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Brokers mourn Graham Stevens

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Tributes from across the insurance industry are flowing following the death on Friday of prominent broker Graham Stevens, who was described today as “a man with an enormous zest for life”.

Gary Seymour, whose close friendship with Mr Stevens saw them work together in several broking ventures, told insuranceNEWS.com.au that Mr Stevens, who died at the age of 68 after a battle with cancer, was proud of his achievements in the industry.

“He was reflective rather than regretful in his last months,” Mr Seymour said. “He was a boy from Preston [a working-class suburb in Melbourne] who was proud of what he’d achieved. It was a life well-lived, but alas over too soon.”

Mr Stevens, who was commonly known in the industry by his nickname “Bear”, began his career at GRE Insurance in Melbourne before setting up his own brokerage, GJ Stevens Insurance Services, in 1981.

A few years later he joined with Mr Seymour to set up GIS. That company later merged with British broker Bradstock to become Bradstock GIS, which grew through the 1980s and 1990s until the partners sold it to global broker Willis in 2000.

Mr Stevens was National Affinity Manager for Willis Australia until 2007 before setting up Edgewise Insurance Brokers with Mr Seymour and several other brokers in 2009. The brokerage now has around 70 employees.

“Graham was a big influence in the success of Edgewise,” Mr Seymour said. “But just as importantly, he was a big influence on broking and brokers.”

Mr Stevens’ services to broking included 12 years as a board member of Steadfast before its public float in 2013, after which he became a member of the Steadfast Foundation board.

He was a member of the National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA) board and was elected President of NIBA in 2014, serving in the post for two years. He was also elected as President of the World Federation of Insurance Intermediaries – the global body for insurance brokers – a position he held for two years.

“The thing about Bear was that he was across all types of people, from the people at the top to the young people just starting out,” Mr Seymour told insuranceNEWS.com.au. “He was always generous with his time and a mentor to so many brokers.

“He had an enormous zest for life and gave his time to anyone who needed his advice. He believed in doing everything possible to advance young people in their broking careers.”

NIBA CEO Phil Kewin told insuranceNEWS.com.au Mr Stevens was “a true gentleman”.

“Not only was he always looking after his clients’ interests, but was instrumental as a role model and mentor for younger brokers,” he said.

“A dedicated servant to NIBA and its members, Graham or “Bear” as they called him, will be sorely missed.”

Mr Stevens is survived by his wife Norma, daughters Rachael and Melinda and two grand-daughters. A private funeral will be followed in the next few weeks by a celebration of his life. insuranceNEWS.com.au will publish details when they become available.