Looking back over 30 years of insurance broking

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As FPM celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2018 (that’s Pearl, in case you didn’t know), I thought it may be rather interesting to look back at how the insurance industry – and broking in particular – has changed over the past three decades.

Back in 1988, I was a rookie in my third year in the industry and halfway to completing my Associateship of the Chartered Insurance Institute.

In the 80s, the development of computer-based policy administration systems was still in its infancy, particularly in the broking environment. Most brokers kept their client records on hand-written cards filed in alphabetical order. Accounting to insurance companies for premiums collected was a manual operation where pages and pages of accounts were hand-written and balanced using calculators with tally rolls. Our short messaging service was called a telex machine that spewed out yards of yellow ticker tape.

Putting a deal together for a client usually meant knowing when to talk to the underwriter. One often got a better deal if you negotiated with the underwriter after he had enjoyed a beverage or three with a lunch that had been paid for by the broker.

Meeting colleagues usually happened at the Hollard Arms, a pub on the ground floor of the S. A. Eagle Insurance offices or at the Elizabeth Hotel or the Guild Hall, both close to Mutual & Federal’s offices.

The introduction of VAT on insurance premiums was a major upheaval for brokers who found themselves suddenly paying away a sizeable chunk of their revenue to SARS. This sparked the tech journey to greater efficiencies.

Brokers’ lives have over the last two decades been influenced by regulation, more regulation and changes to changes to regulation – all in the best interest of policyholders. One cannot deny that back in the 90s, the industry was definitely in need of a serious clean-up!

Fast forward to the present. The 4th industrial revolution is dawning and we are in the age of high-tech, big data and robo-advice. Networking happens on Linkedin rather than at the local pub. Premiums are determined by rating engines and drones are about to start watching over our business back yards.

One thing has remained constant, however. As a broker I have always been there to provide sound advice to my clients. It’s what I did 30 years ago and it is what we at FPM still do today.

Rodney Caruana

Managing Director

FPM Short Term Insurance Brokers (Pty) Ltd

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted. (E&OE)