And 90% anticipate growth in demand for their support

Almost two-thirds (65%) of UK brokers believe that the operating environment for SMEs is getting more complex, according to a survey by Zurich.

The poll of 330 brokers, many of whom operate small businesses in their own right, also shows that 90% anticipate that Britain’s small businesses will need more advice around insurance and risk.

This echoes the findings of a recent Insurance Times Knowledge Live survey, where 96% of brokers said they saw their role as becoming increasingly important in the SME space.

To meet this anticipated expansion in the requirement for advice, two in three brokers polled in the Zurich research (67%) expect to be serving more small business customers over the next 12 months. This compares to 85% of brokers at the Knowledge Live event who said they expected their book of SME business to grow over the same period.

Commenting on the research, Zurich director of SME Richard Coleman said the recession had forced many SMEs to diversify and “new markets and technologies has brought an unprecedented pace of change”.

“This represents a great opportunity for insurers and brokers alike to work together and use their expertise to help this growing area of the economy to navigate these changes – a fantastic opportunity to benefit from the economic upturn,” Coleman said.

“That two-thirds of brokers expect to gather more SME customers over the next 12 months also suggests that there will continue to be hot competition out there. However, most industry predictions expect a growth in the overall number of small businesses in operation, and we also expect the growing complexity and changing risk profiles to spur SMEs to seek help where previously they may have taken a more DIY approach.

“There is a real opportunity here for brokers to identify these potential customers in their local markets and really add value by helping them understand and make necessary provisions.”