Q. Who do you most admire?
Q. Who do you most admire?
A. No one person, there are great things in most people.
Q Let me get this straight: under your new initiative, Brokersure is going to take over brokers' back office admin, and also negotiate with insurers on brokers' behalf. Isn't that tantamount to a passive take-over?
A. No, we are simply playing to our strengths and maximising opportunities. Currently the way brokers work is hugely complex, inefficient and does not maximise service opportunities.
Brokers have to manage many products, from many insurers, in a labour-intensive way, using expensive and often outdated technology – involving themselves in long laborious paperchases. We believe up to 80% of a broker's time can be involved in administrative functions and in managing their panels.
We would like to enable them to spend the majority of their time building relationships with customers, building their business and selling insurance. We already have a panel of first class insurers that we will extend. We have an administration system supporting hundreds of thousands of policies, and a successful and rapidly growing internet business. We are not taking over the broker, simply removing the administration burden, enabling the broker to add real value.
Q. The market is very sensitive about the issue of client ownership. Do you really believe that retail brokers will cede commercial information such as client addresses, and policy information to be stored centrally on Boncaster's system? What's in it for brokers?
A. We already look after sensitive client information for a significant number of partners and brokers. We manage the insurance business for Audi, Volkswagen, SEAT, Skoda, Peugeot, Rolls Royce Enthusiasts Club, Bentley Drivers' Club, Age Concern, Royal British Legion, Freeserve, Yahoo!, so we know the importance of confidentiality.
We also have a very significant business where brokers have appointed us to administer their policies on their behalf, dealing with their customers and paying the broker a commission.
It is the brokers who own the customers. We are simply providing them with products, systems and administration functions in a way that has previously not been possible.
Q. By what method will you charge brokers for this service if, indeed, there is to be a charge?
A. We will be announcing full details of the service, the products and the panel over the next few months to give brokers the opportunity to assess our offering against the increasing number of systems and solutions that are becoming available.
The difference with our proposition is the uniqueness in providing a complete solution from the front end quotation system, right through to providing the products and handling administration in a completely seamless online environment.
Surely, if brokers outsourced their back offices and insurer relations to Boncaster, that would mean a huge reduction in workloads.
Q. Redundancies at the retail broker end would seem inevitable in such circumstances?
A. This by no means inevitable. Costs need to be removed to enable our brokers to compete. However, increased profitability can equally be achieved by freeing up administration duties and refocusing staff on sales, allowing them to win business back from competing channels. It means that existing brokers can cope with more business without increasing the numbers of staff they have.
Alternatively, should a broker find an opportunity to reduce staff costs, then this will result in a more profitable intermediary market which is in all our interests.
Q. Please list the functions that the Boncaster back office can perform.
A. As I said before, this is a complete end-to-end solution. It will enable brokers to obtain quotes directly from the online system, put customers on cover, issue policy documentation, undertake online mid-term adjustments and renew policies. Credit and financing facilities, plus other add-on products will also be available. Insurer accounts will be settled direct on behalf of the broker. The solution will also have the option for brokers to have their own web front end, giving their customers online access to quotations while retaining customer ownership. An offline call centre facility will be available for non-standard risks.
Q. How would retail brokers be able to exploit these functions in terms of marketing?
A. First and foremost, our solution frees the broker from many time-consuming administrative burdens. As a result, they will have more time to sell and promote their service. The wide range of products available – all on one system – will provide cross-selling potential well in excess of typical current levels. The web front end will give even the smallest broker an online presence and an interactive quotation capability. Attractive commission terms will increase the revenue available to spend on marketing and promotional initiatives. The broker will have access to products from insurers they may not currently trade with because of their minimum support requirements.
Q. What do you think the broker-software landscape will look like in five years' time?
A. Product life cycles have shortened beyond recognition. To predict the look and shape of the market in five years' time is something I would not attempt to do. My job is to make sure that Cox has a valuable and viable business in five years' time and beyond. I have a vested interest in doing everything possible to make sure that there is a significant and sustainable intermediary market. I believe software houses have some excellent products, and I am sure they will continue to play a significant part in the intermediary world as they do now.
Q. Beyond the administrative attractions of this venture, what are the attractions of this service?
A. Brokersure.co.uk is a unique offering. It will reduce the brokers' costs. It will provide common policy wordings, offer attractive commission rates, have a wide range of products and it will be online and instantaneous. We will deliver web capability. It will free up a huge amount of time and will enable the broker to concentrate on the things they do best, which is delivering quality insurance products to their customers.
It is a tremendous opportunity to provide something that is not there at the moment ,and I am confident that brokers and intermediaries will share my enthusiasm for this unique service.