The insurance industry's resistance to change will be blown apart over the coming years the chief executive of Marsh Europe has warned, but brokers have a secure future.
Dan Jones, European head of the world's biggest broker, said: “Since I joined the industry ten years ago, the change that has happened to the industry has been minimal. We have laptops now, but apart from that what we do now looks like what we did ten years ago.
“That's about to change. Service will have to be improved. Any non-value-added services that we charge for will not be acceptable.”
But he had good news for brokers fearing they could be cut out of the market. “Disintermediation is going to happen but we are not going to disappear. I'm less concerned now than I was 18 months ago – lying awake at night wondering when someone was going to come up with a way of getting rid of us,” he said.
And he called on brokers to unite to fight their collective corner against other threats. He admitted that as much as 15% of Marsh's business could be lost to internet companies.
Mike Edwards, of broker King & Partner, said his firm had chosen a network to help secure better deals from insurers and reduced technology costs through bulk-buying power. He claimed he was able to combine these with the personal, local relationships that customers preferred.
Edwards confirmed a view put forward by Independent Insurance boss Michael Bright, that most small and medium-sized brokers were winning new business from companies dissatisfied with the impersonal service from the big three.
Axa boss Andy Homer said he got much more profitable business from smaller firms than from the big three and had better relationships with them too.” The margins achieved from the big three are different to that from the smaller to medium-sized brokers. By different, I mean less,” he said.