It’s a cliché among people who work in the insurance industry to say, “I just fell into this business.” Ainsley Brush is a BrokerLink insurance advisor in Cobourg, Ontario, who recently celebrated thirty years as a broker. She started working in insurance simply because she liked working in an office. She used to describe herself as one of those people who just fell into this business. But now, when she reflects on her career, it’s clear she was always destined to be in insurance.
Ainsley is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. Her great-grandfather started an insurance agency in 1910 called M.H. McWilliams and Sons. He passed on the business to his son, Ainsley’s grandfather. Ainsley’s father also worked in insurance for a short time, and even though it wasn’t for him, her uncles, aunts and cousins all worked in insurance as well.
“Insurance is in my blood,” Ainsley says. “It was unavoidable for me.”
Ainsley didn’t begin her career in insurance because of her love for deductibles and premiums. It was because of her love of working with people. She began as a receptionist, but it wasn’t long before she wanted to contribute more.
“I felt kind of useless because I didn’t have my license,” Ainsley says. “I could just answer the phone, I couldn’t answer questions.”
Ainsley decided to get her insurance license so she could help out her coworkers. However, the first time she took the RIBO test, she failed. She buckled down, took it again and passed. She would later further her education by getting both her CIP and CAIB certifications.
Thirty years later, Ainsley has seen the insurance industry go through a lot of change. In addition to no longer being able to smoke at their desks, insurance advisors have a lot more technology that helps them do their jobs.
“Back when I started everything was handwritten,” Ainsley says. “If somebody called in for a quote you had to pull out all the manuals, flip through, figure out how old they are, what vehicle they need insured, where they live, what coverages they want, and manually write out each quote for each company.”
Now, all of this can be done in a matter of minutes, with the click of a few buttons.
Today, we know the value that technology brings and how it can make our lives a lot easier. But in the 1980s, it was not easy to convince everyone that personal computers were the way of the future. Even to this day, it can be hard to get people on board with changes of any kind. People tend to fear what they don’t know and don’t understand. Ainsley was never one of those people. She says embracing change is just in her nature.
“I love change,” Ainsley says. “That’s just my personality. I like to learn new things. That’s what I love about insurance too. You are always learning, every single day.”
Ainsley says this spirit of embracing change is in her blood, just like insurance. Her father and grandfather always embraced new advances in technology. Her father in particular always wanted to be the first to try any new gadget on the market.
Insurance isn’t the only industry that’s seen massive change in the past thirty years. Every business has had to adapt with changing technology. Businesses also have to understand that customers’ expectations are different than they used to be. And Ainsley knows how important it is to adapt and grow.
“You have to go with the times,” she says. “You fall behind if you don’t.”
Although Ainsley has seen a lot of change, the one constant throughout her career has been the focus on relationships with coworkers and customers. It can be a hard line to walk these days. Customers want things faster and faster, but they still want to be treated like an individual.
“I find there are so many businesses out there that don’t care,” Ainsley says. “They want to get off the phone as quickly as they can. And you can feel that.”
Ainsley says that as an insurance advisor, she never wants people to feel this way. She strives to always connect with her customers and ensure they know their business is wanted and needed.
“You want people to feel happy to talk to you,” she explains. “I don’t think we should ever get rid of that no matter how important technology becomes.”
To those starting out in the insurance industry, Ainsley doesn’t envy you. Today, there is so much more to learn when you’re beginning your career. Not only do you have to be an expert in insurance, you also have to master all the new tools that come along with it. Ainsley says the key to getting through the learning curve is having someone to mentor you through it.
Thirty years, four kids, and three grandkids later, it’s been a wild ride. At BrokerLink, we are lucky to have Ainsley on the team. She brings experience and a willingness to always learn new things. Combine these two qualities with a passion for relationship building and customer service, and you have the recipe for a broker who can do pretty much anything!