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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Fraud - 10 Questions To Ask Yourself


Fraud risk remains a constant problem for the General Insurance Industry. The consequences of this risk are not exclusively financial; they can also affect the organisation's reputation and as we have seen in recent events may result in an investigation by regulators. 

Here are some of the questions you could ask that can help identify and control fraud risk in your organisation:
  1. Have you identified high risk areas for fraud?
  2. Are the right people involved in high risk decisions?
  3. Are the right number of people involved in high risk decisions?
  4. Are appropriate background checks carried out on employees and representatives?
  5. Are there processes in place to monitor and manage outsource suppliers?
  6. Are relationships between staff, clients or suppliers managed and monitored?
  7. Is there any system of peer review or file audit?
  8. Do you undertake external audits of your compliance system?
  9. Do you undertake external reviews of your business processes?
  10. Do you undertake “mystery shopping” or other monitoring and supervision activities?
While the risk of fraud can never be eliminated, we can all stay vigilant to reduce the likelihood of it occurring in your business. 

If you would like any assistance in managing your fraud risk, please contact Gold Seal 03 9510 5100 or submit an inquiry on our website.

Friday, 12 July 2013

What is misleading or deceptive conduct?

"Misleading or deceptive conduct" is a term of major importance in relation to all businesses' dealings with other parties. 

Its prohibition can be found in the Australian Consumer Law (which is contained in the Competition and Consumer Act) and the various State and Territory Fair Trading Acts, which prohibit businesses from engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct in trade or commerce.
Conduct will be misleading or deceptive if it induces error, or is capable of inducing error, in an ordinary reasonable person.  When determining whether conduct is misleading or deceptive:
  • it is the overall impression that counts;
  • the dominant message is the most important, not the "fine print".  
Misleading or deceptive conduct can consist of spoken or written words or any other conduct such as gestures, body language or even silence or lack of response. A company can engage in misleading or deceptive conduct by reason of the actions of its officers, employees or agents.

Conduct can give rise to liability even if:
  • it has not actually misled anyone.  All that is necessary is that the conduct is likely to mislead or deceive people;
  • the person making the representation acted honestly and reasonably.  All that is necessary for liability to arise is that the conduct did, in fact, mislead or deceive; and
  • the affected person did not make proper inquiries, or could have discovered that the conduct was misleading or deceptive had they investigated the matter.
  • The above definition is quoted from website Australia Gvt small business

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Steadfast float attracts all majors

Steadfast managing director and CEO Robert Kelly has revealed that “several” network brokers have expressed an interest in the allocation of IPO shares.
Kelly made the statement yesterday as the cluster group issued a replacement prospectus, outlining that the final number of shares to be issued to vendors will be 135 million, with plans to raise $334m from investors.
“The replacement prospectus is an important milestone in the IPO process,” Steadfast managing director & CEO, Robert Kelly said. “A large number of vendors have opted to receive consideration shares as part of the IPO Acquisitions. In addition several network brokers have indicated an appetite for an allocation of shares in the IPO Offer.
“The IPO is on track and progressing as planned, and I look forward to the weeks ahead.”
The consideration shares will be issued following the elections made by relevant vendors of equity interests in businesses being sold to Steadfast (IPO acquisitions), following their review of the prospectus.
All consideration shares are subject to escrow restrictions from the date of the issue of those shares until 31 August 2014 (subject to certain early release conditions referred to in the prospectus).
The total shares on issue immediately after completion of the IPO will be between 490 million and 545 million.
The IPO will be offered to certain investors at an indicative price range of $1.00 to $1.20 per IPO share with an expected market capitalisation of $545m to $587m based on the Indicative price range. The final price per IPO Share will be determined at the conclusion of a book build process on or around 30 July 2013. The final price may be set within or above the indicative price range of $1.00 to $1.20 per share.
Upon listing, the vendors together with Steadfast network brokers are expected to hold 37-41% of the shares in Steadfast, reaffirming their commitment to the business and its future success.
The IPO is conditional on achieving a final price of at least $1 per IPO share, Steadfast completing acquisitions representing at least 93% of the aggregate purchase price of all Acquisitions, ASX granting conditional listing approval and final board approval.
The prospectus is available in electronic form at Eligible investors should consider the prospectus and read it in full in deciding whether to acquire Steadfast shares. If you want to acquire shares, you must complete the relevant application form in, or which accompanies, the prospectus.

Perth has it's lion share of Steadfast Insurance brokers, some of the most notable are

  • Phoenix Insurance brokers, South Perth
  • Centrewest Ins brokers
  • LTM Risk Brokers 

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Disaster “funding paralysis” Industry needs to lead

“As leaders of our respective communities, we need to work together to develop a national long-term approach to managing natural disasters by investing in a co-ordinated resilience response that focuses on prevention,” he added.

