Bob Tisdale—Adapt, Evolve & Change—40 Years of Staying Relevant
Erin Hough, Membership Coordinator, IBAO
Over the last 40 years Bob Tisdale, President & COO of Pembridge Insurance, has made an impact on both the insurance industry and the broker channel.
Bob started in insurance when he was in high school. Liberty Mutual had opened a production office in Peterborough where he was hired as an Auto Rating Clerk for $6,325 a year in 1978. From Liberty Mutual he became a Junior Auto Underwriter in Toronto where he could finish his grade 13 in the evenings and continue working in the industry. During one of his insurance courses, a peer who worked for a specialty Commercial insurer convinced him to apply. That company would later become Pembridge Insurance. He started August 18th, 1980. Bob’s witnessed the industry evolve in many ways. “At the time I started everyone said, That’s the end of humans in insurance, everything will be computerized. But that just wasn’t the case. “New types of coverage have emerged that we would never have dreamed of. Look at everything that’s going on with cyber, security breaches and privacy. We’re going to have to continuously adapt products as we see more autonomous vehicles, ride sharing, property sharing. This industry has been around for 400 years. We’ve shown our ability to adapt.” A prevalent theme throughout his career has been changing in order to remain relevant. “If you’re passionate about something, you have to be able to drive value for others. If your company wants to survive, you’ve got to remain relevant. It’s great to be a specialist but be prepared to let it go when it’s no longer relevant. You have to change the environment, not wait for the environment to adapt to you.”
If you’re passionate about something, you have to be able to drive value for others.
The broker channel is something Bob is extremely passionate about. “I believe brokers are the best distribution system. They’re the ones that really drive value for customers because they offer advice, advocacy and choice. There’s a lot of things that brokers do that I personally value, like the fact they’re so involved in their communities. Successful brokers are focused on the future and driven to adapt. “When Pembridge sold to Allstate in 1998, we took a company that built its brand off their agent business and had them invest in the broker channel. Even though Allstate owns the customer relationship through their agency channel, we created Pembridge where brokers own the customer relationship and put a different club in the broker’s bag.” His advice for young brokers is to be patient. “It’s not the type of business where in the first 6 months you’re going to be hitting 20 home runs. There are skills you’re going to learn that take time. You can accelerate by putting more time in and continuing your education.” Bob will retire on August 18th—his 40th anniversary at Pembridge. “The big reason for retiring is to become more flexible, to be able to travel. I’ll spend a month touring Eastern Canada, trekking, which I’ve been doing a lot of over the last few years. I’m hoping to stay active in the industry by becoming an advisor at Pembridge, consulting on different projects and potentially joining a board.” Bob’s not only made an impact on the broker channel but has shown that hard work, adaptability and using skills you’ve learned to remain relevant can lead to a very successful and rewarding career.
Bob Tisdale (seated leftmost) participating in the CEO Panel at the 99th Annual IBAO Convention.
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