No risk, no gain: How Trade Risk founder Shane Moore almost threw in the towel

Today, specialist insurance broker Trade Risk is doing well for founder Shane Moore. Only three years old, it’s turning over $100,000 a month, employs five people, and is looking to bring in more.

But the dream almost ended before it started for Moore, who tried and couldn’t support himself on the business he was bringing in. He threw in the towel in 2011 and took a job in a corporate firm, but lasted only six weeks.

He told Myriam Robin why he decided he wasn’t ready to give it up, and what his hopes for Trade Risk are now.

We offer insurance for tradesmen. We look after two sides – the insurance brokers who look after the business side, and a financial adviser who helps people with personal insurance and a little bit of superannuation.

It began when I was working for a financial services company called Millennium 3 in 2010. I was going out and doing audits on financial advice practices, reviewing their processes and what-not to make sure they were doing the right thing compliance-wise. I noticed a lot of these financial advisers made very poor use of technology, both in their internal processes and with client acquisition. So, I thought that’d be a good opportunity.

I went out on my own, and a few months in, I thought, ‘I probably won’t make my living doing this’. I wasn’t meeting my financial goals, and was referring leads to others for commission or a flat fee because I had more leads than I could handle. At that point, a position came up within a financial institution. I worked there six weeks and I realised it wasn’t quite time to give up yet.

It wasn’t what I expected. After struggling with the business for a while, I thought it’d be great to go back and work for someone else again. Go in, do my job, get paid every fortnight. That was the attraction. But after getting in there, I was pretty quickly reminded of how some of these places work.

They don’t seem to be open to any sort of innovation unless it comes from people they’ve gone out and hired for that specific purpose. Businesses can be very close-minded I guess. And I don’t think it was that particular business that was the problem – I think it’s just the case with all large, established businesses.

So I went back to Trade Risk. I kept referring leads for a while through a commission-split arrangement, and sometimes for a flat fee. But then, I got together with one of the financial advisers I was referring leads to and we realised we should take it in-house.

TradeRisk is doing great now. In terms of premium sales, we’re doing over $100,000 a month. It’s been a massive turnaround from me trying to do everything myself. We now have financial advisers, customer administration staff, and I get to concentrate on what I do best. We do more in a month now than it would take a year for me to do when I was on my own.

We want to be the most recognisable insurance group for tradies. That’s our big goal. Tradies are pretty neglected when it comes to business insurance, particularly by brokers. They’re seen as a client group who don’t bring in a lot of revenue in terms of insurance premiums. And sometimes, in terms of making their payments, they can be not the best. But we found that by specialising in looking after these guys we know what works for them and what doesn’t, and they seem to appreciate that.

A big part of our focus is education, and we do a lot of that through our website. It contains a lot of articles that we put out there about the benefits of insurance for these guys. They see it as something they have to get for their licence, or to show the business or construction companies. So we’re really trying to take it from something they need but don’t know much about, to something that’s an investment in their business.

These days, pretty much everyone who finds us does it online. About 90% of our clients search for us on Google. So our main role is to make sure we do rank well. And we do that by creating great content.

We’ve wasted a bit of money in the time on offline advertising in the past, on things like Yellow Pages and the like. They told us how many people would see our ads, and on those numbers it made sense. But the actual results weren’t what they said they would be in terms of call volumes, and the conversion rates on those numbers were less than the leads that came from Google.

I think a lot of people don’t really understand how tradies look for insurance. They don’t see an ad in a magazine and think, ‘I should take out some business insurance’. Someone will tell them to take it out, and then they’ll go straight to Google.

A lot of people in the insurance industry are scared of content marketing. There are so many rules around what we can and can’t say, and people are scared their content will be seen as financial advice. Because I have a background in compliance, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I can and can’t say, without crossing the line. We provide general advice and it’s worked well for us.

It’s changing now. A lot of the heads of compliance in large companies are getting their heads around it. But we’ve had a couple of years’ head start, and so we continue to rank above companies that are far larger than us.


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