IE caught up with the Future of Insurance Broking session on Day One at BIBA2021, and thought we would bring you a few highlights;
The webinar, hosted by Ashwin Mistry OBE from Brokerbility worked through several questions and topics.
On resilience, a current buzzword in the insurance industry, Julie Page, CEO at Aon UK noted;
“When we ask `how can we prepare for the next pandemic or event?’ I would turn that outwards and ask, `how can we prepare our clients better for unexpected events?’ We are a resilient industry, although the pandemic has brought us to a higher level of match fitness if you like.
Julie added; “Also, the pandemic has shown us and other brokers than productivity and presentee-ism at the office are two separate things. I hope that a hybrid work/office model will help us keep those wins.”
Ian Donaldson, CEO at Atlanta Group, offered some insights into the speed of change in the broker sector;
“We have moved from telephone enquiries to webchat, from office hours to becoming a 24/7 insurance product. By that I don’t mean that we are staffing offices round-the-clock, but customers have an expectation now that there will be a response, or a way for them to do some admin online 24/7. Don’t think for a moment that digital products simply appeal to younger consumers either, because at Atlanta we have customers aged 17 to 117. Older people can learn these skills and want things to work smoothly online too.”
On the changes caused by the pandemic in particular, Ian added,
“We have noticed that our staff are spending more time on phone calls, showing great empathy to policyholders and as an industry we have to accept that and learn from it. We have really listened to customers this year and tried to give them what they want.”
On the subject to broker consolidation, Ian noted;
“Atlanta is a growth enabler, so in terms of acquisitions we always look for areas where we can grow a particular niche or business. It could be that consolidation brings a new work culture, new opportunities. We always look for new ways to improve an existing business.”
Phil Barton, CEO at Partners& expanded on the consolidation issue, which most brokers now see as something of a feeding frenzy with M&A activity at an all-time high.
“2020 saw record levels of mergers and acquisitions. Consolidation can deliver better services to clients, overhaul work cultures and more. Much of the UK broker market remains quite fragmented in many areas, it’s still a very varied market. Some brokers want to hang up their boots, others want to expand or modernise and need a partner to achieve those aims. But there is a danger of moving things too fast, of the whole process becoming a scale-up play. There’s a risk that assets are being over-valued. That can lead to a situation where the finance used to buy businesses is being repaid by the customers eventually. You don’t want to simply scale up something at the expense of clients.”
Phil also noted;
“Many brokerages are now finance re-engineers, rather than brokers. The key thing to consider is that trust and relationships are crucial in insurance and we must never let mergers allow us to lose sight of that.”