30 Minutes with Joan Fitzpatrick
A conversation with Joan Fitzpatrick,
What is the focus of ANZIIF ('the Institute')?
We are focused on growing and developing professionalism in the
insurance industry across all disciplines,
underwriting, claims, broking, general,
life, risk, workers compensation and
compulsory third party insurance, loss
adjusting and even financial planning.
We are also committed to improving
the image of the industry in the
eyes of the general community.
The Institute has been around for over
120 years. What have been some of
the main challenges and opportunities?
The Institute has always been an
integral part of the insurance industry
in Australia. It is one of the oldest
professional associations in the world
and began life in 1884 in Melbourne
before spanning the continent and
expanding into New Zealand and Asia
Pacific. Our members live in more than
50 countries around the world and our
students live in more than 30 countries.
The biggest challenge is perennial and
that is to remain relevant and provide a
valued service and set of products to the
industry. That means that we must stay
constantly on our toes and be capable
of moving and adapting in tandem
with the local and global industry.
A quite significant series of product
and service changes have been made
over our nearly 130 years of history and
some important structural changes have
also been successfully implemented.
One example of the latter was the
way in which we were able to unify
the Institute structure from nine
separately incorporated companies to
one single Institute entity in 2000.
Our most recent major governance
and structural review took place last
year as we looked out over the horizon
of the next five to ten years and asked
ourselves: was our structure fit for purpose
for the future? We are in the process of
implementing a whole series of exciting
structural changes which are focused
upon enhancing our service delivery to
members and our education delivery
to students via online and social media
platforms. We launched our new
Faculty structure on 1st May 2012 -
ensuring that we now have a dedicated
Faculty for our broking members.
What are the current global or local issues facing the insurance
and financial services industry?
One of the big issues for the industry in Australia (and this has resonance
globally) is widespread under-insurance
and non-insurance. The level of
knowledge and understanding about
insurance - its value, its purpose, how
and why it works - is very low across
Australia's population. This lack of
knowledge is a core component of
the under and non-insurance issue. In
addition there are many unwarranted
negative views of insurance companies
in the community and politicians
and media largely support these.
The Institute has been working to try to
change public perception and improve
understanding and knowledge of
insurance and risk management through
a series of initiatives over the past
decade. One example is the running and hosting of the industry awards each year
recognising and celebrating excellence
in our industry here and in New Zealand
for the past 9 years. Our most recent
initiative is the KnowRisk platform
(KnowRisk.com.au), which we will launch
to the general public later in 2012.
The Institute is committed to the pursuit of professional excellence and business
success. How is this achieved?
We believe that a well educated industry
leads in turn to professional excellence
and business success. Our education
programs are acknowledged to be the
most comprehensive quality technical
education available in the Asia Pacific
region. We have won the coveted Asia
Education Provider of the Year Award
8 times in the past 10 years. However,
we do not confine ourselves to formal
education and training programs.
We provide all sorts of continuous
professional development opportunities
via a range of delivery methodologies
- online, face-to-face, short courses,
intensive and custom built courses,
seminars and conferences.
We also know that belonging to a
professional community and being able
to engage, meet and network with fellow
industry participants is an important
element of professional growth and
excellence and so we provide diverse
opportunities for this amongst our
member and student community.
How does the Institute provide guidance,
support and advice to the end user/client
of insurance and financial services?
We do not have a direct relationship with
the customers or buyers of insurance
cover but we aim to ensure that the
customers' experience of our industry
and their product is a professional and
ethical one. All our members abide by
a strict code of ethical behaviour. Our
direct contact with the community
is however growing through our
community education initiative
Know Risk (KnowRisk.com.au).
What are the key issues facing women
leaders in the corporate world and/or
what needs to be done in the industry
around gender diversity?
Our industry has much to do to truly
address the issues of gender diversity and
equity for women. All the statistics are
quite damning and we are particularly
unequal when it comes to remuneration.
I could talk about this subject for hours
because it is such an important issue for
I believe that attitudes and beliefs
are beginning to change and more
organisations are learning to focus on
the dearth of senior women executives
and board members and the serious
business problems this causes.
A core driver for positive action is the
difficulty companies are experiencing in
attracting, recruiting and retaining talent.
I believe that they should look inside their
own ranks and the women occupying
important roles and doing great work
below executive level. Focusing on
growing existing female talent and
working out ways to help them work
flexibly so that they can handle their caregiver
and parenting roles would be a very
On the other side of the coin, it is also
true that women need to take charge of
their own careers and their ambitions and
ask for more experience and opportunity.
Very often the bias against promoting
women is unconscious. Women tend
to get senior roles in areas such as
marketing, HR, communications or
accounting. They need to strive to get
some profit and loss experience if they
are to rise to executive and senior ranks
or the CEO role.
How important is educational awareness
within the industry and how is the Institute
I think that the industry does very
well in terms of its commitment to
education and professional focus. It has
a long tradition of this commitment
although there are some pockets of the
industry that still prefer to do as little
as possible as cheaply as possible to
gain the minimum level of education
for regulatory compliance. The really
enlightened organisations understand
that the better educated the staff, the
better performance is achieved for the
whole business. Knowledge, education
and technical skills, all lead to confident,
capable staff members who make
less mistakes, are more likely to stay longer with the company that provides
education and development and are
more likely to use initiative and problem
The Institute promotes the value of
education constantly in every activity
every day - it is truly embedded in the
What lies ahead for the Institute around
new or upcoming initiatives?
We are very excited by the new Faculty
structure and the opportunity for us to
reach our members and break down
traditional geographic barriers via our
online services delivery. Our KnowRisk
platform is also very leading edge and
the innovation required and challenges
presented to realise our vision of
improved understanding of risk and
insurance in the general community is