Liam Carberry retires as President of Brokers Ireland in September this year. His 22 year service includes three terms on the PIBA/Brokers Ireland boards of directors, four years as Chairman/ President over three terms and service on countless subcommittees.
He is known the length and breadth of the country by Brokers Ireland members.
The epitome of the original Financial Broker with integrity and commitment, in this article, Liam reflects with Diarmuid Kelly, CEO of Brokers Ireland on his remarkable journey in the Broker community over the last 22 years.
LIAM, it is quite a CV. You have been 35 years as a Financial Adviser/Broker, what key things would you advise someone coming into the business?
There are 3 key things I would recommend to someone joining the business:
1. Remember the mission is to protect the client should he/ she live too long, die too soon or get sick in between.
2. Develop your listening skills. The client will only be impressed with your expertise if they feel heard and understood.
3. Make good friends and contacts in companies and Brokers. A good network helps you navigate the ups and downs of business life.
Can I ask why did you put so much time into PIBA and Brokers Ireland and what did you get back from that?
For me it was never a chore. I enjoyed reading about and analysing the current trends in our profession. I always enjoyed debating these issues and what to do about them with my Broker colleagues on the Board and I think we made a real difference to Brokers with our work.
What would you see as good Board skills?
I think you need five core skills for effective Boards:
1. Good listening (to what is being said and not said).
2. Ability to evaluate the topic being discussed.
3. Ability to make hard decisions and raise unpopular topics.
4. Maintain good corporate governance.
5. Be inclusive of all Board members.
What would you see as the key changes over the last 22 years?
Undoubtedly regulation is number one, with Central Bank regulation of Brokers having started in 2001. Regulation has improved the professionalism of our business but I think everyone agrees the pendulum has gone too far and overregulation and disproportionate regulation is one of our top lobbying priorities. I think the Brokers Ireland compliance services plays a vital role in supporting members in this area.
Commission is back as an area of debate. Brokers Ireland successfully lobbied on this in 2019 but it is back for review with the Retail Investment Strategy.
The life agency agreements were vital in giving Financial Brokers ownership and control over their business.
The Financial Broker project has given Brokers a professional status and a platform to promote the value of Financial Broker advice at a national level.
These are just some of the key initiatives over the last 20 years.
I think we can be proud of the fact that we have created a unified professional voice for Insurance and Financial Brokers and an organisation that advocates for our profession.
The merger between PIBA and IBA
You were Chairman of PIBA in 2006 when the first “real” merger talks started. What are your thoughts on that and the eventual merger in 2017?
Alan Flynn, the IBA President at the time, approached PIBA and I remember thinking we could do business with him. It took a long road to achieve the eventual merger in 2017 but when we look back I think it was worth the setbacks and anguish along the way.
We have created a modern, well equipped and unified organisation that serves all Brokers in Ireland. I have no doubt the profession will thrive for decades to come and Brokers Ireland will be at the forefront of ensuring members can adapt and flourish in that journey. Above all else, it is a major source of pride that I contributed to this in my various roles over the last 20 years.
I would like to give thanks and credit to my wife Antoinette. Her support and encouragement made a huge difference to my business career and together we always prioritised family. I would also like to thank the huge number of people who have helped and supported me in my career and in my roles within PIBA and Brokers Ireland.
Liam’s thought for each day (extract from the Franciscan Prayer)
“And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in the world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done, to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.”
Liam, the person
- Married to Antoinette, 3 children, 5 grandchildren.
- Born April 1950 – 73 years young.
- Best investment – his family.
- Lives in Sutton, Dublin 13 (office is 2 minutes drive away)
- Studied industrial relations and corporate governance.
- Took up Taekwondo and achieved a 4th degree back belt. He coached the national team and was the manager of the national team on their trip to New Zealand in 2011.
- Served on parent’s councils with St Fintan’s secondary school and the Christian Brothers parent’s council becoming President of the latter.
- Took over and ran an optical manufacturing business 1978-88
- National Mutual / Friends First 1988-2001 (self employed financial adviser)
- Financial Broker 2001 – present (self employed Financial Broker – trades as Liam Carberry Financial Planning Services)
- Joined PIBA 2001. Joined Board of PIBA 2002.
- Became Chairman of PIBA 2006/7 term.
- Stepped down from the Board in 2008 (served on subcommittee).
- Rejoined the Board of PIBA 2009.
- Became Chairman of PIBA 2012-14 (2 year term)
- 2014 stepped down from Board, served on subcommittee
- 2017 joined the first Board of Brokers Ireland following merger
- 2022/23 served as President of Brokers Ireland
- 2006-8 Served on Central Bank’s Industry Consultative Panel
- 2014-2020 Served as Director of ICCL
Reflections of colleagues
Ciaran Blackall (Immediate Past President 2020-22 Brokers Ireland): “I first met Liam when we served together on the PIBA board, in 2012 Liam was Chairman at the time, and he proved a very effective and disciplined Board Chairman.
Liam is honest, straightforward and never afraid to speak his mind (in fact he’s never afraid of anything!).
I have come to respect Liam over our years of working closely together, so much so that I asked him to be Vice President during my Presidency.
Liam has proven himself to be a very valuable member of Brokers Ireland over his long tenure, and I for one will be sad to see the back of his many talents and valuable experience.
He is truly unreplaceable.”
Richie Cotter (Nominated next President of Brokers Ireland AGM September 2023): “I only got to know Liam since the creation of Brokers Ireland, but over our time together on the Board I have really enjoyed his sense of humour (especially in relation to my often-casual attire!).
He is a man of great integrity with a real interest in people and giving back to our community. Liam will be missed.” Rachel McGovern (PIBA since 2000 and Director of Financial Services Brokers Ireland): “When Liam joined the board of PIBA, he expressed a real desire to give back and to better the Brokering profession.
From day one, you could see Liam was a true professional, always putting his client’s needs first and driving the length and breadth of the country to give them a dedicated and personal service. I’ve always admired Liam’s compassionate nature and banter with everyone that he meets.
It has been a privilege to work with someone who’s so passionate about our industry and who has made a tremendous difference to our association.
Liam, best of luck for the future and thank you for your continued support!
CEO note. “Liam, on behalf of PIBA and Brokers Ireland members, fellow directors and staff I wanted to thank you sincerely for your long and dedicated contribution to the organization and passion for SME Brokers throughout Ireland.
Your deep understanding and appreciation for the practical issues facing Brokers always helped keep us on point and I always found your judgement sound.
Liam intends to continue service on a subcommittee. We wish him health and happiness in his non retirement.”