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Starting out as an underwriter in marine insurance before making his way into the broking environment, his stellar career has been accelerated when he won the 2016 Insurance Apprentice.
An honour, which the modest and cheerful Brooks downplays as ‘old news’.
Today Brooks runs the South African operation of Price Forbes, a leading corporate broker providing personalized, bespoke and tailormade solutions to sophisticated clientele.
“When I say corporate specialist, there’s a lot that goes into that. Our strength lies in solving for clients with complex and dynamic risks, for the things that go bang,” he says.
“We have the expertise to actually put together tailor-made and a bespoke solutions in the current market environment where it’s quite difficult to find appropriate cover for those complex and evolving risks”.
As one of the country’s most respected and competitive second tier brokers, Forbes cultivates the independence and agility that enables a precise and nimble response to client needs.
“Our strategy is not to become too big. If we do, we will probably lose some of our values and not be able to deliver the type of service that we built this business on,” says Brooks.
“To me, delivering exceptional value is not so much about the pricing of risk, as price tends to be fairly consistent when you go to the market, but it’s more about trying to assist clients in understanding risk control. To achieve this, proper risk analysis is essential to identify issues that many businesses might not consider to be high on their risk register.”
Beyond its refined ability to understand, advise and solve for the complex, dynamic and unique risks of its clients, Price Forbes relies on intimate business relationships.
“One of our main differentiators that we drive every day is trying to get clients to think differently about insurance and to bring energy into the environment by optimizing interactions,” says Brooks.
“We’re trying to get clients excited about insurance, to not just look at it as a transactional expense, something you must have, but as something that adds real value to a business”.
These key relationships extend beyond clients to top-tier partners.
“Were selling bespoke solutions, and we’re making promises on the back of that. For us to deliver those promises we need to partner with the right people – people that are on a similar journey and that have similar values and similar beliefs. If we do not do that, then we don’t have much of a chance of delivering on those promises,” he says.
“I’ve been dealing with Fulcrum since I’ve been at Price Forbes, and that’s probably about five or six years now,” he says, “to me, the business relationship and the partnership just makes a lot of sense for many reasons.”
“Firstly, is the ease of doing business. Transacting with Fulcrum is not like some other providers, where there is lots of red tape before you can get to someone that makes a decision. You get to decision makers fast.”
– Price Forbes South Africa CEO, Andre Brooks
“Secondly, it’s important that we that we offer flexibility to our clients. Although we are quite a small team, we have a brand that’s 133 years old, and a big differentiator for us is that we can be flexible, and we can be agile. So, a big thing for me with Fulcrum is flexibility – they’re always open to having a conversation, in partnering to win new business.
“Third is that it’s important to be competitive. Economics dictate that if you’re not competitive in terms of pricing, then it doesn’t matter how much of a nice guy you are and how much value you add to the business or how much energy you bring to the table. It is a ticket to the game in today’s environment. Fulcrum is competitive.”
“The last thing, the most important thing, is that we tell clients that we’re not going to give you a one size fits all solution, we’re going to come in and we’re going to tailor make something to fit you. If we do not have a partner that can assist us with that, and that actually provides tailor made and bespoke solutions, then our promises just mean absolutely nothing.
“Fulcrum is good at that – they are prepared to unpack a client’s financial statements; they are prepared to look at client specific needs and restructure the deal to suit those specific needs”.