Kicking off 2023 and my final year as President of the Association was incredibly symbolic not only for our association but the entire Region of Waterloo. We are fortunate to live in a vibrant and cultured corner of SW Ontario where arts, business, innovation, and community can thrive.
Though as the challenges of 2020 are put behind us, there are many new challenges which we face, and we will face them together with our clients. Inflation is higher than many young insurance brokers will have experienced. We rely on the experience of our peers and co-workers to navigate these challenges -- which is an amazing part of our industry. So many of you are prepared to provide guidance within your own brokerage offices and outside of those walls.
As an association of professionals, we are always committed to elevating each other as the tide rises all ships. The discussions and presentations that occur over our monthly meetings simply could not be replicated virtually so it is incredibly important to me and I’m sure everyone else that we are filling banquet halls once again.
Our latest Holiday Party provided many valuable pieces of warm winter clothing to the YW Thrift Store on King Street and 60 meals to the KW Foodbank. Both are great examples of how brokerages within our association will always contribute to bettering the lives of those around us when asked.
Looking at the quarter ahead we have a broker awareness event planned for February 25th at Chicopee Tube Park. This event will promote the broker channel within our Region while bringing community members together for a fun event!
I finally want to thank the members for taking time out of their busy schedules to come to our meetings. We truly have a vibrant association which I am proud to be a part of!
Insurance Brokers Association of Waterloo Region, President
A Note From Our President
I saw a meme on social recently which spelled out the fact that when you write out 2021 a little differently it says:
"Twenty-Twenty-WON". I thought it was a little cheeky, a little funny, and got a chuckle. That little meme stuck with me, whispering in my ear "2020 won!"
After that mulled around in my head a bit, I got a little annoyed. No twenty-twenty didn't win. 2020 gave us a challenge no one expected or prepared for, but it certainly didn't win!
Within days of lockdown, our businesses pivoted to ensure we maintained connection with our customers to ensure we could continue to provide them expert advice and counsel. We moved to home offices, kitchen tables, and card tables to work in homes where our pets and children roamed under foot. We learned Teams and Zoom, and new programs and ways of doing business so that we could continue to care for our customers day after day as they had needs.
While our community shut down, to try to get a hold of this virus, our phones rang off the hook with customers in crisis. We answered those calls with professionalism and care, often dealing with customers who were experiencing devastating loss, and took that out on us.
2020 definitely didn't win. It showed us just how resilient and brilliant the brokerage community is. Thank you for the part that you played in showing our community that brokers step up and remain committed to our customers in the worst of times.
Let me encourage you as you continue to field those calls and work in those difficult situations that we are in this together. Reach out to a friend for encouragement and support. Reach out within this IBAWR community. We are here to support you! 2021 has just begun and from all appearances will be another difficult year, but we are in this together! Don't forget that.
For the February 2021 IBAWR 'What's Up' Edition Newsletter - Click Here
Presidents Report, 2019 - 2020
The last year hasn’t at all been what I expected it to be. I think we would all share that same sentiment. But while it wasn’t as expected, I believe the IBAWR hit the ground running and contributed a lot to our community and to the lives of our members in 2019-2020.
In November we challenged member brokerages to donate IBAO blankets to a blanket drive. We had 6 brokerages participate including: Donovan Insurance, Josslin Insurance, KW Insurance, OTIP, Staeblers Insurance and Zehr Insurance. We donated a total of 240 blankets to YWCA Kitchener.
In December we hosted our annual mitten drive, and collected a record breaking 434 mittens, hats and scarves etc. These items were donated to Pioneer Park Public School in Kitchener which is a school with significant population of underprivileged families.
In March we were challenged by an industry friend to join in raising funds for Go Gold Cambridge in support of a local broker who had lost his young daughter to cancer last year. Through the 50/50 draw at our March meeting, we were able to donate $612 for Go Gold Cambridge in support of childhood cancer research.
In March we also began our first ever IBAWR Fitness Challenge. This was a challenge geared towards raising funds for a charity as well as providing a fun environment to encourage and challenge one another towards better heart health. We had 35 brokers/industry friends participate in the challenge and in spite of entering the Covid-19 lock-down, accumulated a total of 16,180,281 steps. Participants were asked to contribute
towards our donation to ‘Food 4 Kids Waterloo’. That donation amounted to $3,000 and was donated in April, which was an incredibly helpful time for them to receive those funds.
