The news study from Ecclesiastical reveals how brokers can win more business and have meaningful contact with clients

how brokers can win more business

Brokers could win more business if they offer more frequent, proactive and meaningful contact with their clients, according to Ecclesiastical commercial director Adrian Saunders.

New research from Ecclesiastical shows that almost a third of the brokers it surveyed (28.8%) only contact their clients once a year at renewal and 22.8% only contacted them twice a year.

The research, undertaken by FWD on behalf of Ecclesiastical, polled 250 brokers in February 2017. The sample included brokers from the top 50 national brokers, super-regionals ranked 51 to 250 and provincial brokers.

Much of brokers’ contact with clients is in reaction to events or client requests, such as renewals, claims, or mid-term changes to policies, the research showed. Only 10% said they contact clients to keep in touch to maintain a relationship, and 26.4% said they contact clients to share useful advice and guidance.

“It highlights the opportunity brokers have got to broaden that contact and improve their position as being perceived as professional advisers as opposed to [contact] being just about an insurance transaction on a renewal cycle,” Saunders said.

“For so long, brokers have been talking about wanting to get parity with other professional service providers and I think this research highlights some areas – and not necessarily difficult areas – that can really be focused on.”

He added: “It is thinking about proactive contact and how it changes the view of the client from ‘that’s somewhere I go to buy insurance’ to ‘that’s somewhere I go to get risk advice and I happen to get insurance as a by-product of it’.

Saunders acknowledges that reactive contact to respond to renewals, claims and requests is a necessary part of the client-broker relationship, but going further could unlock more beneficial relationships.

Trusted advisers

To underscore brokers’ role as trusted advisers, Saunders suggests a good approach would be to share information, news and details of emerging trends that could impact risk, and so take on a thought leadership role.

He said: “In the retail space, brokers are going to have lots of micro and small businesses as clients. Which of those businesses wouldn’t want to hear about topical things like cyber and other areas that might be pertinent?”

One recent development that could allow brokers to show their worth to clients is the cut in the Ogden personal injury discount rate to -0.75% from 2.5%. The cut took effect on 20 March this year.

The discount rate change has had a big impact on insurers, and so some brokers might think it is more an issue for insurers than them. But the cut is likely to mean big rate hikes in business lines with a personal injury element, in particular personal and commercial motor. Clients may not understand this fully, and may be surprised by the hikes if not forewarned, giving brokers an ideal opportunity to step in.

Absorbing shocks

“Don’t leave it until renewal time,” Saunders said. “Here is something you can start talking to your clients about now so you are not presenting clients with a surprise further down the track.”

Further suggestions are sharing business successes with clients and also letting them know about charity work that the broker does.

Some brokers may find increased and more proactive contact with clients daunting. As Ecclesiastical’s research shows, the larger the broker, the more likely they are to contact clients more frequently.

Among the Top 50 brokers, 51.7% contact their clients four times a year or more, compared with 26.3% of provincial brokers and 30.5% of brokers in the top 51-250.

Saunders acknowledged that this was because of access to more resources at the bigger firms.

But he added that smaller brokers wanting to improve client contact should not be put off. He suggested that brokers ask their insurer partners for help.

He said: “It is easy to think: ‘This is difficult stuff and I don’t know where I am going to get my sources of thought leadership or basis for how I am going to go about this.’ We are delighted to work proactively with brokers and help them with this. It really doesn’t matter what profile of broker you are in the market – you can do this.”