomplishments so far. It’s only onwards and upwards from here!
If you’re in need of some insurance advice or would like help finding the best insurance for your business, get into contact with us at GSK Insurance Brokers Perth today and we can get you started!