This year we also launched a new opportunity for industry friends to get involved with the IBAWR through Sponsorship. We have gained 11 sponsors for the 2020 - 2021 year, with a revenue of $17,000 annually.
Our sponsors include:
Magenta: Carstar, Economical and Intact
Bronze: Edge Mutual, First Insurance Funding, Halwell Insurance, Heartland Mutual, Insurance Institute and Winmar
I think this is a year we will all be glad to say good-bye to. However, the lessons learned, and wisdom gained will be valuable for years to come. We look forward to 2021 with eagerness to continue providing value to our members and sponsors and the community as a whole.
A Note From Our President
Autumn brings in me an excitement for change as I look forward to re-decorating, cleaning up the gardens and replacing flip-flops with cozy Ugg Boots. It also brings realization that with each passing day, snow and cold gets closer and closer. I’m not a winter person, but I am a person who enjoys change, and the excitement that starting something fresh brings.
This self-realization leads me to wonder if I approach change within our industry as enthusiastically as I do changing seasons. I think it’s fair to say, that as difficult and ever-changing as this year has been in our industry, most years bring a lot of change. In the next season, I aim to embrace the change that we will inevitably see, with a similar enthusiasm as I do to taking a stroll through fallen leaves or seeing the first snow. It’s a chance
to begin something new.
One of the changes the IBAWR is implementing this year is a more robust system for tracking association members. This will help ensure we include all our members in communication and events, facilitating greater value and participation in the association. We will be contacting member brokerages to complete a roster of brokers within their office. To get a jump on this task, you can find the document at www.ibawr.ca (under the Committee Tab). We are eager to provide value to our members and industry partners virtually. We aim to run some contests and fundraisers, host virtual events and seminars, and also provide some more written communication such as this 'What's Up'. If you have any idea’s for us or are interested in joining the Board of Directors, please connect with us through social media or by emailing us at [email protected]
by Shara Bierman, FCIP, CAIB
For the October 2020 IBAWR What's Up Edition Newsletter - Click Here
A message from our President, Shara Bierman:
To say it has been a challenging year, would not only be an understatement, but also an echo of just about every communication you’ve received in the last 6 months. With Covid numbers on the rise, and uncertainty about the future, we have made the decision to cancel the regular in-person IBAWR events planned for the remainder of the 2020 year.
We intend to have a virtual AGM on Thursday November 5th. Your attendance is really important for this event. Please save the date on your calendar for this important meeting. An invite will be sent out at a later date with RSVP information.
Shara Bierman, FCIP, CAIB
The last number of weeks has brought a staggering amount of change to our lives, both personally as well as professionally. It was not quite a month ago when we last met together at Lancaster Smokehouse and enjoyed a mouth-watering meal and an enlightening discussion on Estate Planning. Today, here we are, unable to meet with one another and uncertain as to how the next few weeks and months may unfold.
As such as we unable to gather together for our IBAWR Meeting on April 2nd. Additionally we have made the decision to postpone our Hospitality Night, previously scheduled for May 7th. We had been hoping to bring you the biggest and best Hospitality Night yet, but with the uncertainty we are facing, couldn’t proceed to make those arrangements during this time. The Hospitality Night has been rescheduled for October 1, 2020. Please add that date to your calendar.
I have been so encouraged in the last few weeks to see the innovation in Waterloo Region and beyond, rise up in the face of this difficult challenge. Organizations pivoting to deliver products and services to their customers in new ways that are far outside their comfort zones, has been so inspiring to me. Seeing and hearing how so many Brokerages have hastened to develop and implement crisis plans, and move to action so that customers can continue to be serviced at what might now be, their greatest time of need. That’s something to really be proud of.
