Mike Bowen, managing director, MBP
Many changes are technology-driven and you cannot be the King Canute of the technology revolution. We need to understand the realities of technology.
This was brought home to me by the experience of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. At its peak in 1990, sales were over $650m . Then Bill Gates bought a little-known encyclopaedia company, re-named it Encarta, put it on a CD-ROM and started giving it away with his computer software.
What happened to Britannica? Overnight, it had an 80% drop in sales. Its business model and its entire business was shot.
If all a broker wants to do is compare prices, he will be blown to bits.
As more and more products get packaged and commoditised this will happen. Inevitably, the SME market will drift this way, as personal lines already has.
Brokers need to work on adding value to their clients, professional advice.
They are professional people and they should not underestimate the value of their knowledge and skill set. Insurance is not straightforward.
As a profession, insurance broking totally undersells itself. I urge brokers to rise to the challenge of providing added value advice and recognising the value of that advice.
The insurance companies that have driven the change in the personal lines market are the same companies that the intermediaries give most of their business to. So the broker is effectively giving those insurers their most profitable business.
Why should brokers choose to provide profits to those parties that use those profits to attack them. The intermediary market does appear to be actively promoting and working for its own demise.