The Underwriting Agencies Council’s 18th annual Sydney Underwriting Expo attracted record numbers.

The 435 brokers attending registered for the first time via an event app that enabled them to scan a minimum of 25 exhibitors’ QR codes to be in the draw to win UAC’s travel prize and get CPD points.

There were 86 exhibitors.

 Austbrokers Businsure National Manager, Sydney-based Martin Roberts, won the broker prize – $5,000 of travel vouchers.

Martin initially thought UAC’s phone call, after his name was randomly selected from among eligible brokers, was a prank. “You’re joking,” he said.

Assured the call was real, he was ecstatic. “My wife and I have been talking about having a family vacation at Christmas, maybe to Fiji, so this works out well.” Martin, Nadine and the three Roberts children will enjoy a holiday before year end, courtesy of UAC.

At the Expo lunch, UAC chair Lyndon Turner said the “extraordinary growth” of the agencies sector in the past six months was because brokers “are voting with their feet”. He acknowledged UAC’s strong partnership with NIBA and the “challenges we face together in an advocacy role”.

NIBA CEO Dallas Booth agreed the two organisations took “a united voice to Canberra and the regulators”. He congratulated UAC on the Sydney Expo’s success, saying the expos were a critical feature of the world of intermediated insurance but the UAC-NIBA relationship was broader than just the expos.

QBE’s Jason Clarke, representing UAC’s newest strategic underwriting partner, said it was “great to see the enthusiasm in the room”. The agency sector was meeting industry challenges by being innovative and addressing emerging risks.

Guest speaker, mountaineer Andrew Lock, said mountaineering “isn’t worth dying for, but it’s worth risking dying for”.

He related tales of the many 8,000m-plus peaks he has climbed.

Andrew said taking paying clients up Mt Everest was an emerging risk because they had expectations of success, having paid a lot of money.

“Our attitude to risk is based on perception. We must embrace uncertainty and adapt to changing circumstances. We must understand the difference between fear and genuine threats and dangers.”

Andrew’s successful climb to “the big E’s summit” was achieved on a second attempt with a group of climbers who were “empowered and took a positive attitude to risk”.

Initially, they had insufficient rope to climb the final 100m and had to turn back. But, after two days’ rest, they returned and Andrew fulfilled a 15-year dream to reach the pinnacle of the world’s highest mountain.

UAC’s next Expo is in Hobart on Wednesday 22 March.