On top of all of those changes, each of us is dealing with our own unique challenges as we navigate our way through the obstacles that each day presents. For some this is adjusting to working from home, with kids or pets vying for our attention, and for others it may be the feelings of isolation that are no doubt creeping in. During this time, I hope you would recognize how much we need one another and the unique part that each one of you plays in that. Now is a great time to think about who in our life may need someone to give them a call and check in on them. That may be a client or a neighbor or family member. Maybe we need someone to check-in with us, and if that’s the case, speak up! People are listening. We truly are ‘Stronger Together’, and that means something so uniquely different on this page of history.
While we are doing our best to physically distance from one another, it’s more important than ever to reach out and connect virtually to those around us. That’s why we would love to host an online “Happy Hour” on April 2nd at 6pm in lieu of our regular meeting. If you are interested, would you hop onto our Facebook Page, and let us know you’ll join us, through the survey posted there?
Finally, as you likely know, the charity the IBAWR has chosen to support in 2020 is Food4Kids Waterloo. This organization helps to support thousands of children in Waterloo Region who live with severe food insecurity, by regularly delivering packages of healthy food to their homes and schools. This organization and the children they represent are in significant need with all that is going on right now and could use your financial support. If you are able would you consider donating? Your generosity will make a real difference in the life of a child in our city. Thank you for considering how you might help.
Shara Bierman, FCIP, CAIB
The Smallest Things, Make the Biggest Difference
On Friday afternoon I had the privilege of making a donation on your behalf, to some of the underprivileged children in our community. Did you know that there are children in Waterloo Region that do not have a warm hat or mittens? Thanks to you, many more of them now do - in fact, for many of these children, this will be the first brand new clothing item that they have ever had. I was in tears as the staff described the needs of many of these children, and the impact this donation would have on them and their families. The staff had tears in their own eyes, due to the overwhelming generosity of the Waterloo Region Brokers.
I am extraordinarily proud to share that the Insurance Brokers Association of Waterloo Region donated 434 cold weather items to the school, including: 217 pairs of gloves/mittens, 146 hats, 54 pairs of socks, 13 neck warmers/scarves, 2 coats, and 2 pairs of boots. In addition to that, we also donated 50 fleece IBAO blankets to the school. The donation this year surpassed our largest ever donation, by 156 items, and brought our total accumulated donation of winter wear to 1,429 items.
That was NOT the only amazing donation I was privileged to be a part of last week, if you can believe it. Last week six local brokerages teamed up to make a donation to the YWCA of 240 fleece IBAO blankets. This donation of blankets will help the YWCA to keep the individuals they serve, warm and cozy this winter.
A pair of mittens to you or me, perhaps is just a pair of mittens. To a child who otherwise has none, these mittens mean they can now play in the snow with their friends rather than standing in the corner with their hands in their pockets trying to stay warm. A blanket may mean a good restful night’s sleep. Sometimes the smallest things, make the biggest difference.
This year has been challenging for us as brokers and remains so; however even as a broker, sometimes the smallest things still make the biggest difference. Whether it’s taking that extra time to really hear your client and relate to what they are going through or patiently explaining why your clients’ rates are going up this year, as if they aren’t the thousandth person asking you that question. These little things and others often add up to a significant impact.
And just like that pair of mitts you donated may have been small or unassuming on their own, the combined effort of all of us was huge.
Taking the time for one client, might not seem like much, but accumulated over time, makes an extraordinary impact on your organization, and on our industry as a whole. This season, let’s remember to do even the smallest thing, because the smallest things, often make the biggest difference.
Dear IBAWR Members,
Let me start by saying that I hope all of our members had a fantastic summer! I also wanted to say thank you to all of our brokers and industry friends who attended our October meeting, which was our first meeting since the Hospitality Night in May. With over 110 attendees, this was our best turn out for an October meeting since 2014!
We announced during that meeting that it is the board’s intention to make a change to our tradition of providing a gift to our guest speakers each month. Moving forward we will be making a donation to a charity on their behalf – for the next 12 months that charity will be Food 4 Kids, a charity that makes sure local children do not go through their school day hungry.
Our Board is also pleased to announce that we have been officially confirmed as one of three finalists for this year’s IBAO Affiliate of the Year award, something we are very excited about! This has been due to the support we receive from our broker members, our industry friends and from the hard work that my fellow board members have put in the past few years as we have tried to embrace change on a number of fronts to modernize how we communicate with our members and how we participate within our community! Hopefully we will come back from the IBAO conference with this award in hand!
