Insurance Times lead researcher Savan Shah discusses some of the key themes to emerge from the Insurance Times Etrading Insight Report with Applied System’s Jeff Purdy Vice President of International Operations

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Jeffrey D. Purdy, Senior Vice President of International Operations, is responsible for Applied’s Canadian and UK operations.

One of the emerging themes in this year’s Insurance Times Etrading report was that although E-trading has provided huge benefits to brokers it has to some extent broken down relationships built between broker and insurer. How do you balance the use of technology and the quality of engagement/personable service provided by Applied Systems to brokers?

Great question and astute feedback from the broker community. Technology in our view is just an enabler. An enabler for business to be more efficient, an enabler for a broker to execute their strategy effectively, it is not a substitute for relationships. In theory, it is an enabler for stronger relationships, because it should enable better trading between broker and insurer, better trading between consumer and broker to support advisory and servicing to each consumer demographic.

I wouldn’t suggest that technology displaces the need for relationships and the need for investment in relationships, especially in insurance which is very relationship orientated. I would say it is an enabler and not a substitute.

We asked brokers to convey what would encourage them to place more business through your software house, with comments varying from access to more insurers, new products being added and better referral options. What is Applied Systems doing to address these needs?

Broker feedback from our clients and our user group’s product advisory committee has greatly contributed to ongoing development and the expansion of the panel, and we expect overtime new additions to drive the usage of our panel. I would suggest it is broader than just brokers, I would say there are many advantages to using the etrading platform than just getting the best price with an insurer or having access to an insurer product.

It’s placing that business in a broker management platform where that information can be utilised through the entire customer journey from sales to servicing. Empowering the broker with information that can go to a mobile device so the consumer can and employees access it at any time from anywhere.

E-trading enables the broker to provide the consumer the right products at the right price in significantly less time whilst maintaining critical information in your broker management system. In addition to reducing double entry, the data collected in the sales process can be used for broader purposes that can improve the overall consumer experience, whilst streamlining the insurer broker partnership, enabling a greater volume of transactions to help brokers grow their book of business.

A theme running throughout many broker comments regarding software houses are that although SWH’s are faster, simple and time saving an insurer extranet may provide cheaper quotes due to there being more questions to answer on an insurer platform. What is Applied Systems doing to bridge this gap?

The gap is lessening, as etrading becomes more mature and more GWP goes through etrading, insurers are motivated to enhance those capabilities versus the extranets. Over time those concerns will diminish, there is also tremendous value using software houses over an extranet platform. Once that policy information is in your broker management system, then you can extend that information in other ways to make that consumer experience better, which at the end of the day brokers want to give their customers.

You get the information through your broker management system, you get the right product at the right price for your consumers and that information extends to the consumer based on their preference whether it is through a portal, a mobile device etc..

Software houses are known to be the pioneers of innovative solutions for brokers, are there any innovations set to be introduced through Applied systems you would like to tell brokers about? How will it make their job easier?

We are bringing our flagship broker management system Applied Epic to the UK market later this year. Applied Epic has achieved great success in other marketplaces. In our view, this market needs new, modern, fresh cloud based technology that will enable brokers to compete in a highly competitive environment. It will allow brokers to serve their customers in their preferred service method on a device that they choose at a time that they want!

This ties into our views in what customers will demand over time, our expectations is that the consumer will demand a truly connected experience from when they acquire their insurance coverage to all of their insurance servicing requirements with their broker. Today’s consumers expect self-serve capabilities and mobile access to their information. That is where our vision of where the brokers role will grow, our job is to enable brokers and insurance consumers and that and it starts with a cloud based modern platform that will enable that and we are bringing that to market with Applied Epic..

Technology - key technologies have already begun to disrupt industries—with innovations in infrastructure and productivity, online sales applications, advanced analytics, machine learning, automation, robotics and virtual reality. These technologies are projected to accelerate its impact in the next 3-5 years, how do you envisage Applied Systems to look like in the years ahead and what are your thoughts on these technologies impacting upon Applied Systems?

Really good question! Those platform and technology disruptor’s in other markets have all been driven by consumer demand. Consumers will demand of their broker different types of access to information whether that is via a chat on a brokers’ website or via a mobile device, the consumers will demand access than what exists today. As an example, other markets will connect our technologies via a chat-bot on a website because the consumers are demanding that.

Our view is what the consumer demands of the broker distribution channel becomes our responsibility to enable, whether its mobile, portal, integration of chat bots to things we can’t even envisage today.

This year there has been many cases of system crashes, data breaches and hacking amongst many industries in the last few years. It is our largest expenditure every year and has been for the last 10 years and will be going forward! With cybercrime expected to rise in the years ahead, how can you reassure Brokers trading through Applied Systems that their information and systems are protected?

I completely agree now more than ever security privacy concerns are top of mind for many reasons. For Applied, our investment in cloud infrastructure and architecture is top of mind for many years. We have been hosting and delivering cloud solutions before they were even called cloud solutions for nearly 20 years!

We operate four datacentres around the world. When we entered the UK market 3 years ago, our most significant investment was to enable purpose built cloud infrastructure and invest behind that and also pair that with alternative site in Canada. We recognize Cloud as a requirement for brokers who are entrusted with their customer’s data and require access to their broker management system at all times.

What has been your proudest moment whilst being involved in E-trading?

Great question. Since investing significantly in this market, commercial lines SME eTrading has always been a core, strategic focus. I am very proud of our team in the UK and the panel expansion over the last three years. The number of products that our customers have access to, the price of the products relative to extranets and relative to alternatives ways of getting a price, has made significant strides and a positive impact on this market. I am very proud of the team in Brighton and across the UK –as proud of the work they have done with insurers to broaden our panel, access and place of the product, and we are well positioned to be the leading provider and enabler of the digital transformation of insurance.