Building resilience while navigating the Covid-19 pandemic lies in forging progressive growth supported by the foundations of culture, communications and care, says Ethos Broking’s managing director

Against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, ‘resilience’ has become a buzzword as businesses from a myriad of sectors look at how they can possibly grow and prosper while faced with a coronavirus-caused economic downturn.

However, Richard Tuplin, managing director at Ethos Broking – part of the Bravo Group – believes that independent brokers have the ability to “go into survival mode”.

Defining resilience as “the capacity to recover quickly”, Tuplin explained: “There’s a mentality in independent broking. If you’ve done independent broking, you’ve had to have a mindset for survival and how you invest in relationships.”

With this in mind, resilience, therefore, is closely woven into Tuplin’s concept of the community broker, where forging and maintaining local relationships is of vital importance to maintain business buoyancy – not just for the broker themselves, but also for community-based companies.

“When you’re [a] community broker, [this] is predicated on key community relationships - people knowing you, knowing you care, people knowing you’re going to look after them and that reliance on you not just as an insurance broker, but a key figure of the local business community,” he said.

Describing this as a “natural behaviour” for Ethos Broking, Tuplin added that this approach includes “making sure that your touchpoints with clients are there, making sure you’re holding hands when you can at every point of any claim.

“People often lean into you as that business advisor, not just insurance advisor, so even if you’re there just to listen to somebody, that’s been a major part of our role”.

Progressive growth

Brokers targeting “progressive growth” amid fluctuating national lockdowns need to hunt down new business within “industries that are quite strong at the moment or needs specialism, those that everybody isn’t after, that are advice led, that are proposition led”, Tuplin advised.

He continued: “When you look at any basic P&L, it says right: I’ve got pressure on my renewal line, we’ve got an uncertain economy, unfortunately sad news about businesses closing down because they haven’t been able to survive these periods of lockdown. So, you just go after new clients.”

Ethos Broking has taken this approach internally, seeking to derive some element of control from an environment that is uncertain and still being led by an unprecedented illness – it has reaped a 9% uptick in new business as a result.

“I was very honest with all 740 people in Ethos saying look, collectively we can make a difference if we all do our job, serve our clients to the best we can serve, win as much new business as we can,” he said.

“We can control that ourselves; we’re not going to be relying on the economy, we’re going to be relying on our own actions. And that served really well.”

This mentality is a key theme within Bravo Group’s recent whitepaper, Resilience through growth, which Tuplin assisted with.

The whitepaper emphasises the importance of “putting yourself in that position for when the economy does bounce back”.

Tuplin added: “We can control our own destinies. I can’t control unfortunate liquidations and insolvencies. But what I can control is our culture, our mindset and our activity and when we get all of those three things right, then we shall be in a position to be very well placed next year when hopefully we start emerging out of this Covid world.

“If you want to be a victim and you have that mentality, then you’re going to shrink to greatness.”

Tuplin confirmed that, for him, the cornerstones of resilience are culture, communication and care. “It’s all around how people feel in any aspect,” he said.

Staff engagement

But this mantra isn’t just for use on clients - a key facet of building resilience through growth is having the support and engagement of staff.

For Tuplin, upskilling Ethos Broking’s employees to understand the volatility of a hard market has been a challenge as “65% of our business hasn’t seen a hard market and this is a harsh market, or [it is] going to be”.

But the prominent focus for Tuplin has been on communications – for example, he has done 37 roadshows since Bravo Group was acquired by Ardonagh in July.

This helped him to understand “what the challenges were at face level with our people”. This has been even more important since the onset of Covid-19 and the requirement for home working, which Tuplin described as “a mental health timebomb”.

“We need to do more as leaders to connect our people, to make them feel valued and to make them feel empowered so we can go on and cover all those things around winning, around making sure we’re in a well placed position for next year and communicating that whole message so they know where we are on that journey,” he said.

In turn, this creates “a huge moment for leadership to define itself”, Tuplin added.

“Our people are looking towards its leadership for validation of truth and a road map through the next year. That’s what people are looking for and they need trust in us and knowing that our decisions and our values and belief systems align and we can go through and deal with this together.”

In Numbers

insurance broker

Regarding insurance agents and brokers within the UK market:

  • Market size: £12bn.
  • Number of businesses: 2,741.
  • Industry employment: 62,985.

Source: Ibis World, updated August 2020