This week Insurance Age officially launched a brand new event - e-broking. It aims to bring together brokers, insurers and technology/software providers to try to clear up some of the misconceptions around electronic trading i.e. it's not about man against machine but about making the industry as a whole and businesses individually more effective.
Interest is high and despite the fact that e-trading in the commercial market has been talked about for nearly 20 years there is still some reticence towards it in the broker market.
Why is that? Well I've brought it up with several industry players over the last couple of months and a few different theories have emerged but I'd like to focus on two.
The first has it that broker managers and business owners are all for it. They can see the cost and time benefits that e-trading brings but the enthusiasm tends to stop there.
There seems to be an issue in getting those individuals who are actually placing the business to use these systems as they appear to fear that the 'machines' will render them obsolete.
This can only be a result of ignorance so perhaps those business owners and managers that are really embracing the concept of e-trading need to spend more time educating their staff and removing some of the fear.
The second, and more worrying theory, is that there are brokers out there that fear being 'exposed' by e-trading. This theory, which I hope is baseless, has it that these brokers offer little more than securing a quote and fear that once the customer understand that their broker is effectively using slightly more sophisticated aggregator to get quotes, then the client will simply do it themselves.
I should point out that this theory did not come from one individual but from various sources. Btu it really does worry me that there are brokers out there who offer nothing to their client but a quote.
When the market is more focussed on professionalism than it has been for some time, brokers that are simply churning out quotes and offer nothing in terms of risk management or any consultative advice, are doing the rest of the market a great disservice.
And not only that, if these brokers are opposed to e-trading as they see it as a risk to their business, then progress is going to be hindered even more than it has been already.
As I say, I hope this theory is wrong and that these brokers are few and far between but my gut instinct tells me not to be so optimistic.
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