The insurance industry must do more than just pay claims in times of natural disasters, they must be leaders too.
These are the words of CGU CEO Peter Harmer who told a breakfast briefing of key government officials, business, community and emergency services stakeholders there was a collective responsibility to prepare the nation for natural disasters.
Turning to insurers, Harmer said their own role was more than just paying claims. “I believe we have a leadership role to play in addressing the funding paralysis that undercuts government effectiveness in delivering necessary prevention,” he said.
He also called for stakeholders to build a collective responsibility to natural disasters to build the nation’s capacity to respond to natural disasters and ensure that future generations are protected.
 “The financial and emotional burden of natural disasters is immense and the human toll is even more confronting,” he said. “In just the last four years alone, natural disasters in Australia have claimed more than 200 lives and directly affected hundreds of thousands of people.”
He highlighted the importance of identifying and prioritising pre-disaster investment activities that deliver a positive net impact on future budget outlays. “By identifying and prioritising pre-disaster investment activities that deliver a positive net impact on future budget outlays, we can build disaster resilience and safer communities.”
However, he conceded that managing natural disasters was more than just the economic cost.
 “It also has long-term psychological and physical costs to our communities which, if better managed, could be avoided. Natural disasters are enormously stressful, turn lives upside down and take away our sense of security,” he said.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

SME bankruptcies can be avoided by sound broker advice

“Mining companies tend to be large multinational companies that have one standard contract for contractors regardless of the project or where it is being carried out.

According to Charmian Holmes, solicitor director of The Fold Legal, who told Insurance Business that over the last three years there has been an increase in SMEs who are exposed to uninsured liabilities and forced to close down to pay out.
SME contractors are closing down because they are footing the bill for liability claims, that unbeknownst to them, are not covered by their insurance policy.
Contractors are being asked to sign large and extensive commercial contracts with companies but aren’t always receiving advice from brokers as to whether their liability insurance covers the project. In many cases, businesses’ coverage is inadequate and they are forced to pay claims out of their own pockets, forcing them to wind down their businesses.
Holmes said this was particularly an issue in the mining industry because of the boom in Australia.
“There are SME contractors who are asked to sign large extensive commercial contracts but aren’t getting the right advice from their broker or a legal expert before signing so when there is a problem with the project, they find their insurance does not cover it and they are put out of business. They only realise this when a claim is made.”
It is an issue that is not restricted to mining. The Fold, which provides a free contract review service for Steadfast brokers and their clients, said it applies to SMEs that exchange a variety of goods and services with other companies.
“It could be an architect contracted to work on a building or a company taking out a lease on an office,” Holmes said.
She conceded that companies had to manage their own exposures but highlighted that too often SMEs were carrying a financial burden that was not theirs.The situation has been exacerbated by the global financial crisis, which made many companies keen to pursue claims that, in the past, they might have overlooked.
Holmes said the issue was not helped by the fact that insurance companies do not provide “blanket contractual liability insurance” but added insurers assess the risk on a case-by-case basis. In the first instance, she urged SMEs to show their broker the commercial contract.
“They will be able to assist you in managing your exposures or help you buy the right coverage. They, or a legal expert, might be able to help find ways to renegotiate your contract with the company so that the insurer might provide cover,” she added.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The change in Labor party leadership less than 100 days before the federal election has brought into sharp focus the need for SMEs to stop waiting for a silver bullet to fix the economic woes which might come with a change in government.

Experts say too many SMEs are holding off on making decisions about their companies, in the hope that if a Liberal Government is elected, this will signal greater investment in business and prompt entrepreneurs to do the same. But with the ousting of Prime Minister Julia Gillard by Kevin Rudd this week, some predict that political instability may continue into 2014, as any policy will take at least 12 months to be legislated and implemented.
 “Many businesses have postponed major decisions in anticipation of September’s Federal election,” said Chris Gebhardt, the head of the business advisory focus group of mid-tier accounting and advisory firm William Buck, but with Rudd’s new position,  the Liberals winning the election is no longer a foregone conclusion.
“If the Liberal party is voted in come September, SMEs might think government will start spending money. While the outcome should provide greater certainty, the election isn’t going to be a silver bullet for the economy nor will it bring about an immediate increase in consumer confidence.
“The Labor Party now has a better front man that will challenge Tony Abbot.  If Gillard had retained her position, SMEs might have thought that the Liberals were a frontrunner to win. They have thought about progressing their businesses but now that Rudd is in, it will be a fight in September.  SMEs will want to sit tight until the election before they make any decisions.”
Gebhardt said this is not the best move. “This is an overcautious strategy to enact. Things such as political instability are not things businesses can control.  You shouldn’t wait for certain things to be enacted. When do things ever line up perfectly for you to make certain decisions?
“Businesses should take control of what is in their power. Whatever happens outside of that are things businesses just have to deal with using risk mitigation strategies.”
Political leadership races may not be in an SME’s control but cash flow management is.
“Analysing each profit (and loss) centre within the business will enable you to establish where you can find the greatest efficiencies.”
But in doing so, there is a chance that SMEs could view insurance as an unnecessary expense, making it challenging for brokers to retain customers.
 “Brokers must be proactive in approaching clients and make it clear to them that money is tight but they can do certain things to make the client’s life easier. It might not be a cheaper price but the broker might be able to offer them a better policy at the same price.”

