By Renee Durepos, VP Client Services, Keal Technology
Despite the constant change of the Independent Broker Distribution Channel’s landscape, a Broker’s reality is such that if they allow themselves to remain stagnant, they consequently fall behind. Amongst the long list of external factors contributing to this fast-paced environment is competition and technology.
In a recent Keal Broker survey, 100% of all Brokers surveyed acknowledged that the threat of the Direct Writers and Banks into the P&C insurance marketplace is one of their biggest challenges facing their Brokerage today. After more than 20 years of this direct intrusion, this should hardly come as �new’ news. Ignorance is no longer bliss, but awareness and action are two different beasts. It is one thing to see new competitors enter your business; it is quite another to research alternative ways of doing business, search for new tools and develop a strategic plan. In light of this, every broker should be asking themselves what will my brokerage look like in 2,5 and even 10 years? Who will my clients be and will I meet their expectations? What do I need to do today to maintain and increase market share?
Keal recently had an opportunity to get a bird’s eye view on the internal operations of a Direct Writer. In a nutshell, micro-management is the name of the game – everything is measured through the use of business tools and technology solutions that allow them to compete leaner and meaner. Call recording systems allow them to book premiums faster by way of audio signatures. Call scripting is not only a portion of their Quality Assurance program, but plays an important part in the Employee’s Performance evaluation. Employees work on a “points reward system” – if an employee gets a sale by following a script, they get merit points. If they don’t get the sale but followed the script, they still get rewarded.
But when they get a sale without following a script, they get rewarded but less than if they had followed the script. The process is as important as the result. They use “needs-based” questions with clients and follow rigid time goals; for example they have 10-12 minutes for an auto-new business, and 15-20 minutes for a habitational new-business. When asked why they won business from brokers, they shared that Consumers have difficulty reaching their Broker and when they do, the response time is slow for information, quotes, etc� When asked why they lost business to Brokers, the main reason cited was Consumers wanted to talk to a local Broker.
As a Broker Management System Provider, Keal strongly believes in the ability of the Independent Broker Distribution Channel to increase its market share. We are of the mindset that technology plays a critical part in making this happen. The good news is we know of brokers who are not only organically increasing their volume, but at a faster rate than Direct Writers. However, one thing is constant in these Brokerages; they are paperless, use call recording, have embraced Best Practices and are committed to more rigid processes and measurements. In short, what gets measured gets done!
To support this knowledge, Keal commissioned a national survey in January 2012 where 25+ Keal Brokers were surveyed to gauge their use of BMS technology. We touched upon their current challenges, whether they were paperless and using integrated call recording technology, and asked their thoughts on electronic document downloads and SEMCI. The high level results are included below:
- 79% of brokers surveyed are paperless
- 17% will become paperless in next 2 yrs
- Measurable efficiencies referenced were;
- Refined workflows – increase productivity and flexibility
- Time and cost savings � no paper, less storage
- Faster client response time
- Greater organization � access to all for all
- Increased E&O protection
The adoption rate of paperless workflows in the Broker Distribution Channel is good news when you consider the cost of paper heavy workflows: 7.5% of all documents (i.e. policy related documents) get lost and the cost to recreate a lost document is $220.00 (Source: Gartner Research and PricewaterhouseCoopers). It is easy to realize the hidden costs a paper-rich brokerage is unknowingly experiencing�not to mention the high legal exposure. Less paper is definitely more.
- Call Recording
- Only 25% of brokers surveyed are enjoying the benefits of call recording
- Good news – the interest is there with 58% of Brokers investing in this technology within
the next 2 years
- When asked what benefits they have gained most from call recording, they stated:
- Quality Assurance and training
- Increased E&O protection and reduced E&O costs
- Booking premium faster with audio signatures
- Call scripting for audio signatures and telemarketing
- Performance and result metrics
Call recording in the Broker Distribution Channel is indeed an untapped opportunity. Given that Direct Writers have been using this technology for at least 10+ years, it represents a significant explanation for their increase in market share. Brokers using this technology are competing on a level technology playing field with their competitors.
- Single Entry Multiple Company Interface (SEMCI)
- It was evident in Keal’s survey that Brokers realize they need this direct connectivity technology to compete.
- To demonstrate the urgency of this technology, Keal selected 8 brokers representing $290 Million of Personal Lines and analyzed their policy change transactions. These are the results:
- Pure policy changes accounted for 23% of all transactions.
- Of these transactions, revenue accounted for less than 1% of the total
commission revenue or $3.68 per transaction.
- Policy change transaction is the most time consuming transaction and when Brokers apply their policy change transaction cost, the margins are very slim, if not negative.
This begs the million dollar question: What is the solution that allows brokers to minimize the time needed to complete transactions that bring the least revenue to the bottom line? Answer is simple – automate them through SEMCI solutions.
Keal’s position on SEMCI is clear � it is available today. It is every BMS Provider’s responsibility to develop functionalities for Brokers to make true SEMCI a reality. Keal applauds and supports the IBAC (Insurance Brokers Association of Canada) Data Exchange Project initiative. IBAC has established guiding principles for the industry which are supported by CSIO’s standards:
- Transaction starts in the BMS and ends in the BMS
- It uses CSIO XML standards
- It avoids third party middleware software
The objective of SEMCI is do more with less; less user clicks, less navigation screens and less data fields that have to be re-entered. In a nutshell, doing more in less time.
Technology will continue to change the way you do business with your clients and carriers, directly contributing to your Brokerage’s future success and the profitability margins you achieve. There exists opportunities for Brokers to re-invent themselves using current technology that is not only available today, but that is affordable. A Broker’s biggest fear should not be Banks or Direct Writers, but their own apprehension at adopting the right technology tools to grow their business. The old attitudes of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and “we’ve always done it this way” may be comforting theories, but they certainly don’t represent a strategic plan to profitably increase market share. Instead, Brokers should take a second look at their workflow procedures and actively research existing technology tools and platforms that will allow them to do more with less.
About Keal Technology
Keal Technology is a leader in BMS (Broker Management Systems) and CMS (Commercial Management Systems) in the Canadian marketplace for insurance and financial services brokers. Keal offers an integrated suite of products designed to increase revenue through efficient use of technology. Visit www.keal.com.