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Online Learning: Q&A with Eric Walker

The partner at WFT Corporate Finance & Valuations will be speaking at the P&C Crystal Ball

Eric Walker, partner at WFT Corporate Finance & Valuations, will speak at the 2013 P&C Crystal Ball on January 24 at the Airport Doubletree Hilton in Toronto.Canadian Insurance Top Broker spoke to Walker about what he is forecasting for 2013 and why brokers should look online for valuable education.

What can delegates expect from your session? 

I always say something about M&A because delegates want to know what’s happening to prices in the marketplace and where I think they’re going to be in the coming year. So not much has really changed in that respect. It’s really the same: high prices fuelled by involvement of insurance companies and direct writers in either funding or directly acquiring insurance brokers. So I will be going through that again.

Read: The Rise of Domestic Insurers: Q&A with Alister Campbell 

I will be talking about trends in education, briefly—you could talk about it all day—what’s happening in the marketplace in general, and why it might be interesting to them. And then we’ll tell them what we’re setting up on our learning network for them to access.

The third thing will be that we’re strategically partnering with the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario to compile a broker performance survey. We’ll be gathering the information through a survey on broker operations and then we’ll be analyzing the data and issuing a report to the participants. 

Can you elaborate on some of the specific trends in education that you’ve witnessed?

Online education is becoming a huge part of the delivery of education now. What we will see in the next four years is that online will then become mobile education because tablets are basically replacing laptops. It’s fascinating because education is changing so fast because we now have technological tools that enable us to deliver it in different ways and to provide information in different ways and to expand the availability of content almost exponentially.

What will this mean for brokers that are slower to adopt new technology? 

Gen Y, they’re online 28% more than Gen X and 50% more than Boomers. That’s me.

Now, if you get online, you’ve got a huge resource to interact with and learn from. So what does that mean to brokers? I think some of the brokers are going to miss out on the ease and availability of information that’s online. What we’re trying to do through our site is to provide that information. I don’t know that the older generation will take it up as much as younger people will.

Why is education an important topic to discuss at the Crystal Ball? 

Brokers are required to have continuing education credits. What online education does is it gives it to them anytime, anywhere. There’s a convenience factor to it, it’s cheaper because they don’t have to drive somewhere. From an owner/manager’s perspective, it can cut their education costs. From an availability of information perspective, through certain sites, they have access to online information that’s at their fingertips.

It’s important if you want to do your job well, if you want to be better than someone else, if you want to be competitive. The more you know, the better you’re going to be. 

The P&C Crystal Ball will be taking place at the Airport Doubletree Hilton in Toronto on January 24.

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