YBC Conference l Hot Topics

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Thanks to our panelists at this year’s Young Brokers Conference for sharing their insight with us – much appreciated!

Adam Hare, Petley-Hare Ltd.
Alanna Taylor, Knox Insurance Brokers Ltd.
Brett McGlynn, Mass Insurance Brokers Ltd.
Jennifer Savage, Cambrian Insurance Brokers Inc.
Matthew Carr, Carr & Company Insurance Brokers Ltd.

In one word, what does the future of the broker channel look like?

Adam: Opportunistic – There’s so much to change, such a high mountain to climb. Lots of opportunity, lots of negativity re directs. If brokers can stick to making this better, as a team, we can do a better job as a team.

Alanna: Exciting – Change is good. It’s time to evolve.

Brett: Disruptive – The broker channel will continue to amalgamate in the coming years at a high rate. Competing against direct writers and mega-brokers head-to-head requires expensive technology and economies of scale to respond to changing consumer demands. Smaller brokers can and will thrive through niche specialization where they understand their clients or products better than anyone else.

Jennifer: Multi-faceted – More electronic, more mobile. Brokers need to get out of their own way of doing things and do what works for customers.

Matt: Cautious

How important is social media to a brokerage?

Adam: 10/10. But brokers can’t assume that just because they sign up for Facebook they’ll have new business. It’s an engagement tool, not a sales tool. Use it to connect, show the fun side of the office and your involvement in the community. Show personality. [But worries about brokerages that find the youngest person in their office and hands over their Facebook page – “…you just want to hand over your brand that way?”]

Alanna: Sees the importance but finds it a struggle – it’s “more effective using it to build a personal brand.” Leverages LinkedIn to build contacts, and finds it effective.

Brett: It’s hard to be engaging in this space for a product that no one really wants to be engaged in. You have to be there so you can hear and respond to the conversations that are happening online – both good and bad. It’s equally important as a tool to improve your SEO ranking.

Jennifer: Sees the importance but stresses that brokers must be aware of their business demographic. The newspaper, yellow pages – there’s still a large portion of the audience in some communities who want to find you in that space.

Matt: His brokerage ran a successful campaign and got 3000 likes. But… when the clients really wanted to do business, they called. Social media has its place but the phone still seems to be the main communication channel people use. “I’m not so worried about ‘what’s next’ in social media. I’m interested in maximizing tools we already have.”

How big a threat is telematics to the broker channel?

Adam: The biggest threat is brokers who aren’t adapting. The biggest threat to brokers when it comes to new opportunities is brokers themselves who choose not to adapt. Who’s going to get creative? Who’s going to set the bar? Brokers can.

Alanna: Brokers must play in this space – it’s a necessity. Whether you personally want to use it or not, you need to understand it and how it affects your clients.

Brett: 0 – The word “threat” in that question is concerning. It’s a reality. We have the opportunity to be on a level playing field and more broker markets are going to introduce it. Conversations about driving habits are the meaningful interaction we’ve been looking for.

Jennifer: Thinks it’s a fabulous retention tool and sells it easily in her community. Baby boomers want it the most!

The insurance business is a relationship business. In one word, what‘s the best way to build connections?

Adam: Transparency – Be open and honest and have an open and real conversation. Don’t fluff it. No fluffers.

Alanna: Socialize – Being sociable is important. There are opportunities presenting themselves moment after moment. You constantly have opportunities to build relationships, which in turn build resources. Get involved in any way you can.

Brett: Sincerity – Most people know when they’re being misled. That’s no way to build meaningful, long-term relationships. Building trust is the key to a strong relationship.

Jennifer: Friendship – Personal relationships and good communication are the best ways.

Matt: Face time – Nothing beats a relationship that’s created face-to-face. Golf. Dinner. Meetings. Those moments build confidence.

What’s the number one quality you look for in a market?  

Adam: You’re building a business, and these are partners. Interview them. “What are you bringing to the table?” Do they have a team in place that can support the broker? Suggests building a business plan with a solid marketing campaign and taking it to market – you’ll quickly learn how that company views your partnership and how they are prepared to work with you.

Alanna: Ease of doing business – She goes out of her way to service her clients and needs the same level of service in return from her markets.

Brett: Relationships – The personal lines products are virtually the same. In that environment you don’t need every market with the same products at a marginally different rate. A good broker should be able to sell their value proposition and not rely solely on rate.

Jennifer: Competitive pricing – Wants flexibility and reliability, but does think pricing matters.

Matt: Flexibility – The products are almost the same. Look for a market with the ability to be flexible and think outside the box.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Adam: Be the best you can be at your job. Good things will come.

Alanna: Look up. While you’re looking at your smartphone, there are opportunities passing you by. Enjoy the company of those you’re with.

Brett: On management/hiring – “Hire the best or your competitors will.” On networking – “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.”

Jennifer: Take ownership of errors you make. Be transparent. It will get you further.

Matt: “Hustle and heart beats skill every time” and “It’s better to be seen but not heard.” Listen to your clients.

How efficient is broker technology?

Adam: Companies have done a lot, they’ve come a long way. If you look hard enough, you’ll find a tool for what you want to do. Yes there’s room for improvement but the tools do exist. It’s more about the broker being more efficient versus blaming the insurer.

Alanna: It’s so inefficient. There are a lot of struggles. Double entry and the BMS are two examples of what’s slowing us down.

Brett: Although broker technology in its present state is inefficient, the technology on the horizon is very exciting and brokers that adopt the right components will have a huge advantage in the marketplace.

Jennifer: Every portal is so different. Every insurer wants to be different and special. They’re forgetting it has to be easy for brokers.

Matt: There are many options and tools out there, but they don’t talk to each other. Vendors need to work together. No one has brought it all. We need one efficient module.


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