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Major insurer CEO joins OAMPS

 White will become state manager for Victoria/Tasmania in Allianz’ broker & agency – the commercial team of its sales and distribution division.

Prior to joining OAMPS, White held a number of senior roles including chief operating officer at iiNet, as well as marketing roles at RAC in Western Australia and Suncorp Metway.
The head of partnerships & marketing at OAMPS, Mark White, has left the company after almost four years to accept a role at Allianz.
Commenting on his latest position, a spokesman for Allianz said: “Mark’s appointment and previous experience further strengthens Allianz’s ability to understand and respond to the unique requirements of small, medium and large intermediaries.”
 “Mark has been with OAMPS for three-and-a-half years, and we’ve seen significant improvements in the business thanks to Mark’s leadership,” an OAMPS spokeswoman added. “Mark and his team have developed the right plan and strategy to build on our momentum over the next few years, so I am confident we are well positioned to move the business forward and deliver on our client and shareholder expectations.

“OAMPS would like to thank Mark for the role he has played in shaping the business and providing strong support to our people, and we wish him every success and happiness in the future.”

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Boost productivity, 5 simple ways

“Business leaders and managers are often looking for the next big thing when it comes to managing their staff, whether that is a program, an app or a product, when in fact the simplest ways to improve productivity may be right under their noses,” he said.

There are simple changes that can be implemented in practices right now to unlock a business’ productivity, according to Kameleons Developing Leaders founder and principal Michael Peiniger.
Peiniger lists five ways that brokers can become more productive using what they already have:

1.            Prioritise your day into urgent versus important tasks

Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, introduced the concept of urgency versus importance to managing the work day more than 20 years ago. Many brokers will lurch from one seemingly urgent task to the next, not focussing on what is important.

“It is staggering how much time is wasted in a day by a lack of prioritising tasks. Focus on the important tasks first and give them the time that is needed,” Peiniger said.

2.            Use the people in your firm more collaboratively

Repeatedly, people at the same level of a business have to write similar reports, work in the same spaces and are managed by the same individuals, yet will work individually to get tasks done.

Peiniger recently observed the workflow of a group of supervisors as they managed their teams. Each of them had a major end of month report to write, but were constantly interrupted by their direct reports with mundane tasks. A report that should have taken 20 minutes took 4 hours to complete.

Alternating the time they wrote the report and directing their own reports to another supervisor for a short period of time would have saved hours, said Peiniger.

3.            Develop and follow meeting protocols for all internal meetings

Peiniger suggested the following six protocols for meeting effectiveness:
·          Clearly identify and state the objective of the meeting
·          Only invite those people that can help in achieving the objective – observers and ‘for information’ attendees waste time
·          Set a realistic time for the meeting and stick to it
·         Start and end the meeting on time – don’t wait for stragglers and don’t repeat what has   been covered
·         Control discussion so that it doesn’t deviate from the objective
·          Assign tasks to specific individuals with realistic timeframes – you don’t have to wait until the next meeting to follow up and complete things.

4.            Develop and follow email protocols for all internal email communication

Email has become one of the most relied upon communication tools, yet brokers can drown each other with overuse and poor practices. Peiniger says, “Email is often used poorly in businesses but by teaching people to only send clear emails to those that need it can unclog inboxes quite quickly”.

5.            Use your day-to-day programs more effectively

Most brokers are not using the Microsoft Office suite of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Mail, to their potential. Because of the pace of work, people haven’t taken the time to work out many of the short cuts that save time within these programs. Peiniger suggests a tool like KeyRocket to help, which once installed will passively instruct users on more efficient ways of using day-to-day programs, which in turn saves hours per week.

“None of these ideas are new or sexy, so they often get forgotten. But businesses that apply rigour to these areas have dramatically greater productivity than those that don’t,” added Peiniger.

“I received feedback from a client who said by implementing just the meeting protocols for his team, they were saving 8 hours a week. Can you imagine creating an extra 8 hours a week to focus on core tasks?”