Allan Amber is the Managing Director of MGA Insurance Brokers.
In the past 12 months, MGA has become a fully national business with offices in every mainland state of Australia as well as in many regional areas. Earlier this year it also purchased Barker Meier Insurance Brokers, adding to its Adelaide business.
Can you tell us about your career and how it led to Managing Director at MGA?
When I first left school, I went to work in the family market garden. In 1970, I joined United Insurance Company where I worked for 10 years, rising to local Branch Manager. In 1980 I went into insurance broking in partnership with John George and Brian McInerney.
We had a philosophy of profitable growth and looking to capitalise on the rationalisation of insurance co-representation in regional South Australia. John, Brian and I have now worked together for more than 30 years, using our individual skills collectively to grow the business. In 2009 I took over the role of Managing Director.
Briefly, what does your role involve?
I work closely with the management team. They have their areas of responsibility and work closely with me. I am still very much a hands-on broker and look after some of our larger clients with whom I have had a long term business relationship.
What are the most rewarding aspects of your job?
Having the opportunity to work with a great group of people and dealing with clients I respect for their success in business. I have been involved with these people as their insurance broker for a long period of time.
What have been the highlights of your career to date?
I have been very fortunate to go into business with John and Brian and share our collective vision for the business. Observing the firm’s succession plan working effectively is a highlight and an area of satisfaction.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy getting away and travelling through Australia by 4WD and experiencing the outback and high country. I am also involved with my local Church community, although I am not sure that fits into the spare time category. I was raised on the land and stay connected to outdoor activities like gardening and using the items of equipment that one needs (described as toys by some members of my family).
What are the most important business lessons you have learned?
Sticking to ones knitting; maintaining control over your enterprise and using the skills of the people around you. I have learnt that many successes have come through the input of staff and it is important to give them the opportunity to achieve satisfaction from their endeavours. MGA recently became a national organisation with offices in each mainland state.
How has this affected your work?
Each state has its own parochialism and one needs to be across the way each state operates. MGA has had to think in much broader terms in such areas as IT and reporting systems. Our operations managers travel regularly, but new technology in conferencing assists in better efficiencies and less time away from home.
If you were not in this industry, what would you have liked to have done?
I would probably be involved in some area of primary industry. MGA is a second generation family company.
How have you handled transition issues?
By communication and continually talking our way through the processes involved. We have also been mindful of the needs, gifts and abilities of all including the future goals of the operation.
Where to next for MGA?
Our philosophy is unchanged. Our focus must always be on recognising the needs of our clients and how we deliver. We operate a large broking force of Authorised Representatives. For MGA they also are our clients. Acquisitions
are giving us opportunities to grow and we are keen to present our story and operating system advantages to potential sellers.