By: Morné Stoltz, MiWay Head of Brokers
Brokers face a growing number of challenges, and to stay profitable and competitive they need to know how to overcome them. Admin, compliance and other routine tasks reduce the time brokers can spend on servicing existing clients and securing new ones. Smart brokers can use the changes prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic to work smarter.
These challenges can seem daunting. They include competition from other brokers, increasing regulation aimed at enforcing good governance and ethical business practices, the time and money taken in driving to see clients or talking to them. The biggest drain on their resources is arguably the relentless tsunami of back-office admin. Quoting, processing claims, and payments are an integral part of a broker’s day, but they all consume time, as does fulfilling essential compliance obligations.
One promising solution lies in the growing take-up of digital technologies in insurance. Until now many brokers have remained committed to the old-fashioned face-to-face encounter for servicing their clients. The COVID-19 crisis has forced brokers, along with everybody else, to adopt digital channels for all communication. It is often said that it takes 21 days to establish a habit – and the end of the lockdown period will see brokers, their principals and their clients all habituated to a much more digital way of doing things. The impact on brokers’ time should be hugely positive.
However, working remotely can be unnerving if you have never done it before. It takes practice and time to get comfortable with the technology. It is important to find out which technology tools work best for you and your clients. You could try Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, Whereby.com and even WhatsApp – each work well and offer distinct benefits.
For brokers who have never used online tools, switching to these communication platforms will be something of a baptism of fire. But once you are comfortable with using technology, it would be smart to investigate how to use it in other facets of the business to reduce costs and promote better use of time.
The MiWay broker portal aims to streamline all interactions, making it easier and quicker for partner brokers to generate their own quotes or to prompt the broker call centre to complete the process.
The call centre completes the underwriting process with the client, supplies the documentation and then undertakes all the subsequent administration, including retention and claims. A huge saving of time and energy that brokers can redirect into more profitable work.
The possibilities of technology do not end there, it can be used to share information with clients more easily and so assist in building a deeper relationship with them. The growing range of cloud-based services can also be used to access help in completing many administrative and accounting tasks, from personal assistants to bookkeeping and financial reports. The range of services that can be purchased on a monthly basis, thus avoiding heavy costs in time and management related to full-time employees, is growing all the time.
Technology also makes it possible to tap into a world of part-time resources, thus eliminating office and other overheads. Be warned, though: managing remote workers is a distinct skill that needs to be acquired.
It is hard to predict exactly where technology will take us next. But one thing is for certain, smart brokers should be keeping up with technology as a way to overcome their challenges and gain a competitive edge.