COVER’s Tony van Niekerk was lucky enough to chat to Matthew van den Heuvel, joint group CEO of, the winner of the iToo independant Expert Brokerage of the Year award, Econorisk. Matthew spoke to us about their win and how his view of what an expert brokerage is.
Listen to the interview below:
If you would prefer, you can read the transcription of the interview below:
Tony van Niekerk 0:13
Hi, this is Tony from COVER magazine. I’m speaking to Matthew van den Heuvel from Econorisk. Econorisk was the expert brokerage of the year, independent at the latest iTOO broker awards. Matthew, congratulations, first of all and thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me.
Thanks, Tony. It was great for our business to receive the accolade from iTOO and we are very proud to have won the award in 2020.
Tony van Niekerk 0:39
It’s great, you know, for our sort of business, especially after a year like 2020. It’s great to be acknowledged for what you’ve done and what you’ve achieved. Then also for me, in today’s environment, expert brokerages are really appropriate, because specialist insurance, advice, the business environment, it’s become very complicated. So maybe if you could just describe to us, how would you see an expert brokerage?
Tony for me an expert brokerage is, I suppose, fundamentally is understanding the environment that one operates in. What I mean by that, is at the core of it is understanding what a client’s needs are. Off the back of a client’s risk exposures, is then identifying where they have exposures that we can place the appropriate insurance policy to, to cover those risks. So to my mind, an expert brokerage really is having the appropriate products to give to our clients. Clearly price is important to them as well, but being an expert is having access to markets, we’re very fortunate, as Econorisk, to have access to the leading insurance and underwriting managers in South Africa, as well as having access to global insurers via the London market and other sort of international agencies that we’ve set up. So we truly believe that we have the appropriate choice for our clients to give them the right products to meet their needs. I think that’s really the most fundamental element, making sure that we have the right products which matches their bespoke needs.
Tony van Niekerk 2:30
So if you look at this description that you’ve given now, how did you get yourself into a position? And what do you think made you the broker of the year in this category?
I think we were very engaged with iTOO during the year. And I think iTOO were very innovative this year in the way that they had the iTOO days, every Tuesday from the beginning of lockdown, they’ve had various training and update sessions with our staff, which I think was very innovative. They did it every week, they kept it interactive. They were also very mindful of, you know, during the tough times during lockdown, they included some fun elements. They had a few Friday fun days, where it wasn’t necessarily insurance, but they had a bit of a lighter sort of engagement with us as brokers who are their clients. I was very impressed with our staff who were very engaged through those sessions. Those sessions also assisted us, there were certain sessions where our staff were able to get their CPD points. So I think it was our engagement with iTOO and I also think it’s the way we interact with iTOO and our clients. So we to a large degree, with a lot of our clients who have specialist coverage needs, we will engage with iTOO, and at times actually take iTOO with us to see our clients to discuss some of the very detailed technical products that they sell. So I think it’s our engagement and I think our two businesses work very well together. We are very engaged with the management team, with Rob, who calls on us, I counselled him with the leadership team and Justin and the likes. So I think it was just engagement and taking part.
Tony van Niekerk 4:24
The environment as we spoke and as you said as well, has become very technical. And the advice that is needed isn’t just what it used to be even 10 years ago. Where do you find the skills and how do you develop the skills within your businesses and what sort of processes have you got to ensure that those skills are updated all the time?
I think one of the biggest elements that we focus very hard on is hiring right, so the caliber of staff that join our organization is to ensure that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to enter organization. That being said, you know, our environment is changing a lot and we are constantly updating and having training with our staff. So we are very fortunate that because of our relationship with our insurers that we engage with, a lot of them provide a lot of the training and the technical elements that we need to sell their products. So it’s product specific, it’s also class specific and we also have our own training programs. We have started now where once a week, we have our own internal staff training where one of our experts within the business, take our sales underwriting claims and general staff through training, which is provided by us to our staff, which is relevant, we can talk about case studies. And we’re very fortunate that we’ve got a wide mix of staff that work across our organization. So we can have some very senior people that can partake in that training and share their knowledge where a lot of the newer staff or ones that don’t have access to exposure to certain products can then learn. There’s nothing better than learning with our team and from real life case studies. So we started that program during this year and it’s gone down very well. And it’s something that we do once a week, to the extent that it’s possible. We are at the moment going through a lot of training, but it’s typically once a week. And then we very fortunate that our insurers engage with us and provide training on their products or classes where it is a bit more general, and we actively participated and engage with that across the business. And as you know, in our environment, there is a requirement from the phase and from the insurance act that we are expected to have CPD, which I think is very important to our industry and it’s something that we monitor, and we are very close to in ensuring that all of our staff achieve and exceed the minimum requirements as stipulated.
Tony van Niekerk 6:57
Brilliant Matthew, thank you and congratulations once again on winning that award. And then wishing you all the best for 2021, wishing it will go well with you because then we know that the environment is much better. And then lastly, wishing you a good break in December. Most people need a good break this year, so I hope you enjoy that.
Thanks very much Tony. All South Africans really need a well deserved break and to anybody listening, I wish them a rested and safe December and let’s hope a solid 2021 ahead of us. Thanks for your time.
Tony van Niekerk 7:44