IINS 66th Annual Awards Dinner
Interviewed by Angus MacCaull
The Insurance Institute of Nova Scotia held its annual awards celebration this November.
Jenna Hillier and Zach Armstrong received their Canadian Risk Management (CRM) designations. And Aneill MacCaull and Greg Hull received their Fellow Charted Insurance Professional (FCIP) designations.
Greg’s FCIP marks earned him the Charlie Giffin Memorial Award, which is presented each year to the top student in fellowship studies in Nova Scotia. He joined familiar industry names like Tena Poirier at Aviva and Bob Somers at Wawanesa, who have also received the honour.
How was everyone feeling that night?
It was a great night with a lot of coworkers and family. We had a good crew and I think all had fun.
I heard Aneill actually got his FCIP before you?
Yes he did! He asked Jenny Reyno to announce his name first so that he could say he got his FCIP before Greg Hull [laughs]. The room certainly laughed, good for him. He’s always looking to pull one over on you. But Harley was quick to remind me that I have the distinct pleasure and honour of being able to say that I am the last person so far at AA Munro to get their FCIP.
Always another way of looking at things [laughs]! What was your main project about?
Mine was about how can a people based culture can accomplish high levels of engagement and achievement. That’s what I spent the better part of six to eight months going to work on.
What were some of the ways you looked at that?
I looked at a group of salespeople inside of our company who are successful both in sales and in living our culture. That was very important.
I asked them to complete an LSI and a DISC profile. The LSI comes from the work we’ve done with Frank Gallant at Peak Experiences. It stands for “Leadership Skills Inventory.” The DISC is some training that I’ve been doing for years, which looks at people’s relationship to Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness.
From there I basically summarized the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of our sales group—trying to identify what kinds of skills, attributes, personalities that some very rounded people inside AA Munro share.
What are some of those strengths, weaknesses and opportunities?
Often when people think about sales they think about a kind of aggression. But one of the things that I discovered with our sales focus group is that only one had some D or Dominance in their DISC. Instead we were very strong in I or Influence and very strong in S or Steadiness. Some of the skills that were very important to our group were things like personal relations and taking time to spend with our clients. The biggest strength that we have is actively listening to a customer’s need.
Our biggest weakness was continuing to take action when facing conflict. So that kind of goes into what we’ve been talking about with our culture conversations, right? As a group our avoidance space kicks in sometimes.
The biggest opportunity that presented itself through this—and what’s really neat, Angus, is not only did the DISC analysis say this, but also the LSI did and it also pretty much used the same language, which is really interesting because that’s two independent types of surveys that mirror each other. So our biggest opportunity is assertively driving to a result. It goes right back to our cultural focus on achievement.
And our biggest threat is not taking initiative to develop new prospects, especially given clients’ consistent search for new deals.
So we do a really good job of listening to people. When things get a little bit tough, sometimes we shut down maybe more quickly than we should. We don’t push as hard to close the deal as best we can. And we can’t just rely on things being ready for us. We have to look for new opportunities as well. Those are some of the things that came out of it.
Why is that kind of in depth research and reflection important at this stage of your journey in insurance? What does that bring to your perspective?
One thing I fear is becoming stagnant and becoming the type of person that says, “Well that’s not going to work because that’s not how we did it before.” I think to me with a history degree, the biggest thing I say about history is, history is a wonderful teacher and if done properly, it should teach you not to repeat the same mistakes. So I want to constantly be looking both backward and forward—and trying to understand and bring skill sets that will help the company. Because I think we’re a very progressive and forward moving company.
Do you have any words of encouragement or consideration for others who are thinking of taking a step toward their CIP or FCIP?
The way I look at is, any bit of knowledge you gain, it only helps you in your personal development. I think personal growth and development is extremely important. It’s very well supported both financially and time wise by AA Munro. It’s one of our cornerstones.
For me it was a 20 year journey to complete my F. That’s a long time, but a lot happened along the way. The book of business grew. My children grew. It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey getting there. Take your time, figure out what fits into your lifestyle and your work-life balance.
And whenever you have that opportunity, I would really encourage everybody to try and grab some courses. Because knowledge is powerful and it makes you a better broker and makes you be able to do what we want to do—which is just take care of our clients’ needs and be trusted advisors.
But don’t get caught up in getting it done. Don’t rush to get it done. Don’t feel like there’s a hurry. Just take it because it fits your life at the time and you want to grow and let the journey take care of itself.
You’ve shared with me a little bit about the next step in your personal development journey with the Queen’s University Law Certificate. How is that shaping up so far?
It’s certainly interesting! With myself and Marla Tate being so active with our commercial clients that we’ve had forever, it just seemed to be the next progression for me to get a bit more of a legal base because we are becoming ever increasingly litigious in Canada. And I’m not passing judgment on that—it’s just a reality. So I think that’s the next opportunity for Marla and me to provide support and service to our longstanding clients and to be able to understand their needs as they change.
And again, I’m not looking to rush and get it done. It’s about carving out a little bit of time to get a little bit of knowledge so that when I have discussions with clients or I have discussions with Marla or we’re figuring stuff out, it’s a benefit that we can bring to our clientele.