How can brokers stay relevant?

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Having made the move from insurer to broker, Mark Cliff explains how the innovative entrepreneurs in the broking sector can survive and thrive

There have been plenty of Cassandras in our industry prophesying the decline and eventual demise of broking, but that day is yet to come to pass. A few months after crossing the dividing line between insurer and broker, I am hugely optimistic that insurance broking will thrive and prosper, from the top 20 behemoths to the independents in our high streets. 

In my newish role as the executive chairman of Brightside, a top 20 personal lines broker, we have been focused on getting the business into shape after a tough few months, and ‘broker relevance’ has been at the heart of our management team debate. Our conclusion: it’s all down to knowing your customer.

Customers are ever more savvy about their insurance needs, and to stay relevant, we brokers must make sure we are as close to understanding those needs as possible. This is especially true in niches. Take our van business. Our van team really know their stuff. They are van mad. They know their models and their modifications. They talk ‘fluent van’ with our customers who appreciate that knowledge and who trust the advice they are given. Relevance requires profound customer knowledge. 

Relevance also requires brokers to be tech savvy. Nowadays, customers (especially younger ones) would prefer to lose their right hand before leaving their smartphone at home. The result is that customers are buying their stuff differently, (they spent £52bn online last year), including in financial services. Technology means customers want convenience. They want instant insurance cover that meets their needs at a sensible price. We brokers must ensure our tech can plug into customers’ tech. If we understand how customers use technology (and make sure our systems deliver), we will stay relevant.

I have crossed over from insurance into broking, and I’m not the only one. There is a steady stream of insurance people attracted by the cut and thrust of broking. And I believe this is also key to its future relevance. Broking attracts some of the cleverest, most innovative entrepreneurs in our industry. Really smart people. People who can see the future, and shape the future. The entrepreneurial spirit in broking and among brokers will keep our sector relevant.”

Mark Cliff, executive chairman of Brightside

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