Ben McKinnie QPIB
Snr Account Specialist II in the Aon Global Client Network, Chicago
What has been your career pathway in broking up to this point?
After graduating high school, I enlisted in the Royal Australian Army for a 12-month gap year program. Following completion I entered the Army Reserve and successfully applied for a traineeship with Aon.
While undertaking initial studies I was quickly captivated by the role of an insurance broker. Within six months I had completed my Certificate III of Financial Services and commenced Tier 1 studies. Within my first 12 months I was managing a small portfolio of commercial accounts.
During this time I became interested in working within Aon Risk Solutions’ Global business and approached the team and was offered an Account Broker position focusing on large multinational accounts within a “handpicked” team of talented brokers.
After three months within global, I was the client relationship manager for the world’s largest property management firm for the Asia-Pacific region.
Working in global provided me the opportunity to continue my NIBA studies and I completed my Advanced Diploma studies inside a year. Shortly after, I was promoted to Service Executive within the Global division and was seconded to Papua New Guinea as part of a change management process.
Upon return from secondment, I applied to become recognised as a Qualified Practicing Insurance Broker (QPIB) with NIBA College. I was awarded the QPIB designation and wear it with great pride.
I was then selected to take part in the Aon Emerge Leadership program and was subsequently promoted to Client Executive with a continued focus on outbound multinational accounts.
I’m happy to report that I have achieved a career ambition of being seconded to Aon in the USA, moving to Chicago in early 2015. This has been an amazing opportunity and given me a chance to develop myself in a foreign market while sharing collaborative ideas across borders. It’s a very exciting time for my career. It just shows what can be achieved with hard work, focus and dedication.
What are your professional ambitions?
Working in the global division has opened my eyes to the world of multinational business and I have developed a passion for this work. I’ve decided it’s where I want to build my career. It is a great privilege to work in such an experienced and diverse team.
A major goal of mine has always been to be seconded to the United States to become familiar with their markets and practices before returning to Australia to apply these skills to my daily broking. I’m extremely proud to have been able to achieve that.
In particular, I want to learn more about franchising programs and captive initiatives while gaining opportunities to develop overseas experience on multinational accounts. I’d really like to get an appreciation for multicultural and multinational environments.
Why is broker education important to you personally?
Insurance brokers are professionals and need to be educated accordingly. In the same way a lawyer or accountant is recognised, an insurance broker’s qualifications are equally important. I entered the industry with fundamentally no qualifications and have since worked my way through to an Advanced Diploma of Financial Services. I am very fortunate to have had Aon recognise the importance of obtaining these qualifications and encouraging my training.
What doors has QPIB opened for you in your career?
Attaining QPIB was a personal triumph as my age often comes into question for my role. It’s comforting to clients and colleagues to know that, despite my age, I’m qualified.
As a young professional, there is always the chance a client or prospect may not take you seriously because of your age. Being a recognised, qualified professional in your field provides them with the confidence that you know what you’re talking about when you’re in a room of experienced people. I told some of our clients when I achieved my QPIB recognition and one of the risk managers provided me with an excellent reference that went on to help me become a finalist for the NIBA Young Professional of the Year Award in QLD.
Why would you recommend new entrants to the industry seek to attain QPIB as soon as they can?
I would definitely recommend striving to attain the QPIB designation as early in your broking career as possible. It’s very important, provided you have the skill set required to back the recognition. Professionalism isn’t just required in the workplace. Attaining QPIB will make you a walking billboard for your organisation and you need to conduct yourself accordingly.
What do you enjoy most about a career in insurance broking?
Being given the opportunity to help people. In the global space, our clients really recognise and appreciate us as part of their team and our services are respected accordingly. It is an important job for us to make sure our clients’ interests are protected and I take pride in helping them to achieve this on a daily basis.