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Broker Week 2022: Digitalising broker efficiency

Digital world

Brokers are embracing the opportunity to benefit from digitalising their business. According to insurance-broker-software specialists Applied System’ digital technology adoption survey in 2021 there was an 11% increased uptake of mobile applications by employees compared to prior years, as more firms enabled their teams to connect to management systems remotely, improving flexibility.

The survey also found that having a management system has become standard practice for most brokers, with an adoption rate of nearly 100% reported by respondents.  Broken down 81% of brokers use their management system for accounting and financial reporting and 76% like to log on to see what’s happening across all departments in one place.

But the survey also revealed that management systems still need to be used to their full potential. Less than a quarter (24%) are currently using integrated SMS messaging in their systems, which means that brokers may be missing out on some connectivity benefits.

While much progress has been made to date, the process of becoming a fully digital business takes time to happen. And it’s not just a matter of some digital facilities remaining unexplored. Brokers are continuing with traditional ways and methods of undertaking some tasks – for instance, relying on manual processes for some stages of the sales cycle. So, some business functions may operate digitally, but others lag behind.

This can be frustrating for everyone, including the ‘digital natives’ within the business, who have grown up in a digital world and are unused to doing things any other way.

As Alex Potts, head of digital innovation at Bridge Insurance Brokers, says: “Younger generations are undoubtedly more tech-savvy; they have grown up with phones and tablets as part of their daily routine, so the need for employers to have digital platforms is increasing as these digitally informed younger generations come into the world of work.”

Therefore, recruiting and retaining these employees is a high priority for the insurance sector, but it can be challenging. According to Deloitte’s Insurance Industry Outlook for 2022, nearly half (43%) of its survey respondents said it was getting harder to recruit, especially in IT. However, the report suggests that building a more enhanced digital insurance organisation could be a solution for attracting those at the start of their working life – further highlighting that it could be beneficial for brokers to eschew outdated manual practices wherever possible.

Technology connectivity gaps

But now, there is no avoiding manual processes in some circumstances, as Potts observes: “Day-to-day policies can be run without human intervention in the sales cycle.”

“But some areas of insurance still require human input, even though parts of these journeys are digitalised in some form, whether that involves a digital signature or contact with the client through a chatbot.

“For example, we increasingly see claims processes using AI, removing the need to undertake these manually. However, these will still require human input in complex situations.”

Gaps in technological connectivity can be disappointing for customers, though. Peter Blanc, chief executive at Aston Lark, adds: “The sales journey for ‘vanilla’ risks is pretty seamless end to end, but when clients have unusual requirements or claims, most insurers tend to revert to manual processes. This can be frustrating for customers, particularly if they try to sort out their insurances outside office hours.”

Emily Kenna, director at Sense Risk Solutions, observes that reliance on manual processes can be frustrating for broker employees as well as clients. She says: “According to research, brokers spend more than 50% of their time on administrative tasks, meaning less time is spent on client service. More digital transformation could create the change that would empower us to spend more time on service and less time on administration.”

And Kenna welcomes the development of tools and apps: “Many innovations are happening right now, and I am excited to see these change the landscape of our sector.

“We are in a fascinating time where positive change and innovation are pushing the agenda, and businesses want to find ways to stand out from the crowd.”

Broker Week

This article forms part of Broker Week in association with Applied Systems. To learn more please visit our sister site Insurance Hound

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