Leecia Burford of Leecia Burford Financial Services won the 2016 Professional Advisers Association
(PAA) award for New Insurance Adviser of the Year. The PAA said its awards are designed to recognise PAA members who demonstrate the founding values of the association: client advocacy, diligence in their work, compliance with relevant regulations and professional development.
The PAA said this of Burford when she received her award last year: “Leecia has created a customer experience around her insurance services that would be the envy of most businesses. Leecia demonstrated that helping clients make informed decisions about insurance products was only step one in the customer relationship.”
Burford said she treated each client like the “unique individual they are”.
“With core values that focus on providing a service that is built on empathy and compassion, and that is uniquely tailored to each individual client’s personal circumstances. We’ll create a customised insurance plan that works with your budget, and covers every eventuality in your specific life situation.
“And I’ll be there when it matters, making sure that your insurance cover kicks in seamlessly when you need it to,” Burford added.
The insurance industry is often criticised for its lack of diversity, which is slowly changing with females at the helm of insurers such as Fidelity Life, Nadine Tereora, and Partners Life, Naomi Ballantyne
. IAG NZ CEO Craig Olsen’s predecessor Jacki Johnson, left the top job in Auckland to take up the role of IAG Group Executive of People, Performance and Reputation Sydney in January 2016.
Burford said being a woman in insurance has its advantages. “I find I get every detail we need on an application as I can ask any question, and I’m never embarrassed, so neither is my client. Male and female clients seem always at ease taking to a woman about health problems, which is so important as full disclosure is key at claim time”.
Last week, Insurance Business profiled Lisa Barton
, a young mother who recently joined the world of financial advice. Burton said she had been encouraged by male colleagues to make the jump from retail banking to providing financial advice via brokerage Money Empire.
Burford said online insurance and supermarket products were challenges for the industry. “What is the most concerning is that consumers will think they have (adequate) cover, but do they?”
“Life insurance is unique and valuable to client’s specific needs. Advised policies tends to have stronger insurance wordings and represent better value than direct policies.
Burford said the best time to take out trauma cover was at 19 years of age, as most policies will cover children under 19 for free under their parent’s policies. Life insurance is dependent on a specific individual’s needs. But cost shouldn’t be a barrier, she added.
“Most of my clients who say this (cost is a barrier) are most surprised that this is not the case. It’s not an all or nothing with insurance. There are so many options, and new products and insurance companies to choose from, there’s always an affordable option.”
The single biggest improvement the industry could implement would be to provide cover for clients that already have health problems. Burford added that in an ideal world, people would be covered from birth, that way their policies wouldn’t contain any exclusions.
“It’s getting harder to insure clients because of health, as the products have become bigger and better, so there’s more opportunity for a claim, but it also means we often can’t insure. Maybe the insurance industry needs to look at why we can insure those who already have health issues.”
Burford services mainly Auckland-based clients, but does travel the country to see clients outside of our biggest city.
Making a difference at claim time, and seeing how much of a difference it makes to a client’s and their family’s life, is the best part of being an insurance broker, Leecia Burford says.