THE FULCRUM GROUP Q&A:
WITH DAVID CHOW

- IIWC PRESIDENT 2021

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Q: Tell us a little about yourself, and your career in insurance.

A: I am David Chow, currently the Engineering underwriting manager for Bryte Insurance South Africa in the Western Cape region. I started my career in 2011, straight out of school into a learnership programme, and I got selected amongst 20 other students to work permanently for Zurich the year thereafter.

I held many positions during this time, from underwriting intern to claims intern to solely running with the Botswana portfolio. These small steppingstones then led me to an opportunity in the Western Cape market, where I was offered the Engineering Manager role.

In 2015 I felt I needed to help society more and got involved in the insurance institutes, which I undertook with a role in the Insurance Institute of the Western Cape (IIWC) along with my mentor, Liza Morris.

In 2021, I was nominated as President of the IIWC, and to this point, I aspire to help and change society and the insurance industry for the better through hard work, passion and consistency in everything I achieve to do.

Q: Being involved with an insurance institute suggests furthering yourself, your peers and your industry. Which of the three is most important to you?

A: Furthering your industry – Firstly, because I always believed it was about self with these institutes, but it is more than that. It’s the bigger picture, what you can do to change the industry and make it better. If people aren’t involved in the institute, there would be a lack of the industry getting together and being able to have the comradery amongst each other.

It is up to people like us to make sure that the industry grows and is kept together. Therefore, I have a vision to attract more younger people into this industry as there is so much knowledge that we are losing in the current state.

Q: To which kinds of people should the insurance industry be offering career opportunities? How do you see your institute helping to make this happen?

A: People who are passionate and are willing to learn in the industry, it doesn’t really matter the age, race or sex in this instance. What’s more important is their hunger and work ethic for the insurance sector. We are running bursary programmes every year, which offers people an opportunity to study insurance courses to better themselves within the insurance sector. Secondly, we have just launched the RISE programme which offers young under 35’s the opportunity to be mentored by a senior member in our industry, hence closing the gap in the shortage of knowledge.

Q: If you had to make an elevator pitch to someone on why they should belong to an insurance institute, what would you say to them before the lift doors open and they’re gone forever?

A: How are you currently making a difference in society? I just came back from a charity called Mzananda Animal clinic and to first-hand witness dogs and cats that were abused or hurt in a devastating state, and how they were taken care of through our support.

We manage to raise funds every year to keep their doors open. So, I ask again, what are you doing to make a difference?

Q: Covid-19 hit the global insurance industry hard in 2020, with great uncertainty, increased business risk and huge losses. What can and are institutes such as yours doing to support insurance professionals in these difficult times?

A: We ran a campaign last year, called the COVID 19 challenge which challenged the industry to give back through competitions, online webinars, online quizzes and so forth.

We raised over R 380,000 to be able to donate towards the Food Forward Charity to help those that are without food and clothes, especially during 2020.  In addition, we continue to run edu-webinars to keep people engaged and some webinars are focused on the impact of COVID-19 and what people can do to help themselves.

Q: Staying on Covid-19, this is an issue that will be with us for some time still. What is your prediction around how the insurance industry will respond to it for the foreseeable future?

A: Witnessing how generous the insurance sector remained in 2020, I believed that this showed us as council that companies and people will always help if they understand the need correctly. It is up to us to drive the understanding of how we can stay together in order to show our support in an economy that is battered and bruised from last year.

Q: Technological advances and direct are two of the biggest drivers of change in how insurance is bought and managed. Both are here to stay – so how does your institute help members to be future-fit?

A:  2020 brought an eye-opener for me, it was amazing to witness. We converted our education seminars online last year, and the number of people that attended doubled, almost tripled. From 120 attendees to almost 250. The feedback was also overwhelming and filled with positivity, because not only did we bridge the gap to include a lot of younger people in the industry, we were able to get engagement to a greater crowd and brought international speakers in some webinars.

Technology has created a Hybrid opportunity for institutes like us, even with the vaccine in place, we will still keep our webinars online whilst presenting live with an audience, as this is what inclusion looks like.

Q: What is the smartest thing you’ve ever seen an insurance professional do?

A: When I attended the GIBS programme last year, I had a mentor and he really didn’t mind helping me wherever he could.  It was the moment, where he took the plunge to leave his company and start his own service provider operating in motor insurance. He created his own brand and took companies like Mercedes Benz and BMW on as direct clients, offering direct insurance at their offices. Therefore, crossing out the middleman and having the backing of a corporate. He now has 24 employees working for him and took BMW nationally. His work ethic and passion for this industry impressed me, his creative and thoughtful approach was his way of life and something I saw for myself in a span of a few months.  

Q: No doubt you’re very proud of your institute. But is there anything you’d particularly like to improve or introduce during your tenure, and make it even better?

A: Closing the gap of the young members in our organisation and older members that are retiring through a mentorship programme. Embracing the youth in our industry and getting them more involved and connected to grow our industry and make it more balance and sustainable with the knowledge that isn’t lost yet.

Furthermore, working closer with our fellow institutes where we could help each other more to our members and being able to offer them more with the different capabilities each one of the institutes has.

Q: Name one person in the insurance industry who truly inspires you and tell us why.

A: Liza Morris, she took me under her wing when I really needed a mentor. She taught me her ways and even inspired me to become someone I never dreamt of. I never liked public speaking, ever! Yet, Liza put me on a stage in front of 120 of our members and said, “You can do it, I have faith in you”, at that point I believed in myself.

Seeing her on stage made me comfortable and relaxed, and boosted my confidence. Throughout the years on council, I became more confident in myself and what I stood for. She inspired me to do that, and I share my gratitude and thanks for the patience and time that she shared with me to get to this point.

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