Being a partner at Ontario West Insurance Brokers usually keeps Traci Boland plenty busy. But wanting to see just how much work she could take on, Boland was also the 2017 President of the IBAO (Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario). During her time as President, one of the things she focused on was brokers, insurers and tech companies coming together and working towards a common goal.

We caught up with Boland in late December just before she flew to Las Vegas to ring in 2018 to get her thoughts on her year spent as IBAO President, the future of brokers and more.

GO MAGAZINE: As you reflect back on your time as the President of IBAO what was your biggest highlight? What was your biggest challenge?

TRACI BOLAND: Looking back on 2017, the biggest highlight for me was the reaction from brokers at the change in IBAO. IBAO has gone through many changes in the last four years and in 2016 and 2017 we truly moved forward to a bigger and better IBAO. It was wonderful to hear the positive comments and the engaged conversations all over the province with brokers.

The biggest challenge was and still remains to be technology. Moving forward to a space where brokers and insurance companies can come together and work towards data exchange has been time consuming and at times frustrating. I do believe that there’s a silver lining in this and the work that the IBAO Technology Committee has been doing in 2017 will pay off in 2018 as we move closer to our goal.  We have so many company partners behind our initiative that want to move forward for the betterment of the broker channel.

Brian Purcell from James Purcell Insurance Brokers will be the 2018 IBAO President. What emotions and thoughts are running through your head as your time as President wraps up?

I’m looking forward to Brian taking over in January and am looking forward to getting my life and business back on track. It takes a lot of time and energy to be on the Executive team and it’ll be nice to not be on the road or on conference calls 80% of the year. But I’m definitely going to miss it all.

I’m still on the IBAO Board as Chair, and I’ll keep working on the technology file as well as being the Ontario representative at IBAC (Insurance Brokers Association of Canada). IBAO has been a major part of my life for many years now, and the friends, acquaintances, education and contacts have been all worth it. The association is being left in great hands and Brian will do an amazing job.

How would you like to see IBAO continue to grow? Do you have any advice for Brian?

My advice for Brian is to have an assistant take care of the travel for the year! I think I failed miserably at this in 2017. I would like to see IBAO continue with its renewed energy. We have big plans for education and members at the grassroots level in 2018 and Brian has a large task ahead of him. He has a passion for the community broker and young brokers; this will be beneficial as the IBAO Board and working group complete their tasks from the long-range plan in 2018.

Last April, IBAO welcomed the Government of Ontario’s budget pledge to give drivers the option of electronic proof of insurance. With the technology imminent, can you explain how the electronic distribution of insurance documents will be beneficial to brokers?

IBAO embraced the changes that the Government of Ontario put within the budget on the electronic distribution of insurance documents for a discount. This move is long overdue and in the end will allow brokers to distribute documents to their customers in a manner that costs less. It was also an opportunity for IBAO to bring together all the vendors and broker management systems to find out what solutions are out there for brokers to communicate with their customers digitally. We were able to put out an education piece to let all brokers across Ontario know their options and what they need to be prepared for in the future.

Right now our customers want to be communicated with in many different manners; this is where brokers can shine. We can deliver communications to customers in whatever way they want. Whether it be electronically, by regular mail or in person, brokers are able to do this.

This was also an opportunity for brokers across Canada to ask our company partners to keep the brokers as the main source of communication. We don’t want to find ourselves in the same place that we did years ago with multiple company portals, but this time around for our customers with company apps.  If brokers can implement their customer communication plans and communicate with their customers digitally, companies won’t have to work around us and can again work together with brokers.

During our Fast Forward event last June, Aly Kanji from InsureLine said, “In my view there’s probably going to be 70, 90 brokers across Canada seven or eight years from now.” Your response was a simple “No,” which caused the crowd to erupt with applause. Has your position changed since then?

My views remain the same today as they were in June.  The broker channel will remain a strong one in the future, but there’s work that brokers need to do now to ensure this with technology being at the forefront. In Ontario, we have 1,239 brokerage offices as IBAO members. We saw 5% of these sold in 2017, but 85% of them were sold to another broker. This is a positive number which I would personally like to see grow in 2018.

As products become more complicated and new risks develop daily, there will always be a place for brokers. It’ll be up to the individual brokerages to ensure that they remain relevant in the future, though. But through technology and aligning with the right partners there will be success for the broker channel.

Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions?

I want to smile more, laugh more and work in my brokerage more. And this year I’m going to get to Memphis and see Graceland because I’m sort of an Elvis freak!

Happy 2018 to everyone!

Want to learn more about the IBAO? Visit their website here. You can also find Ontario West Insurance Brokers online here and follow Traci Boland on Twitter here.

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