Next month is our Annual General Members meeting. We would like to encourage brokers who have not attended before, to please come out. This is a great chance to see what your affiliate has planned for the next 12 months, what our efforts over our past 12 months looked like, and it will give everyone a chance to welcome our incoming President, Shara Bierman to her new role as Affiliate President!
We have several changes to address at next month’s meeting, and attending this is the best chance to have meaningful dialogue about our direction (current and future) and to ask direct questions about anything that you may be happy or unhappy with. We have spent considerable resources on improving how we communicate to our membership, but there is no substitute for being able to ask questions in an open floor format!
Thank you again for your support, and I hope to see everyone next month.
All the best,
Dear IBAWR Members,
After a great summer, we are excited to be getting back into the swing of things this fall.
The IBAO Convention is this week, and we hope to see as many local brokers in attendance as possible. It is a great way to network and to keep current with the most pressing issues facing our industry. I hope to see a few of you in Niagara later this week!
As a board, we are looking forward to embracing some new initiatives for this Board year.
Board Member Openings
We have added some new faces over the past year, and they have been doing a great job in their new roles. We also have had some recent turnover and we are hoping to add a new board member in the next few weeks who is able to assist in our Social Media presence. Please reach out to Dianne or myself if you are interested!
Joanna Mendonca continues to pursue new ideas for YBC events. If you are a young broker, come on out to our next events. IBAWR will be budgeting $2,500 this year towards helping building our YBC presence. We have also been fortunate to have industry partner sponsorships as well – so please come out for some free food and drinks to meet some other young broker professionals.
We look forward to seeing an increased turnout to the monthly dinner meetings. We have some interesting speakers lined up for the year and have tried to find topics that can be RIBO accredited.
We are also going to announce a new venue for a one-off. We will announce the venue and the month we will take place shortly, so stay tuned… if anyone has any suggestions, please let us know.
The AGM is in November, and we are hoping for a better turnout than we have witnessed the past few years. This event does include open-bar cocktails, so please make an appearance!
In September Dianne and Kevin Donovan successfully organized another great golf tournament. I wanted to say thank you to each of them for their hard work in setting up that event each year. It is a great time and there were great prizes awarded.
Our Christmas meeting is coming up in December. Each year we have a mitten tree for charity. Last year members donated over 150 pairs of mittens, hats and other warm stuff for the winter to kids in need. We would like to try and top that number this year, so please show up, and bring with you an item to donate to the tree – it is for a great cause.
If you have any questions or comments about anything, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly.
Thank you very much.
Dear IBAWR Members,
The IBAWR has had a busy few months and I thought this would be a good time to update our membership about the activities of the IBAWR the past couple of months. I believe we have made some meaningful progress in several key areas that will be relevant as we move forward as a Board.
Social Media Policy
After launching our new website earlier this year, we also proceeded to focus on our Twitter and Facebook pages as a primary means of communicating with our members. We realized that in order to stay on message and maintain a focus on our core mandate, that a Social Media policy was going to be necessary both for our immediate needs, and as a template for future board members to maintain consistency.
We have since voted to implement a Social Media policy that will keep our content, simple and focused on material that is relevant to promoting the broker channel and on our community participation.
Board of Directors Personnel Chances
We have also had quite a few changing faces on our Board of Directors:
Pat Pearl and Tam Good have both announced their retirement after many years of participation as board members, and I wanted to take the opportunity to thank both of them for their years of dedication to the Board.
Darcy Franko-Felice has also stepped down from the Board, as she has decided to pursue a never career path outside of the affiliate territory. Thank you Darcy for donating your time and effort to the Board for the past couple years, we appreciate it!
We are excited to announce that we will be adding two new board members to help fill the holes left behind by our departing members. Sydni Felice will be taking over Social Media Committee responsibilities and Richard Zehr will be taking over the Education Committee. Both are young brokers and we are excited to add them to the Board. A big thanks to each of them for volunteering their time.
