earlybird
Ryan Spettigue

Catching the Worm

Ryan Spettigue is a self-professed early-bird, always in bed by 9pm to manage his 5am start and workout at the gym, before getting to work by 7am. “I remember reading an article that mentioned many successful people wake up at 5am and get their fitness in early, despite their work demands,” says Ryan. “I think that’s important and something I’ll always try to do. You need a few hobbies or interests outside the office to keep you sane.” 

Emulating the work habits of the world’s business leaders has propelled this young leader along a path he aspired to as an adolescent growing up in Singapore. “We moved there as a family when I was 10 and I was lucky to be surrounded by a lot of successful people, not only within the insurance industry but within the financial sector.”

"I remember from the age of 15 or so meeting a group of young professionals in their early to mid 20s who’d been transferred from London to Singapore for their work, and that was very inspiring."

Ryan moved back to Australia after Year 12 and completed a Bachelor of Business degree at Macquarie University. He’d set his sights on commercial sales or valuation in real estate but, after a stint at the Reserve Bank of Australia during his university degree, he struggled to find the work meaningful. It was through advice from family and friends that he eventually surrendered to his father’s field and workplace – ACE Insurance. “I’d resisted insurance because dad was the regional CFO and was fairly office-bound,” he says. “I hadn’t realised how varied and people-oriented underwriting would be.” 

Ryan says he loves the risk assessment, underwriting and client relations required in his role. “One day I might be looking at quite a benign risk, but the next day I could be looking at the risks of a mine with any number of people kilometres above or under the ground, so the versatility and importance in terms of what I see and analyse is great.”

When Ryan talks about the mine risk, you get the sense that he takes the responsibilities of the insurer quite personally and that this may be a key to his success at ACE (Ryan has catapulted himself into the top two per cent of all ACE underwriters in NSW in just three years). He says, however, that this level of commitment is common among his colleagues. “Our main purpose is to provide a solution and a support system to clients, so I think a lot of my colleagues have a real sense of helping people,” he says. 

Ryan speaks enthusiastically about his colleagues, saying he has felt nothing but mutual support at ACE. “There’s only so much you can do on your own, so it comes down to support,” he says. “I think you need to be comfortable asking for help in a workplace and be quick to provide it. I’m fortunate that the culture at ACE is so good. The great thing about the industry is the people you meet.” 

ACE has also been a good environment for Ryan to show some initiative. “I think life is a bit wasted if you sit back so I always try and jump forward and put my hand up for things,” he says. “I think it’s important to try to make a difference in a workplace and keep your goals in mind all the time.” It’s no surprise that Ryan increased his service to the industry – and his workload – by stepping up for the role of NSW Committee Member for Young Insurance Professionals (YIPS). The commitment involves fortnightly meetings and sub-committee meetings to organise annual seminars and networking events. “It’s been a great opportunity to work with young professionals in the industry. I’ve met underwriters, brokers, reinsurers, lawyers… It creates a really good support network.” 

Also great for networking, says Ryan, has been his membership with ANZIIF. “The networking side of ANZIIF is great. There are multiple aspects to ANZIIF. The training and development it offers are also fantastic. I’ve done quite a bit of training with ANZIIF over the last four years and it’s a great way to understand insurance and keep abreast of changes, which is important,” he says, “as I think technology will become more prevalent in the industry.” 

Does this mean there will be greater automation and more robot voices at the end of phone lines instead of human brokers? “I think things will become more electronic-based but hopefully there is still a personal approach,” he says. “I think that’s essential in insurance. Computers can only provide a certain level of analysis and comfort, especially when every situation is different.”

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