’The insurance industry has to raise awareness and increase the knowledge of what insurance is all about,’ says chief executive
On 6 November 2023, Verlingue rebranded its specialist Lloyd’s and London market wholesale broker from NBJ London Markets to Verlingue London Markets.
The rebrand followed reports from broker partners that indicated a decline in service levels among wholesale brokers in the London market in recent years.
Mike Latham, chief executive of Verlingue, says that requests made to his firm were simple – deliver high levels of ongoing service and, in turn, “we would have something very different from everyone else right now”.
As a result, the firm rebuilt, reshaped and relaunched its proposition to strengthen its presence among broker partners.
And Latham believes Verlingue is catering to these firms’ needs. He says that partners tell his staff: “You are one of the few brokers that picks up the phone. You are one of the few brokers that acknowledges the email.”
While Latham believes Verlingue is on the right path, he feels issues with service across the market stem from an unsustainable workload, noting that some see “hundreds of emails” in a short space of time.
This came after O.C Tanner’s Global Culture report, published in 2023, revealed that 46% of insurance managers said that their responsibilities had increased since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
O.C Tanner collected and analysed the perspectives of over 36,000 employees, leaders, HR practitioners and business executives from 20 countries around the world, including 606 from the insurance sector.
Latham feels companies need to reassess their “distribution” methods or allocate additional “resources” to address the increasing workload.
He notes that this involves tacking challenges such as the shortage of skills.
Figures published by Aviva in 2022 for the insurer’s Broker Barometer showed that 98% of brokers were recruiting for roles in their business, with more than half (53%) revealing that a vacancy had been open for four months or more.
Latham notes that the challenge of “getting talent through the door” is coupled with their lack of understanding about the industry and processes within companies.
For example, the Chartered Insurance Institute revealed that 60% of young talent found the insurance industry “boring” and only 30% would consider it as a career.
The findings were based on a survey of 50 participants between the ages of 14-22 in April 2023.
Latham feels that a lack of understanding is contributing to an “erosion” of service quality.
He explains: “What will continue in the immediate term are challenges related to the skills shortages.
”We can keep going out there and pay more for talent, but this will then put pressure on our business models, which will increase in the prices that we charge our customers.”
As a result, Latham feels the industry needs to showcase insurance as a career to the younger generation and bring them in through apprenticeships.
This came as ABI director of general insurance policy Mervyn Skeet said the industry “must do a better job” of making sure that what happens in insurance is spoken about more outside of the sector.
Latham stresses that part of this needs to involve ”bringing some personality to the discussions”.
He notes that those in the industry should focus on sharing real-life experiences to young talent rather than just providing explanations to the next generation about the insurance sector.
“[For example], ’this is how I went from not being a fighter pilot to having a successful insurance brokerage in the UK,’” Latham says.
“We all have to start somewhere and the starting point is difficult for people because, initially, it can be quite dull.
”So, [the industry] needs to do as much as [it] possibly can bring that to life, to enrich that experience.
“That’s what [Verlingue] is trying to do this year.”
This year, Verlingue plans to bring in 15 apprentices and put them all through a structured programme to get them to a point where they can contribute at an early stage to a number of organisations.
”We are going to bring a population that we can train more efficiently and at the same time create a social buzz,” Latham says.
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