Joanna Mendonca assumed YBC Committee responsibilities in March 2018. Since that time YBC has hosted two of the most successful local YBC events there have been in years. In March, there was a St. Patty’s themed event hosted at McCabe’s in Kitchener. Then, on May 25 another event was hosted at Rustico. Both events had over 20 brokers come out, and both were a great time. Engaging young brokers has been a goal of the Board and Joanna has done a great job in the role so far!
Habitat for Humanity Broker Build Day
As many of you know, one of my goals has been to engage and mobilize our membership for more community and charitable causes. In 2017 we had our first Broker Build day with Habitat for Humanity and with $7,700 in donations raised and 240 hours of labour contributed, we felt it was quite successful!
On May 22nd and 23rd this year, we hosted our second annual Broker Build, and we are thrilled to announce that the event raised $17,610.00 for Habitat for Humanity. In addition to that, our volunteers contributed 200 hours of time at the build site as well. I wanted to thank the following sponsors of this event for their generous donations:
- IBAO / IBAWR – Platinum Sponsor
- Northbridge / Staebler Insurance – Platinum Sponsors
- Gore Mutual – Platinum Sponsor
- Advocate Insurance – Gold Sponsor
- Encore Insurance Services – Gold Sponsor
- OTIP – Silver Sponsor
- Insurance Institute – Bronze Sponsor
This event exceeded our expectations and we hope that everyone who volunteered and donated had a great time. We appreciate the support and believe that is for a great cause – please check out the pictures on Twitter and Facebook.
Hospitality / Meet the Underwriter Night
Our annual Hospitality Night was hosted at Bingeman’s on May 3rd. We had a great turnout, with over 220 members and industry friends attending the event. I wanted to thank Shara Bierman, Dianne Monteiro and Danny Marceau for their hard work to make this event a success. I also wanted to thank all of our vendors for donating prizes and all of our other guests for coming out for a good time!
Our next event will not be until our annual Golf Tournament in September, I hope all of our members have a great summer, and we look forward to seeing you in the fall.
If you have any questions or comments about anything, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly.
Thank you very much.
Dear IBAWR Members,
As many of you have probably noticed, our Board of Directors have been taking steps to modernize how we communicate with our membership.
Last Spring, we decided to undertake the process of creating a completely new, and much improved IBAWR website as our central tool that would help us communicate more effectively with our membership and our community.
We also made the difficult decision to end the paper format of our monthly bulletin. In its place, however, we proudly launched the new, mobile friendly site in February 2018.
We are also taking steps to utilize social media (please ‘Like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter) to engage our membership and the community in new and relevant ways.
This transition has not been easy, as it is completely new territory for our Board, however we recognized that to maximize our relevance within our existing membership and to actively encourage new members to join that we needed to embrace change.
As part of our commitment to these changes, two of our current Board members (Darcy Franko-Felice and Jason Lawson) together form our newly created committee for Social Media and Public Relations. Our goal is that establishing this committee will ensure the Board’s commitment to embracing social media and other evolving communication mediums.
Now to switch gears:
While we continue to advocate on behalf of our members and on the benefits of the broker channel, I believe that one of the best ways to help ourselves as IBAWR members is by continuing to find new ways to be visible and generous community partners within our Region. We are very fortunate to have a large and engaged group of members and loyal industry friends. I believe that mobilizing our membership to give back to our community can make a positive impact for a variety of great, local causes and also strengthen the relationships within our own membership, as well as reinforce to the public that IBAWR members are integral partners in our community.
With that being said, we hope this year to have an even more successful Habitat for Humanity Build Event. Last year we were able to raise $7,700 towards Habitat for Humanity, and we also contributed 240 hours of actual physical participation at the build site! It was a great turnout of support.
We believe that we can we exceed both of those figures this year. We will be sending out formal details for this year’s event later this month.
Lastly, I wanted to thank both Scott Heaman (now our Past President) and Mary Riberdy for their contributions to the IBAWR that have helped get us to where we are.
Thank you very much.
IBAWR will be participating in the 2018 Habitat for Humanity Build Event on May 22nd and 23rd, 2018. For further information regarding the event, participation, and donations, please click here.
This March, the IBAWR donated 40 Bipper Blankets to the KW Humane Society to help keep the animals warm this winter!